A tiny Trump box gets the tropical treatment — an invigorating coat of orange.

Interior designer Matthew White knew there was a simple way to ease the Miami-New York transition for his old friend Jorge Vargas: Just add orange. White drenched Vargas's 300-square-foot Trump Place rental a Tropicana hue, earning it the nickname "the Papaya." "People are intimidated by strong color in small spaces," White says. "But you only have one shot to say something. If you're going to paint it white, you've given up your shot." Vargas, the makeup supervisor of Broadway's Aida, got the apartment painted between shows, while Los Angeles-based White hit the local fleas, searching for furniture with Pop Art flavor to complement the cartoon color. He struck gold with a Saarinen-esque but unpedigreed ball chair, lining the interior in chic lime velvet. A notions shop provided strings of iridescent beads, which White cut into a Ziegfeld-worthy window curtain. Xeroxes of classical columns gave the brand-new apartment some architectural detail. Vargas asked for only one thing: "I told Matthew I need a touch of animal somewhere." White picked a synthetic white tiger rug — "very Siegfried & Roy" — soft enough for an afternoon nap. "As you walk up to his building when everyone's lights are on, you can see this glowing orange room," says White, who now wishes his own Manhattan pied--terre was a little more l'orange. "I keep thinking, The poor neighbors — they don't know what they're missing."


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Photo: Joshua McHugh