This 1920s New York Apartment Combines Bold Colors and Playful Patterns

The twist? It was all designed with young kids in mind.

When Elizabeth and Adrien Fraise bought their Manhattan, NYC, apartment, it had been professionally decorated and came mostly furnished. Ten years and two kids later, neither the layout nor the somewhat fusty inherited interiors worked for their young family. But it took a leak from the apartment upstairs to jump-start their renovation with interior designer Emily C. Butler.

Fraise home tour living room with eclectic furniture

Annie Schlechter

The living room is indeed colorful, but Butler notes that its underpinnings (walls, carpet, sofa) are all neutral tones. Tough gray sisal can stand up to family life, and the dark tone anchors the room.

Butler chose Benjamin Moore Mountain Mist for the ceiling, "to add a little bit of color without the room feeling like it was a color," she says. Replacing swags of fussy formal drapery with crisp linen Roman shades instantly made the room lighter and brighter. Benjamin Moore Timid White unites and freshens walls, built-ins, moldings, ad the mantel.

Every type of seat in the space has a different pattern (even the tweed sofa has a subtle herringbone design). Butler chose the boldest prints for the smallest furnishings and pillows to keep them from overwhelming the room. It's also a cost-saving strategy to use a special fabric on a smaller piece.

Butler says one key to mixing this many patterns is to pay attention to scale, placing quieter prints next to larger bold ones, like the soft green fabric on the chairs paired with the bright, graphic yellow throw pillows.

The couple's artwork collection amplifies the home's color scheme, and new upholstery and fringy trim update the existing sofa.

Fraise home tour orange wallpaper entryway

Annie Schlechter

The elevator vestibule outside the apartment hints at the decor within: It is colorful, playful, and highly functional. Baskets, bowls, and a blue-and-white ceramic umbrella stand hold grab-and-go items.

Butler rearranged the narrow kitchen to create a classic fridge-range-sink work triangle. She ran the cabinets to the ceiling to maximize storage and tucked in a pantry behind a grass-cloth-covered panel next to the stove.

In the reconfigured kitchen, Butler designed lockers to "manage all the day-to-day stuff of family life in an elegant way.” Elizabeth says she is especially appreciative of the drawers beneath for shoe storage.

In the dining room, built-ins display pieces the couple have collected and house a small bar. Patterned wallpaper “helps set off the details in the foreground,” Butler says. “It can make your collections feel more special.”

A gap beneath the built-in bench allows for the table to be pushed in and used as a buffet when the couple entertain.

Floral wallpaper was a touchstone for the palette of the whole home: Blue and coral are threaded through every space, appearing in different saturations and proportions in each room.

Butler repeated the grosgrain ribbon-as-border trick in the entry. She had a pro install it, but it’s an easy DIY, she says. Do pay attention to details, like the mitered corners around the door frame.

Elizabeth and Adrien decided to keep the previous owner’s luxuriously upholstered bedroom walls, but Butler lightened up the formal look with simplified furnishings.

Butler’s take on fully wallpapering a small bath? “It’s a little bit overwhelming.” Instead, she specified painted paneling on the lower half of the room (Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue).

children's bedroom with red comforter and stuff animals

Annie Schlechter

In Porter's room, cardinal red grosgrain ribbon applied as trim beneath the molding sets off the pale blue walls. (Porter says the wall color reminds him of Minecraft’s signature cyan.)

The 6-by-11-foot kids den packs in function. A sleeper sofa that sleeps sideways makes room for overnight guests (and movie nights). Scrubbable vinyl grass cloth covers the high-touch walls. The built-in bookcase features a pullout desktop to create a flexible work and play space for the boys.

Styled by Frances Bailey

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