In just two years, interior designer , along with her two kids and husband, have moved five times. With five moves worth of picking up and putting down, most homeowners would surrender to a move-in-ready, fuss-free space to settle into. But that's not Carolyn's style. The acclaimed designer was browsing through the pages of Street Easy when she discovered a listing in one of her favorite buildings–a condo on a cherry-tree lined street in Tribeca’s historic district. She made an offer that same day. The offer was accepted, and from that point forward she knew her work was cut out for her.
“The home was very dark and cavernous, the layout was weird and there was no overhead lighting. It felt oddly large but had no flow,” she says.
Only a short time after closing the deal, the renovations began. Carolyn stripped down every surface of the home, adding three custom doorways, creating four separate wings, and completely reimagining the architecture, for better flow and light.
"Each wing has its own aesthetic, with everything from traditional European influences to nomadic materials, all interpreted through a bold, clean-lined use of space. The modern twist on the old-world is the uniting factor in my home,” she explains. A global nomad and self-proclaimed wanderluster, Carolyn’s home is a distillation of fun, filled with refined and eclectic touches that balance old and new. The four bedroom condo is, as Carolyn puts it, her “final landing pad.”
We got a chance to chat with the designer about her favorite spaces, and the process of crafting the perfect home.
"The living room is definitely my favorite room. It has that old world feeling with the plaster and blackened walls and vintage windows. There’s an interesting story behind the pair of curved, Donghia-inspired sofas, which almost did not come to pass in my home. They were plagued at multiple stages in the production (ex. delivery failure), when I had an idea. I commissioned New York City textile artist Rhiannon Platt to embroider 'Existential sofa' and 'Radical knitter' in hand-stitches across the back of each sofa, as a sort of creative expression. The living room is witty and handcrafted, something that really draws people in.”
“After working in many different offices throughout my career, I love having this home office. It allows me to be a working professional and a mom simultaneously; it’s a peaceful environment that stimulates both creativity and productivity. Growing up, I loved collaging. In honor of that love, I built a five-foot tall inspiration board into the wall, which is one of my favorite parts of the room. The teal fretwork was inspired by metal fretwork on armoires in France, and the swing down lights were inspired by reading nooks in London, both of which are places I love to travel to, and give me a sense of peace in the space.”
The office is one of the four wings in the home, and incorporates a modern tromp l’oeil grid pattern cork floor, inspired by the flooring of the Plaza’s Oak Room and the Morgan Library.
The office desktop features Cleo Table Lamps from and a hand-tooled leather inset panel by one of the last Italian-trained leather artisans remaining in New York City, .
The playroom area–which boasts a modern and playful design–is furnished with a yellow-toned Turkish modular sofa that turns into a "megabed" and counterbalances the purples and pinks of the room.
“In the playroom, I added a doorway to give the kids a sense of personal space and homeyness. Just like in the office, the playroom has cork floors, which is not only kid friendly, but also helps create a natural transition between the spaces."
The kitchen, which is completely custom, is located just past the entryway through gorgeous mirrored French pivot doors. The kitchen’s modern framework is woven with vintage touches, including the use of restored glass that echoes the windows in the living room.
“We opted for a black range, fume hood, and hardware, and kept the cabinetry light to create contrast. The inside of the cabinets and drawers are made of black melamine, making them extremely durable and easy to clean, while adding an unique decorative accent.”
A highlight of the space is the artwork: two oversized pieces by German/Italian artist Markus Brunetti and a custom-made wall map are placed across the room. The map was designed and commissioned by Carolyn 11 years ago, and it has accompanied the family around all their homes over the years. Silver pins represent everywhere they have traveled together. “This is what I would theoretically yank out of the wall to bring with me, in case of a fire,” Carolyn says.
The extensive renovation included stripping every surface and material of the once-dark space, transforming it into a bright and vibrant home. In the kids’ bathroom, Carolyn wanted the space to feel sunny, which is why she opted for rich yellow tiles and a complementary vanity.
The master bedroom showcases a minimalist approach to walls and millwork, and includes a recessed bedside niche and fan-shaped headboard crafted out of cerused oak. Carolyn worked with proprietor Steve McKinney of in Johnson City, TN, to get the correct color tone, distress level, and dimensions of the exposed hollow wood beams to encase a Lutron lighting system inside.
“I wanted the master bedroom to have a lived-in vibe, for it to be serene. The bedroom is the only place I used carpet, and the high ceilings with rustic wood beams gave the space an enveloping sense of coziness.”
“I wanted the master bathroom to be a continuation of that serene, cocoon-like feeling that is evident in the bedroom. From the silver leaf tiles that were handmade in Arizona, to the terrazzo floors purchased from a family in Tennessee, I tried to source as much domestically as I could.”