Prewar apartments are prized for spaciousness, graciousness and quality construction. A classic color scheme and sumptuous accents make this beauty shine for a new age.
Even as one young couple fell hard for the large living spaces, soaring ceilings and architectural details of a Manhattan prewar apartment, they knew they’d need help making it feel like home—not only for themselves, but for the baby they were expecting.
“They wanted something classically elegant that also felt fresh and new,” says Tina Yaraghi, the interior designer they chose to help them. “The apartment is in a traditional, old-world building with elegant details. They wanted to honor that, while still creating a welcoming family home.”
The gracious floorplan begins in an elegant foyer with hand-painted Paul Montgomery murals and French antiques. The bedrooms are all on one side, and the social rooms on the other. “I love the formality of the apartment,” says Yaraghi. “Features like solid wood doors, beautiful moldings, wainscoting, floors of marble and hardwood give it a grand feeling.”
One of the grandest spaces is the dining room, with original parquet flooring and a view to the music room, which houses a grand piano. A large bank of windows ensures there’s plenty of light to make the grand chandelier sparkle. “It has every bit the look of a beautiful antique but is, in fact, a brand new chandelier from Ralph Lauren, a true showstopper,” she notes.
To personalize the apartment, Yaraghi came up with a color palette that centered around blue—a favorite color of the owners. The most dramatic expression of this is in the library, which she had lacquered in a rich navy.
“It was a classic wood-paneled library that looked very dated,” says Yaraghi. “When I walked into the library for the first time, I immediately envisioned a rich lacquered room, which would feel both classic New York and yet very current. It was a new concept to the homeowners, but thankfully they trusted my vision and it has since become a favorite room.”
The elaborate lacquering process, which involves painting multiple layers and sanding between each, took
almost three weeks to complete. “It’s a very different technique,” says Yaraghi. “The walls have to be perfect because it’s practically a mirrored sheen. Any imperfection in the wall would show.”
Centered between bookshelves hangs a large painting of former New York Knicks star Walt Frazier. “The husband had owned the painting for a long time and it was important to him to keep it,” says Yaraghi, who had it reframed. “It turned out to be the perfect focal point. It adds a nice jolt of color to the room.”
The library walls are also home to two pieces of Japanese hiragana that the couple brought back from a trip to Japan, framed to match the Frazier painting.
Blue continues as a theme in the living room, whose walls are stenciled in a damask pattern using two shades of the color. This treatment was present when the homeowners purchased the apartment; it made choosing a color scheme easy and feels cohesive with the rest of the home. Classic Chinese blue-andwhite porcelain pieces, many of them from The Enchanted Home, dot the room, adding visual interest and textural variety.
For Yaraghi, the best part of the project was working with the owners. “The success of this job was largely due to the fact that we all shared a similar vision,” she says. “That vision was to create a timelessly beautiful apartment that would function seamlessly for the everyday life of a young growing family.”
The end result of the design work is a sophisticated style reflective of the owners. “There are a lot of cozy spaces despite the formality and elegance of the apartment,” says Yaraghi. “For the holidays, they have family over and there’s plenty of room for everyone—and in New York, that’s saying something.”