Creating a home in a historic ny building

My Domaine recently featured my apartment on their site and we’ve loved seeing all of the comments and feedback from readers.  A few people have asked for more specific information and details on the apartment, so I thought I would talk through it here on the blog! The apartment is in a building that was built in the late 1890’s by architects Clinton and Russell with the original interiors designed by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. Talk about good bones! While the building was originally a single family home (can you believe it?), it was later converted into separate apartments (about 20 of them). All of the apartments have wonderful high ceilings, beautiful windows, and working fireplaces. It definitely doesn’t feel like New York! The apartment itself is small, about 850 square feet and just three rooms: living room, bedroom, kitchen and a bathroom. My boyfriend and I have lots of books and art that we wanted to be able to live with, so I really designed the living room (the place we spend the majority of our waking hours) to feel like a library. I wanted it to have a cozy, lived-in feeling where you could curl up and read a book, enjoy a warm fire, and leave after a few hours feeling inspired and ready to take on the city. As a result, it really does feel like a hideaway. While the living room has lots of pattern and color going on, the bedroom is very simple and soothing. Below, the bookcases in the living room are filled to the brim with as many books as we could jam in!! McGrath_E84th_043The deep and cozy tufted chair in front of the window is a custom piece that I upholstered in one of my all time favorite prints from Quadrille called Jardin des Plantes. This fabric was really the launching pad for all of the other prints that I used in the room.McGrath_E84th_056My mom and I have a love affair with slipper chairs (you may remember, it is one of our 7 essential pieces!). Originally I had nothing in front of the fireplace, but it was feeling a little bit empty and we needed to incorporate some additional seating that could be easily moved around the room. We often put slipper chairs on casters for this reason. I also wanted to bring a little more color into the room, so upholstering the slipper chairs in a soft lavender linen was a nice way to balance the chocolate brown velvet pillows and neutral sofa. We got a lot of comments about the coffee table. This was a piece that I designed based on a popular form from the 1970’s; I had the table made and then had our brilliant decorative painter, Dean Barger, faux finish it with a tortoiseshell top and horn sides and legs. I gravitate towards more traditional forms of upholstered pieces (I find them most comfortable!) so I wanted to incorporate at least one very modern element in the room — and of course the art is all very contemporary! McGrath_E84th_087The sisal carpet is really a non-event. I just needed something to put down on the floors and didn’t want to spend a lot of money since this apartment is not forever. We tend not to spend on rugs because they are often very difficult to bring with you from home to home if you are very transient (me!). McGrath_E84th_073The sofa cushions in a different fabric from the body of the sofa was done for two reasons. First, our dog is very rambunctious and loves to jump all over the furniture–especially the sofa! The fabric of the body of the sofa is 100% linen which is beautiful and textural but not particularly durable if you use your sofa every single day and have lots of wear and tear. So, I upholstered the cushions using a 100% cotton very thick and durable animal print weave for functional purposes but also because I wanted to add another layer of interest and pattern to the room. McGrath_E84th_067The mirror above the mantle belonged to my great grandparents and I’ve brought it with me to every apartment I’ve ever lived in. McGrath_E84th_094Again, the bedroom was left simple and everything in it was designed and purchased to be flexible and easy to move in the future. This apartment is a rental, so we couldn’t alter the walls with paint or wallpaper. In the end, it turned out to be a very calm and soothing space–and, as it happens, there’s no better wall color to show off art than white!McGrath_E84th_005I’ve always loved this desk from the original Mark Hampton collection for Hickory Chair. It’s just a great piece that can live in your home in so many iterations with many different functions. McGrath_E84th_015Let me know if you have any questions on any of the resources! Happy to share! All of these photos were taken by photographer Lucas Allen.

  • Rebecca Apple

    You just made my day. Your apartment is chic, yet cozy–in other words perfect. Would you mind sharing the source for the animal print fabric used on the sofa cushions? I think it’s a genius idea with kids & animals about!

  • Lauren

    Thank you Rebecca! The animal print fabric is byBrunschwig & Fils.

  • Aynsley Connell

    Love your place! Could you please cite the source for the sisal – or better yet, might you do a round-up of the softest sisal/grass rugs around? DH hates rough rugs underfoot!

  • Victoria

    Saw the feature on My Domaine and loved seeing it was your space as I’m a daily reader. Looks beautiful. Could you share the source of the slipper chairs?

  • Lauren

    The sisal was purchased through Rosenfeld Carpet. Unfortunately sisal is just a super rough material by nature and it doesn’t exist any softer! You can get a similar look though using abaca and jute.

  • Lauren

    Thanks Victoria! The slipper chairs were custom made by McGrath II and covered in a linen from Rogers & Goffigon. You can find similar slipper chairs from Oomph!

  • Karin

    I love your rooms and read your blog daily. Could you tell me the resource for your standing lamps in the living room and the lovely Aqua gourd lamp, both in the living room. Thanks!

  • Dabney

    Hi Lauren! I love your home, so charming. The quadrille fabric on your chair is one of my favorites as well. Do you mind sharing where you found the red ikat pillow on your sofa? Thanks!

  • Kristen D

    What wonderful spaces, your apartment is beautiful. I am always in awe of how you mix patterns and colors!

  • Lauren

    Hi Dabney — That ikat is vintage but you can find some similar ones through Brunschwig & Fils!

  • Lauren

    The standing lamps are Ralph Lauren Home and the gourd lamp is Christopher Spitzmiller.

  • Karin

    Can I order the slipper chairs through McGrath ll?

  • Adina

    Love the silvery (nickel?) sconces in the bedroom! Could you tell me where they’re from? Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Can I ask the dimensions of your slipper chairs? I’m curious because I’m looking at adding slipper chairs to my living room but a lot of what I see out there is just too deep for our small space. Your chairs look like the perfect size.

    Thank you! Love your apartment!!


    Let me say congratulations for your beautiful house. I mostly love the combination of colors offered by the books. 🙂 I don’t know if it was on purpose, but the way in which they are arranged perfectly fits with the rest of the room.
    Let me share with you some more inspiration for your future projects. What would you say about adding a story to an interior?
    This is our felt ball rug world, where each rug is unquely created by our lady artisans in Nepal. For all the inspiration, please check here.
    I hope you will like it!:)

  • Christina Pulliam

    Great living room- love it. What are the dimensions of your living room? I’m considering a similar layout and and I’m wondering if the arrangement will work. My living room is 12×19 with two openings on the sofa wall (on either side of the sofa).


  • Zoe Persina

    who makes the gorgeous white desk in your bedroom?

  • Beth Walters

    Hi could you share who makes your coffee table and the white desk in your bedroom? Thanks!