Designer Visions: Town & Country

Q+A with Jessie Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier & Co.

1. What compelled you to pick this movie?

Igby Goes Down gave us a movie that would resonate with the upscale Town & Country reader and give us freedom to be really creative with the interior since there were so many good-looking lifestyles referenced in the film.

2. What was the hardest part of translating the movie into a space? How did you go about designing it?

Instead of drawing inspiration from the sets, we opted to channel the energy, modernity, and sophistication of the film into something real and livable. We always like to reference the actual residence, a glamorously updated prewar apartment on the Upper East Side. In the end, I think the apartment felt like it could have had a narrative and be the current home of a number of the characters from the film.

3. How was it different or similar to your normal design process?

Actually, it’s not that different. We tend to draw inspiration from the literal location and architecture and then translate the personality of our client to create an interior that “feels” right for the persons and the place.

4. Could you see yourself living in a space like this?

We’d move right in if we could! Not only does the interior have a lot of chic furnishings with even more contemporary art, but all the seating was selected from Dmitriy & Co. because it is incredibly luxe and comfortable. We also planned for how to best utilize the furnishings to make it a real home. For example, we used a draped center table to define an entry space with a console and mirror, too. All those pieces also work if used as a dining area or as a buffet for a cocktail party. And Clos-ette designed the master closets for us, which we wrapped in grass cloth wallpaper. It transformed a hall into a dressing area, and a bedroom into a master suite! We swapped out all the door hardware with a custom knob from Nanz Hardware, too. In the end, it did become personal because we were the ones to please rather than filtering through a client, so it really is a very good representation of who we are and what we like.

5. Did you learn anything new about design while doing this project?

There were two things we knew we wanted to test in this apartment: that by using color and texture on the walls, we could visually expand the sense of space and control how visitors would experience the space. It was very methodical in this case; we planned for the living room (the room you enter from the elevator hall) to be expansive and bright and lend a graciousness and grandeur to the apartment. We glazed the walls in a neutral cross-hatch to achieve that.The kitchen is directly off the living room and was lined with wood-finished cabinetry. We used a textural grass cloth in the colors of the cabinets, floors, and countertop to soften the hard work surfaces of the kitchen and emphasize the dining area at the other end of the space. A bold light fixture over the dining table focused the vista from the living room to the dining area, and we used soft furnishings, like a leather-and-velvet settee and antique whatnots for a bar to give it real livability, rather than a place to eat a quick meal. We papered the hall in a very, very dark and glossy lacquer-like strie. It made the trip to the back rooms an exciting experience, and an added benefit to the depth of the color is that it made all the spaces off it pop in contrast. The back bedroom was turned into a den, and we painted every surface in a large textured cross-hatch in a color called poppy. It’s bold, fun, and sophisticated, yet the room feels warm and cozy, especially at night! The master suite was treated with both the grass cloth wallcovering in the dressing area and a beautiful blue-green paint color to match in the bedroom. While it is colorful, it’s also very soothing and calm. We think it was a success because we balanced the colorful walls with neutrals. What we really learned was that even if the neutral we used was very intense or textured, it still somehow acted as a neutral and allowed for visual transitions to even more color or texture.

6. How can readers apply that concept in their own homes?

We’d suggest experimenting with a strong wall in a contained transitional space, like a hallway or vestibule. Or take a look at your eat-in kitchen and see if there are ways to better finish or furnish it to make it more inviting and comfortable.

7. Can you talk about the layering, whether of color, texture, or furniture?

As mentioned above, we certainly layered color and texture on the walls of the apartment, which varied room to room. We also played with contrasts in the living room to make the furnishings stand out while maintaining a feeling of light and graciousness. The room was a wash of light using glazed walls and a soft tonal sisal floor covering. The drapery is a beautiful hand-printed pattern in plum and gold on linen. We used a rich aubergine linen velvet on the sofa and then carried that saturated color into a hand-woven textile table drape. We floated pieces of rich color within the room; their depth of color grounded them and allowed the other furnishings to float.

8. What’s your favorite piece and why?

We are wild about the cast-bronze tree stump coffee table from Mecox Gardens. It looks like a sculpture but is really a workhorse! It can handle dinner, drinks, tired feet, and can even be used as a perch during a cocktail party. While substantial, its organic shape and shiny surface contrast its mass to lighten it and make it graceful.

9. Aside from the movie’s characters, what sort of people do you imagine living in this space?

It’s a lively and confident home that we’d hope attracts a stylish resident with a sense of fun.

10. You were working with a relatively small space here; what’s your favorite tip for small-space living?

Think about use instead of square footage. A thoughtful and usefully designed space—be it a breakfast nook or a closet—offers a tenfold return on actual size.


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