This living room story is a perfect example of a situation that called for a designer’s expertise. The homeowner had a great eye and fabulous furniture and artwork, but after she merged two Upper West Side apartments into one, the large scale of the room was too overwhelming for her to handle alone. “She really just needed help with the layout and tieing it all together,” says interior designer Julie China, who helped give the extra-large room great flow and cohesive, chic style.
Photos by Anna Herbst
Living Room at a Glance
What happens here: Entertaining, conversations, reading, dining, traversing through a long apartment
Location: Upper West Side of Manhattan
Size: 474 square feet (44 square meters)
Designers: Julie and Darren China of Idea Space Architecture + Design
The space was originally two living rooms in two separate apartments. (The beam in the ceiling marks where the wall between them used to be.) Once the apartments were combined, the new room measured 24 feet by 19 feet 9 inches. China divided the space into two distinct but cohesive areas: the living area on the left and the dining area on the right.
“My client has great style but she was stumped as to how to lay out the space,” China says. The kitchen is to the right, so it made sense to put the dining area on that side. Toward the bottom of the plan, you can see two runners, which create an open corridor to direct traffic through the apartment.
Extending a custom broadloom rug across both areas helped tie them together, soften the room and avoid the costly move of redoing the floors, which were a little wonky where the wall had been. Plus, at 474 square feet, that’s a whole lot of parquet. “The rug has a nice texture to it that has kind of a subtle mottled pattern and incorporates the neutral tones my client likes,” China says.
Chair and ottoman: Room and Board
“My client had a lot of cool pieces but needed help putting them all together,” the designer says. For example, she already had this fantastic daybed, which China placed in the center of the space. “It’s a great transitional piece — it’s low and it’s not bulky like a sofa would have been,” she says. “It has an open, inviting quality so that people can sit on it and converse with either side of the room.”
China created a comfortable seating area by incorporating existing pieces like the armchair, the artwork and the vintage Harvey Probber coffee table, and by adding new ones like the sofa, classic Grasshopper lamp
and custom pillows. The chair on the right mixes in leather and walnut. The entire tableau is a fresh nod to midcentury modern design. The table lamp is a classic designed by Achille Castiglioni in 1962.
Sofa: Custom, in fabric by Perennials; pillow fabric on right: Knoll; pillows on left: custom with Samuel & Sons leather piping; Taccia table lamp: Flos
To the left of the runners is the kitchen, and the entryway is just out of view to the right. The bench brings in texture and serves as a spot to put on or take off shoes as one exits or enters the apartment.
China worked with her client’s existing dining table and added new upholstered chairs. A fiddle leaf fig in a midcentury modern-style planter adds life in the corner of the dining area. A large mirror matches the scale of the space.
Dining chairs: Design Within Reach; chandelier: Visual Comfort
The layered window treatments were the final touch. “The windows felt cold before — the new window treatments make the room inviting and complete the space,” China says. The structural sheer Roman shades offer privacy while letting the light through, while ripple-fold wool drapery adds softness to the wall.
Room of the Day: Strategies for Laying Out a Large Space