Forget the build-it-yourself bookshelves and cookie-cutter wall art—when you’re cousins with Next Wave designer Caroline Rafferty, your first solo New York City apartment is bound to be anything but basic.
“It was her first place in the city without a roommate and she really wanted to decorate it her way,” says Rafferty of the two-bedroom Tribeca apartment that her younger cousin, an art history graduate who had recently moved to the city, had enlisted her to turn into a proper home. “She was ready to do something glam but it still had to be fresh and not too formal—and she wanted to take some risks.”
With its floor-to-ceiling windows, river views, and high-end finishes, the apartment provided a strong starting point; however, notes Rafferty, it was still a white-box rental. “We needed to soften it up and personalize it without making any big changes—no wallpaper allowed,” the designer explains.
For that, Rafferty relied on a combination of bold color, tactile materials, and one-of-a-kind furnishings, some of which had been handed down from their grandmother, others custom designed for the apartment (like the sectional sofa, which has dual chaises for two-person movie nights). Decorative wall finishes—like Sydney Harbour Paints’ Lime Wash, which “looks almost like a strié,” says the designer—give the effect of wallpaper without risking any landlord backlash, while plug-in sconces were “installed” in the bedroom. “We had to embrace it!” laughs Rafferty.
And, of course, there’s plenty of vintage—Rafferty, who owns The Grand Tour in Palm Beach, is especially fond of midcentury Italian pieces. “The curves make everything seem more organic,” she says. “Even though the apartment’s finishes lent themselves to a more serious, almost masculine vibe, we made it feel like her!”
Chair: Laura Bohinc, through Grand Tour Palm Beach. Mirror: vintage, through John Salibello, Console: vintage, through 1stdibs.
“The blue we chose reads as almost a neutral,” says Rafferty. “It has some movement to it, which softens the lines of the space.” Sectional: custom through Rosehyll Studio in a Holly Hunt fabric. Side tables: Studio Van den Akker. Cocktail table: Hermès.
Dining table: vintage, through 1stDibs. Chairs: Studio Van den Akker in a Toyine Sellers fabric. Chandelier: Roll and Hill. Curtain fabric: Pierre Frey.
The Julian Chichester stools are upholstered in a worry-free performance fabric from Jiun Ho.
The headboard (in a Romo tweed) is based on a 1970s Italian design. A custom blend of Sydney Harbour Paints creates a wallpaper-like strié effect. Sconce: Blueprint Lighting. Pillows: Hermès. Curtain fabric: Rouse Phillips, through Grand Tour Palm Beach. Bedding: custom, through A Touch of Lace in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Rafferty paired her client’s existing headboard—recovered in a green velvet—with a custom-blended pale pink wall color from Sydney Harbour Paints; the abstract Eskayel curtain fabric adds a mod spin to the Palm Beach palette. Bench fabric: Pierre Frey. Nightstand: Julian Chichester.
Gallery: 19 Console Table Decorating Ideas That Tie the Whole Room Together (House Beautiful)
1) Tuck Stools Underneath
2) Display On-Theme Flowers
3) Take It to the Dining Room
4) Spruce Up the Floors
5) Slide In a Bench
6) Mix and Match
7) Set the Right Tone
8) Use a Pedestal
9) Try a Bench
10) Drape Some Fabric
11) Spring for Two Tiers
12) Put a Stool to Use
13) Stack Coffee Table Books
14) Treat It Like a Mantel
15) Go Halvsies
16) Turn It Into a Desk
17) Choose Functional Decor
18) Be Strategic About Storage
19) Put It Behind a Sofa