Ask any seasoned decorator and they’ll tell you: every client has their own thing. It could be an obsession with kitchen counters, perhaps, or just a penchant for designer chairs. For a recent project on New York’s Upper East Side by interior designer Hadley Wiggins and architect Anderson Kenny, that preoccupation was color — or rather, the best way to render the absence of it. The client, Elanna Allen, is a famous illustrator and animator known for her children’s books and cartoons. She shares the house with her husband and two young children. “She’s an amazing artist with an amazing sense of color, so it wasn’t the case for her to be like, ‘Oh, I want it to be creamy with bone tones. It was ‘which of the 300 shades of bone do we want and why?’ says Wiggins.
Wiggins was up for the challenge. “I love that kind of specificity,” she admits. A self-taught designer who got her start in advertising before embarking on a career in design, Wiggins is known for her colorful and richly textured interiors, always with a distinct patina thanks to a careful selection of vintage furniture. and art. In fact, she ran an antique store for several years in North Fork, Long Island, which now serves as an armory for her various design projects. She describes the flat in neutral tones as an exercise in precision and restraint. “For me, it’s minimal,” she says.
To develop the palette for the three-bedroom pre-war apartment, Wiggins sought advice from color expert Eve Ashcraft, who has advised clients ranging from Martha Stewart to blue-chip architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Together they studied the house’s exposure to natural light: strong and direct in the bright south-facing master bedroom, and weaker and more diffused in the northwest-facing living room and dining room. “We spent a lot of time thinking about how the light and shadows would change during the day,” says Kenny, who tore down the walls of several smaller interior rooms to open up the kitchen and library adjacent to the windows. oriented to the west. . “And how that would contribute to the feeling of being in the apartment.”
They landed on a two-tone palette in subtle variations of white, gray, and barely pale green for the kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom. “There’s a beautiful dustiness to all the tones,” Wiggins says of the hues, which have the muted quality of a vintage photograph. “All finishes are really dry, thirsty and flat.”
From there, they started building the secondary tones. “We identified this sour green velvet early on as our accent,” says Wiggins, who used the fabric to upholster the living room couch. She explains that the owners chose it for its resemblance to a beloved beanbag in their old home. “We called it the family fabric,” she adds. She incorporated the same shade into various floral-patterned accents in the living room: William Morris wallpaper in the hidden bar; a vintage wrought iron bench upholstered in a Clarence House print next to the fireplace; and Pierre Frey cushions on the sofa.
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