A Sophisticated New York City Family Home
With her fearlessly modern update of a turn-of-the-century apartment, designer Fawn Galli proves that colorful, confident style transcends all time periods.
Ihave quite a few clients that I’ve worked with for over 20 years, and it’s very, very dear to me,” says Fawn Galli. The Brooklyn-based interior designer, who started her career working alongside decorated architects such as Robert M. Stern and Peter Marino, is known for many things—her way with color, an unerring sense for print, a penchant for design rule-breaking. But it’s the loyalty of her beloved clients that the lauded decorator treasures most. “It’s a special relationship because you’re creating together—in a way that’s even more exciting than a friendship,” she says.
Take screenwriter David Koepp and his wife, writer Melissa Thomas, with whom Galli has been collaborating for nine years, having decorated everything from their sprawling Amagansett summer home to their Upper West Side townhouse and both of their office spaces. When the couple decided to simplify their city life and move from the six-story townhouse to a four-bedroom rental apartment at Manhattan’s storied Langham residence, she was their first call. “They just wanted to make everything easier—horizontal, with a doorman,” says Galli of the couple’s decision to seek a new nest. She couldn’t have been more pleased with their choice. Not only was the designer deeply familiar with the couple’s aesthetic, but she had completed two other projects in the building. “It is an incredible treasure, especially in rentals,” says Galli of Clinton and Russell’s turn-of-the-century limestone paean to Beaux Arts classicism overlooking Central Park. The apartment, with its staggering views, high coved ceilings, oak paneling, and European plasterwork, was in decidedly move-in condition when the couple signed the lease in March of 2014. But they had gotten used to living in effervescent, elegant rooms conceived by Galli—and they wouldn't settle for anything less.
The ensuing interiors revamp was largely cosmetic (painting walls, installing light fixtures, and adding window treatments along with the furnishings) and took place over a month-long span with an eye towards family-friendly function. Despite the speedy timeline and practical considerations, the outcome is a home that feels completely customized, with Galli’s vibrant stamp evident at every turn. “I definitely wanted the view and the landscape to have an opportunity to come into the space,” says Galli of her first reaction to the interiors. The solution? A foundation palette consisting largely of grays, as evidenced by the dining room with its billowing Jim Thompson Thai silk drapery, ice-hued Oushask-style area rug, and walls painted Benjamin Moore’s misty Marilyn’s Dress. The soothing scheme may come as a surprise for a designer known for her fearless way with color. “I love pattern and color, but I like to use it against a backdrop of calmness,” says Galli. The adjoining living room, with its neutral walls and white trim, is a fitting example of that masterful effect. A sapphire mohair-velvet sofa becomes the focal point, sharing the stage with statement-making bronze nesting tables and a love seat upholstered in a swirling Tibetan-inspired fabric by Clarence House.
In the stately paneled library, Galli reprised the cool-toned motif, playing against the classicism of the rich wood and intricate ceiling plasterwork with sleek-lined furniture and geometric, modern textiles. Eskayel’s trippy Areca Palms fabric dresses the windows, while a watercolor-esque area rug by Jan Kath sits beneath an Ikat-print armchair and a love seat upholstered in Timorous Beastie’s kaleidoscopic White Moth Allover linen. That tension between dignified architectural details and bold bouts of whimsy is characteristic of Galli’s design. “I like things to feel quirky but not at the expense of elegance,” she says. “I don’t push it so far as to be esoteric and non-livable, but I appreciate a subtle playfulness.”
From three agelessly vibrant kids’ bedrooms to the soothing kitchen accented with a striking Hermès animalia roman shade and a powder room lacquered entirely in glossy teal green paint, Galli’s knack for interspersing wow moments into livable spaces is confidently on display in the 3500-square-foot home. Her goal for this project, as with all of her designs, was to “walk the line between being soothing and quiet and exciting and flavorful.” If ever there was a showcase for such lush descriptors, this thoroughly modern family home would be it—a stunning amalgam of history, function, and fearless style.