After a dramatic life change, a woman with several successful careers -- including one as the former CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia -- turns to the renovation of her family's apartment for comfort and clarity.
The antique chest in the living room of Susan Lyne's Manhattan apartment came from the Washington, D.C., home of Kay Halle, the aunt of her late husband, journalist George Crile. Halles bronze bust, by Isamu Noguchi, sits on top; the curtains are natural linen.
In the adjacent library, inexpensive wood molding was added to the walls to give the room an old-world atmosphere. The golden color palette and the asymmetrical arrangement of art, which includes works on paper by Gaston Lachaise, keep the room fresh and contemporary. The club chairs are covered in a practical printed cotton that resembles damask.
The staircase was completed with a railing, the Biedermeier chair is covered in horsehair velvet, and the stool is Chinese. The drawings include several Lyne and Crile collected, as well as gifts from Crile's parents and aunt. The wooden animal beneath the console table is one of dozens Crile picked up while on foreign assignment. Decorator Kevin Sharkey installed an eight-foot-tall mirror to create the impression of a grand double staircase. Staircases are usually great places for mirrors," he says, "as they tend to be dark, awkward spaces."
The living area, like so many rooms in the apartment, contains formal furnishings updated for a modern family. The antique console table was freshened with a new marble top; the sofa was re-covered in a Fortuny fabric; and bookshelves were installed on opposite walls. The high-end pieces are mixed with practical choices, including matchstick blinds, a sisal carpet, and plain linen curtains hung from unobtrusive curved rods. They echo the pale color palette and keep the mood casual.
A wide doorway opens the kitchen to the living room but manages to hide the work area from view. Custom bookshelves lend the living room a cozy feel. The armchairs are upholstered in a soft chenille fabric, and the Chinese tea box was purchased by Lyne on a trip to Hong Kong. In the kitchen, a door brought back from Morocco and chair seats covered in three different Fortuny fabrics add decorative richness.
The guest bedroom, which overlooks Central Park, is covered in a charming butterfly-and-bird-patterned wallpaper. "Its flamboyant," Lyne says. "In here it's all birds and sky." The coverlet matches the pale-blue ceiling, and the bed skirt was copied from a decorative template published in the September 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
An antique birdcage sits on a stool that, like all the furniture in the guest room, was painted black. Sharkey chose this color to unify the disparate pieces, most of which were hand-me-downs, and to make the furniture stand out against the wallpaper. "Black is popular, forgiving, and handsome, he says. It can easily hold its own against all that pattern. In this room, black feels very contemporary."