An Artistic Couple Updates Their 1970s Apartment
A family on New York City's Upper East Side creates a sophisticated oasis with a toddler in tow.
In Laura and Diego Garcia's Fifth Avenue apartment, the couple has managed to blend the edgy elegance of Studio 54-era New York with the comforts of a family home. This is, in part, because the Garcias are both avant-garde artists (she designs artisanal light fixtures, while he's an indie rock star) as well as the devoted parents of a toddler. It's also because Laura is, especially by Manhattan standards, particularly well rooted in her Upper East Side address. She grew up in the building where she now resides with her budding family, and her parents keep an apartment there still. "It's wonderful, and in this city quite rare," she says, "for my daughter to live so near her grandparents."
Despite its obvious advantages, however, the Garcias' two-bedroom apartment did present certain challenges. "This building has an unmistakable 1970s aesthetic," she says. "We couldn't fight that, so we decided to embrace it." So, with the help of her design partner, Bernard Figueroa, Laura turned her home's potential shortcomings to decided advantage. By choosing to cover the apartment in white wall-to-wall carpeting, for instance, Laura solved two problems simultaneously: she obscured the dated flooring, and she created kid-friendly play surfaces.
A dramatic yet refined palette provides striking contrast to the building's low-ceilinged walls, and simple linen shades contribute a tailored touch to the architecturally unadorned windows. "I began my career as a fashion designer, so I tend to approach interiors in the way I would an outfit," says Laura. "In fashion, it's important to know when to choose your moments: when to make a statement, and when to keep it simple. In this apartment, our paintings are our statement pieces. It's all about creating a safe home for our daughter, a place where she can live in comfort and style."