A chic New York family apartment designed by Peti Lau

Published As:

Pitch Perfect

Interior Design: Peti Lau

Text: Erika Heet

Photography: Brittany Ambridge

After creating a cohesive flow for clients who combined two apartments into one in a 1923 building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, designer Peti Lau was called back in to update it for the needs of their changing lifestyle, which included raising three teenagers. “I wanted it to feel cozy, but with separations within the spaces,” Lau says. “It’s been rewarding to be able to witness the kids grow up and learn how to design for their needs.” Those needs included combining the living and dining areas, adding a bathroom and family room and, for the mom, carving out a piano nook in the living room. Lau and her client selected the Pardus Toile wallpaper from Vale London, its peonies, tulips, panthers and serpents rising like vine tendrils from the floor to the ceiling. “It had vertical movement to create height inside the nook, and it wasn’t in the way,” Lau says. “The client always wanted a snake tattoo, but never ended up getting one. So this was her snake tattoo, but on her walls.”

A sense of chic formality begins at the entrance. “To give the entry its own moment, I came up with a beautiful marble pattern stone on the floor,” Lau says. Horizontal movement comes courtesy of the Phillip Jeffries wallcovering, which continues onto a jib door that conceals the powder room and its riot of color within: the iconic zebra wallcovering from Schumacher in Masai red, famously used at Gino’s restaurant on the Upper East Side. Red is represented in the family room, which also serves as a TV, music and guest room, but here it is offered as a rich burgundy in the millwork and on the sofa, which plays off the Mulberry patterned wallpaper. Despite its Lilliputian footprint, Lau says, “By using a lot of mixed patterns and color, the space didn’t feel so small, but more inviting and cozy.”

The living room is an exercise in spatial restraint. To save precious space, Lau devised a long, built-in bench and window seat (covered in a Holland & Sherry fabric) that spans one entire wall and extends to the adjacent dining area. The Sedgwick & Brattle ottoman cleverly references the entrance hall wallcovering, while Lau’s ikat print fabric for Ubud offsets the Lawson and Fenning armchair covered in a deep rust velvet from Rose Uniacke.

In the dining area, delicate Jonathan Adler dining chairs surround a bold wood table. Against the wall, a space-saving bench sits beneath a contemporary, black-dominated painting, while a blown-glass Infinity cluster by John Pomp in a smoke finish hovers above. Another striking light, a three-pendant cluster from Souda, exists as an art object and solves the challenge of an immovable off-center soffit in the kitchen. “Choosing a pendant allowed us to swag it in different directions and allowed for the off-center column not to be so noticeable,” Lau says. But one would be hard pressed to notice any symmetrical challenges with such delicious surfaces as the marble slab from Artistic Tile that waterfalls over the sides of the island, and the classic subway tile backsplash in a crackled glaze finish. As thoroughly as Lau laid out the public spaces, so did she set up the family’s private rooms. The primary bedroom, which retains its original paneling and Arts and Crafts details, feels contemporary thanks to Lau’s layering of innovative materials. “We wanted to keep the integrity of that history and beautiful craftsman style, but we updated it with a fresh and calm palette,” Lau says of the room. For the slender vintage turquoise table lamps, for example, Lau customized lampshades with a modern silhouette and a subtle strié. She chose Holland & Sherry for Cullman & Kravis cinnabar drapery fabric, and lined just the top of the walls in a gray tweed from Carlisle. “I love using texture and color in a way that feels luxurious, relaxed, warm and tactile,” Lau says. “Using tweed made me imagine what a beautiful Chanel coat would feel like on a wall. It was a good way to tie the blue tiles and white paneling together.” From a snake tattoo to a tweed Chanel coat, this project has everything for a family to exist together in cool luxury. Peti Lau Design, petilau.com

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