Bi - C
330 East 59th Street, sixth floor (212-308-4888)
Jeffrey Bilhuber appears to be simultaneously channeling Billy Baldwin, Jean-Michel Frank, and Andy Warhol. In other words: bright, bold, big looks: "the very best representations of cultures past mix seamlessly within an optimistic, contemporary envelope." Clients: Randolph Duke, Anna Wintour, Peter Jennings, Iman and David Bowie
Pauline Boardman Ltd.
44 East 67th Street (212-288-8379)
Boardman has moved away from the chintz, fuss, and trim that once characterized Upper East Side decorating and toward an elegant, comfortable Georgian style based on high-impact wall colors and natural-hued upholstery. She emphasizes climate, client preference, and context. Clients: Pepe and Emilia Fanjul, Carroll Petrie
Muriel Brandolini Inc.
167 East 80th Street (212-249-4920)
A self-described "color freak," Brandolini doesn't shy away from pattern, either, applying vibrant block-printed fabrics to walls, windows, upholstery. "I use colors boldly, because I believe it to be paramount in creating a place where people can be happy," she says. And the enterprising designer has three lines: fabrics, home furnishings, and clothing. Clients: Matt and Annette Lauer, Christopher and Pia Getty, Pavlos and Marie-Chantal of Greece
Sheila Bridges Design
1925 Seventh Avenue, No. 8M (212-678-6872)
Bridges's taste runs to the natural, unusual, and minimal -- classic pale rooms that frame exceptional furniture finds. "I bring the outdoors inside with trays of grass, stones, and shells," she says, continuing the theme with sisal rugs and raw silks in bleached, beachy colors. Bridges is currently working on her own TV show, to air in January on the new Fine Living channel. Clients: Bill Clinton, Peter Norton, Tom Clancy
Thomas Britt Incorporated
136 East 57th Street, Suite 701 (212-752-9870)
Britt, no wallflower, knows the power of a great room, enhancing the grandeur of prewar spaces (or finding the beauty in an ordinary apartment) via oversize furnishings, plush fabrics, mirrors, and marble. "I take a large-scale, clean-cut approach whether it be classical or contemporary," he says. "I like texture and solid colors in clear, bright tones." Britt cuts the opulence with the addition of Indian rugs or quirky objects from his travels. Clients: The Raj Mata of Jaipur, Ambassador Charles Price, Seymour Milstein
120 East 80th Street (212-988-6811)
The ultimate Buatta room, according to its creator, has "an undecorated look -- like it fell into place over a client's lifetime." Known for his love of chintz, Buatta orchestrates prints better than anyone, layering stripes, florals, needlepoint rugs, and chinoiserie. "It's traditional for today -- a combination of the best of the past and the best of today's upholstery and reproductions." Clients: Barbara Walters, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, Malcolm Forbes
Clodagh Design International
670 Broadway (212-780-5300)
Clodagh's bold, environmentally conscious approach to design doesn't skimp on the details. She's known for stone sinks, concrete floors, and hand-loomed textiles, but all that -- and the feng shui, too -- comes after some major client bonding. "It's almost like working as a travel guide," she says, "bringing people to where they want to be now, gazing into the future to help them visualize how their place might look in ten years." Clients: Robert Redford, Mo Vaughn, Sylvia Rhone
Christopher Coleman Interior Design
70 Washington Street, Suite 1005, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-222-8984)
Coleman's interiors are fresh, bright, and family-friendly, with exceptional kids' rooms, built-in storage, and a great use of color -- these days, he's leaning toward "colored resin, anodized colored metals, and embroidery on fabrics, especially in shades of purple, red, and orange." Clients: Kate Betts, Jane Henson, Sylvester Stallone
Robert Couturier Inc.
69 Mercer Street (212-463-7177)
Couturier's projects, whether Mexican estates or Manhattan apartments, are "clear, light, spacious, and comfortable, with fantasy and humor," he says. He mixes balanced, logical layouts with elaborate combinations of antique and contemporary furniture and patterned fabrics. "I love green and blue together. Or reds. I love hot-color spaces. And all textures." Clients: Sir James Goldsmith, Amy Fine Collins, Andrew Solomon
Milly de Cabrol, Ltd.
150 East 72nd Street, Suite 2C (212-717-9317)
De Cabrol's talent is to make rooms look as if they've always been in the family, via comfortable antiques, rich colors, and always a nook in which to curl up and read. "My concept is 'happy to be at home,' " De Cabrol explains. "I like to have a little bit of every culture, like a melting pot." Clients: Patricia Morrisroe, Jeffrey Toobin, Gale Hayman