How Chris Coleman Created This Vibrant 4-Bedroom on the Upper West Side

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Firm: Christopher Coleman Interior Design
Completed: 2013
Mandate: Create a showcase for a world-class art collection and a playful space for three kids
Specialty: Residential projects that are modern and family-friendly

The apartment, a four-­bedroom in the Aldyn building with Hudson River views, was in perfect condition, but for the new owners, a young South American couple with three kids, it was far from move-in ready. They wanted to re­arrange the 3,500-square-foot unit and trusted interior designer Chris Coleman with the year-long gut renovation, based on his previous kid-oriented projects. “An open layout with modern family-friendly design and supercool kids’ rooms” was the directive.

With the help of Beton Builders, the space was wired to become a remote-­controlled smart home, then sliced and diced: Part of the hallway was turned into an expanded kitchen area, and the foyer was reconfigured to seal off the colorful corridor that leads to the kids’ wing. While the adults asked for a clean, pattern-free approach in their quarters, the number-one priority for the kids’ bedrooms was fun. Coleman infused their rooms with Memphis Group–inspired motifs and bright colors, designing geometric wallpaper and bedding for the boys and applying a shimmery, oversized paillette wall covering by Tracy Kendall behind the girl’s bed.

A big piece of the puzzle was accommodating the couple’s impressive collection of contemporary Latin American art (including an acrylic sculpture by Jesús Rafael Soto that literally weighs a ton) while avoiding a stuffy museum feeling. To pull that off, Coleman made sure each work had a unique display or place on the wall. “It’s not one of those ‘you can’t sit there’ houses,” he says.

The pièce de résistance is the sleek combination kitchen–great room, where the family gathers to cook, eat, and hang out. “The hard sell was the ceiling in red patent-leather wallpaper,” says Coleman, who chose the material as an ecofriendly alternative to lacquer spray. It’s a bold look, but the reflective shine ends up making the space feel larger and plays nicely with natural elements like the wide-plank wire-brushed wood floors throughout. “It’s modern, but still very homey,” he says.      

*This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of New York Design Hunting.

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