Layered for Living
April 2, 2013
Text by Stacy Kunstel Photography by Ronny Carroll
An interior designer outfits her own Stamford apartment in a mix of black and white, classic and modern, infusing the standard white box of a place with style.
Luxuriously stretched out across the nine-foot-long, velvet-covered sectional sofa, Roxy knows exactly how good she’s got it. Down-filled Scalamandré pillows are hers to drool on while she lazily watches touches of crystal refract light in a rainbow of colors across the walls and ceiling of her apartment. The color palette—a mix of soft whites, textured grays and statement pieces in black along with bits of gold and silver—perfectly match her well-groomed coat.
She may disagree that the sofa needs to be re-covered, thanks in part to her, but Roxy seems to know how lucky she is to have found a loving owner who also happens to be a talented interior designer.
It was a rough start for the two-and-a-half-year-old American bulldog-boxer mix. Abandonment, possible abuse and homelessness were her lot until she found Tiffany Eastman. Now she lives in a newly built high-rise in a developing part of Stamford.
Roxy had to get used to the elevator and the sound of her nails clicking on the hardwood floors. Eastman faced her own challenge, filling what looked like a big white box with all the comforts of home. “It had an open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows like a loft, but everything was brand new,” says the designer. “This meant I had to create the personality of the space.”
The 1,200-square-foot apartment looks as though a collector with a penchant for a touch of Hollywood glam has lived there for years, adding pieces from antiques stores and world travels over time. Silver-framed intaglios and etchings flank a gilt mirror in the zig-zag entryway where Eastman added a vintage modern light fixture that looks like a firework caught mid-explosion. A vintage bureau lacquered stark white and a pair of bull horns hanging high near the ceiling give an “I’ve lived here for years” look.
“It’s one of the things that drew me to the space,” Eastman says of the entry hall, which also holds a chrome bench covered in a vinyl that could be mistaken for snakeskin. “You don’t walk directly into a room. There’s a feeling of, ‘What’s around the corner?’ ”
From the entrance, a few steps and a turn take you into the main living space banded in ten-foot-high windows. Roxy’s favorite perch—the large sofa—wraps a chow-foot coffee table topped with marble slab. Stacks of fashion and decoration books surround a crystal punchbowl overflowing with white orchids.
“The colors are all soothing,” says Eastman of the neutral palette. “I deal with colors all day so I need something calm.”
Sheers soften the views, along with an antique Chinese Chippendale mirror Eastman hung over the windows. “I didn’t want there to be any distraction with the views,” she says. “But there’s also not a lot of wall space. The mirror keeps the windows from looking too sterile.”
From the mirror-on-window to the objects on the coffee table to the rug-on-rug underneath, it’s clear that layering is key. “I like lots of layers,” says Eastman. “Without layering you’re not able to achieve that character that comes from mixing old with new. These are things that I’ve acquired over the years. It starts to look too special if there’s just one type of look. You need age. Also, classic things are calming.”
Sparkle is another theme found in the living room, the guest room-turned-office and the master bedroom and bath. Glints of crystal, silver and gold lend warmth and femininity to the rooms despite some decidedly masculine furniture. “Sparkle is the glamorous undertone,” says Eastman. “The sparkle adds femininity to the heavy sofa and bookcase and to the rectangular headboard in the bedroom.”
In her bedroom, Eastman’s layering takes on a three-dimensional role, giving structure to the architecturally devoid space. Above the upholstered headboard punctuated by a geometric nailhead trim hangs a round white mirror with a concave frame and a pair of brackets holding urns. “A painting above the bed would be just a rectangle over a rectangle,” the designer notes. “It would have been much too hard and dimensionally just too flat.”
Mirrors on both nightstands draw the eye up, breaking the plane of the headboard, while two driftwood lamps give the room movement.
One area where Eastman didn’t add layers or organic forms was the kitchen. The dark wood cabinets were not her choice, so she kept the look as neutral as possible. “The kitchen is exposed in the main space so it’s a mix of practical and display,” she says. “I just didn’t want it to stick out so I used very few accessories—that’s my secret when something isn’t your favorite.”
Part of living well includes a terrace off the living room where the designer can catch some sun and skyline views while Roxy practices her downward dog on a green outdoor carpet that could easily be taken for grass. Black-and-white striped chairs surround a chrome table with an element of whimsy—a large dog sculpture that came out of a New York City department store display.
Just inside the terrace door is Eastman’s office. An Ikea cabinet to which she added some fancy hardware holds her library while the opposite wall holds files and inspirational art. “I’ve considered getting an office outside of the house, but there’s something to be said about being able to wander into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee or a sandwich,” she says. “There’s also something about working on the schemes for beautiful client projects while being surrounded by beautiful things yourself. It’s a warmth that an office just doesn’t have.”
Her desk is a consignment store find she had lacquered black, and the silver and gold lamp is a piece her sister found, to which she added a Lucite base. “I’m constantly looking,” says Eastman. “I try not to hang onto things too much. I can always find more stuff that speaks to me and inspires me. That’s the fun part.”
Eastman considers Roxy her best find yet and one she’s not parting with anytime soon. As for Roxy, she realizes that the challenge of living with a designer is that things are always changing. She thinks the sofa’s just fine the way it is, though. •
Interior Design: Tiffany Eastman Interiors