Brit in the city
We take notes from an English-born designer who has brought big Old World flair to her typically tiny New York City pad.
We take notes from a designer who has brought Old World flair to her New York City pad
1. Pack a Punch
Minimal adornment can be just as impactful as elaborate embellishment. Decorated with only a striking modern chair and a small antique oil painting (“I love the nonexpression on her face,” says homeowner Becca Galbraith of its subject), a corner of the bedroom looks trimmed but trim.
2. Shift Into Neutral
The apartment is fresh, yet warm and cozy, which the designer credits in large part to its neutral colour scheme. The palette also allowed Becca to harmoniously combine varied influences.
3. Fake Fire
Strong focal points help demarcate various zones without blocking any sightlines. For the living area, Becca designed a convincing fireplace façade that warms up the look. The juxtaposition of the classic Louis Philippe-style mirror and the contemporary sconces, along with new, vintage and DIY art, energizes the room.
“As long as you have an idea of colouration, you can take risks and mix and match influences.”
4. Swing Low
Boasting a French neoclassical silhouette, the pair of armchairs Becca had custom made for the living area are deep enough to accommodate her husband, Ryan Casey, who’s quite tall. But the seats are still low to the ground, which visually extends the already high 13-foot ceilings. Along with the antique Chinese elm stool, they temper the industrial vibe of the steel bookshelf and towering original windows.
5. Go Big Bedside
It may seem counterintuitive for a mini master, but the designer opted for full-sized dressers in place of two nightstands. The generous drawers are lifesavers, as the “dinky closet was busting at the seams,” and Becca adores the Gustavian-style pieces’ deep blue tone. The grand metal canopy bed, which came with the scalloped velvet-upholstered headboard, complements the tall dressers.
6. Look Under the Bed
You’d never guess it, but this luxe bed – lushly layered with white linen sheets, a woven Indian bedspread and designer toss cushions – conceals a stack of luggage and plastic bins stuffed with off-season clothing. The accent wall, clad in industrial-chic whitepainted brick veneer, lends a subtle textural backdrop.
7. Trump Trash
Unable to retrofit a custom pullout drawer into the existing kitchen cabinetry, Becca devised a clever spot to stash her trash: A sturdy wheeled hamper hides a lidded bin. The bonus? The bin – made by Steele Canvas Basket, an American manufacturer established in 1921 – echoes the apartment’s industrial history.
8. Take Root
The newly renovated kitchen was too sleek, so the designer swapped the cabinet fronts for classic white Shakers fitted with simple knobs and bin pulls. “I like to fall back to my English roots,” says Becca, who extended the cooking zone with a wood-topped free-standing island painted in a green-tinged neutral (Pigeon by British paint darling Farrow & Ball). It’s stocked with vintage dairy crates and stacks of dishes, adding both storage and charm.
9. Maintain Order
In close quarters, keeping surfaces from falling victim to pileup is a challenge. “With such limited space, your home is clean one minute and a total mess the next,” says Becca, who organizes frequently. In fact, her husband teasingly calls her The Queen of Everything in Its Place; luckily, tidiness and the art of editing are second nature to Ryan, a bornand-raised New Yorker.
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