Sometimes, Rita Konig thinks, it does seem “rather daft” to live in such an English way in New York. There are moments when she feels the Manhattan House winking at her or briefly mulls the appeal of a “modern box” way up in the sky. But Konig, who is an interior designer and the author of two books on how to live and eat (she also blogs for the Times’ T consortium and was an editor-at-large at the late Domino), has stayed true to some of the very best British decorating traditions; her rooms look like places you might actually want to plonk down in with a book or cleverly self-deprecating friends. Konig, who grew up in London and is the daughter of decorator Nina Campbell, simply has a knack for creating comfort—and she’s especially good at replicating that slightly messy, piled-on British look within the confines of a small New York apartment.
Rita Konig on her apartment’s influences:
I liked the apartment’s higgledy-piggledy-ness, which one doesn’t find so easily in New York. I was looking last February in the freezing cold, and the fireplace really sold the apartment, even though there isn’t a bathtub.
The pros just outweighed the cons, the biggest of which seemed to be entering through the kitchen, which in London is a completely unheard-of idea.
My very first plan was to get rid of some hideous lights [not visible here] that were, and still are, flanking the window in the living room, but now, after I put in dimmers—one of the best things I did— I am rather fond of them.
I rather enjoy their ugliness. All houses need a little ugly.
Mecox is such a good stop for decorating—you have to keep stopping in. [It’s on Lexington Avenue.] Also, Calypso Home. And John Derian. And Mantiques Modern, a really good junk shop in Chelsea, especially for bar stuff, large ashtrays, table lighters, cocktail shakers. It is very smart.
I have always liked decorating my small apartments as though they are just a few of the rooms in a much larger house, so you have the feeling that you could, should you want to, wander off to the drawing room, library, dining room, but for the moment are just choosing to be in this rather cozy study. Maybe it is peculiar to the English, but you know how people in huge houses live in a tiny room with all the dogs and the television? This is sort of the reverse of that.
You just have to be able to sink back at home. If there aren’t comfortable chairs or a sofa, you are sunk. I am more interested in that, really, than the trim on the curtains. Sitting and chatting is what I really like most of all in the whole world.