It's not every day that an interior designer gets to go back and design the same home twice, but in the case of Gideon Mendelson, it was a marriage that prompted the redesign of a space he had created a few years prior. "I designed the apartment for the husband before he met his wife," says Mendelson of the three-bedroom, three-bath high-rise on New York City's Upper West Side. "It was a great experience. He was very open to the design process and excited about our ideas. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to design for him again."
The new brief was simple: The wife already loved all the choices Mendelson had made in the original apartment—only, she wanted the space to feel like theirs, not only his. And so they called on the help of the designer once more to breathe new life into the space, and marry their two styles: his, a more global modern aesthetic, and hers, a colorful style full of pattern and whimsy.
Though the designer considers himself a modernist, he was able to create a space with a sense of tradition that married the two perspective—not without adding a touch of modern in the lighting and some of the furniture choices. "After the program and functional requirements of a project are determined, I start by talking to my clients about what they want spaces to feel like," says Mendelson. "Discussions of color palettes come from there, and a scheme is born."
Think you can't mix modern and traditional? Think again—Gideon Mendelson makes the case for a colorful new-traditional style.
The designer kept a handful of pieces from the preview design, and integrated it into the new scheme: "Luckily she loved everything we had done previously. She just wanted it to feel like their home, not just his. Marrying two different aesthetics was the biggest challenge but also the best part of the project. It was fun presenting schemes and seeing how much I could push him with color and her with texture. We really came up with something unique that’s right for them."
"It’s always a fun challenge to marry two different aesthetics and create something unique and personal," explains the designer. "He likes handsome and modern with a touch of global. She likes pattern and color with a touch of whimsy. We created a home that works for both of them—a well curated, sophisticated space full of visual interest that emphasize stunning views of the Hudson River and northern Manhattan. Functionally, we accomplished goals of creating space for entertaining friends and family from overseas and creating ample storage for their belongings."
Though Mendelson describes himself as a modernist at heart, he uses his expertise to respond to his clients' needs and aesthetic leanings: "My clients inspire and drive my work and the look and feel of their homes. I try and understand their aesthetic and shape it into something sophisticated, beautiful, and personal. It’s this personal style combined with a client’s program—how they want to live—that drives the project."
"The living room is a place to entertain friends and unwind as a couple," explains the designer, who added lots of comfortable seating and places to put your feet up. "Aesthetically, we kept the palette simple—shades of minty greens, charcoals, and creams." But the true beauty of the space lies in the textural elements: a hemp-and-wool area rug, a nubby sofa fabric, and furry pillows. "The simple palette and the layered textures combine to add to the sense of calm in the room. More specifically, I happen to love the lighting.
Lamps can bring real artistry to a space, and the clients were open to some pretty fun forms, so the lamps are pretty fun."
"The dining room is a square room, so a round table made the most sense architecturally," explained the designer, who custom designed a round table and chairs to ground the room. "A round table also lends itself to intimacy and conversation. A graphic wall covering and dark trim adds drama to the room and aims to prompt interesting conversation. But the views are the stars of the show—both day and night!"
In the sitting room, the designer wanted to create a space all about soft pattern and color. "Soft gray, golden yellow, and a shot of cranberry is a quiet and relaxing palette—a perfect place to curl up and read a book," he explains. A traditional rug marries well with the small graphic print of the wall covering, while a mix of vintage furnishings gives off an eclectic yet personal vibe. "All the vintage pieces we find for our projects are so special to me. Curating a collection of vintage pieces for someone feels so personal.
No two projects look alike, and clients have a chance to collect designers they really admire or learn to appreciate. And vintage pieces have such a nice sense of history and nostalgia that appeals to me."
In the foyer, the designer wanted to infuse a sense of color and drama to the small windowless space. "The foyer is a small walk-through space," he says. "There is a bench to put on your shoes and place to throw your mail and keys. Other than that, it’s just a lot of fun. Horizontal stripes in fuchsia, a color she was excited about, put a smile on anyone's face, and it's a fun way start things out on the right note as you enter the apartment."
"We only did some minor adjustments architecturally," explains the designer, "But the kitchen and bathrooms were completely gutted." The kitchen counters are quartzite and the glazed brick backsplash is from Ann Sacks. "Durability and style are always the goals in a kitchen," he adds.
But the most special part of the project, according to Mendelson: "Of course, each room has something special that I can mention. Most importantly, my clients are surrounded by beautiful things, and they are hopefully inspired every day. Above all, my favorite thing is that my clients love their home and their life in it. They are comfortable and live effortlessly in the space with plenty of room to host family and friends. That's all that matters."
And now, seven small details to transform your rental (without losing your deposit).