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The Designer Is In: A Midcentury Dream on the Upper West Side


The Designer Is In: A Midcentury Dream on the Upper West Side

October 13, 2012

Decisions about color in a home are intimidating, especially if the goal is to achieve a classic and timeless look that does not date quickly. We’ve asked sisters Jayne and Joan Michaels of New York-based design firm 2 Michaels to talk about how their color decisions are structured around inspiration they derive from paintings. They are available for the next 48 hours to answer any and all questions. Ask away!

An unusual project to say the least: the players? A sophisticated client with an extensive midcentury art and furniture collection (we’re talking a warehouse full); the majority of which she had purchased from Larry Weinberg, a pioneering advocate of midcentury design and owner of the Weinberg Gallery. The designers? Jayne and Joan Michaels, the dynamic sister duo behind 2Michaels (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory). The Michaels sisters drew upon their shared design DNA to create a warm and livable home: “Our mother was an artist, and we have always been obsessed with color palettes,” says Joan. “We were always putting things together in our minds, playing the colors over and over again. Instead of living with art, we like to think of it as living in art.” Read on to see how 2Michaels Design developed the color palette for this Central Park West apartment.

Photography by Frank Veteran.

Above: The Michaels sisters used items from the client’s extensive collection to furnish the entry hall, including a Florence Knoll credenza and an Italian midcentury coat rack. “At one point, we simply laid everything on the floor to see what worked,” says Joan. The bright colors of the abstract paintings by Leonard Edmondson stand out against the warm woods of themidcentury furniture and sculptures.

Above: While the subtle color scheme in the living/dining room was inspired by a Milton Avery painting the sisters saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the painting by Californian painter Alexander Nepote over the mantel was purchased after and pulls the darker elements of the midcentury pottery and light fixtures into the scheme.

Above: The sisters frequent museums and galleries regularly. The inspiration for the color palette in the living/dining room was a Milton Avery painting they saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” When we saw the painting, we knew we had to use the palette and combine it with the green from outside.” The black and white pendant light over the dining room table is by Rene Jean Caillette.

Above: The Michaels sisters found inspiration in this Milton Avery painting.

Above: White linen roman shades create a gentle and diffused light.

Above: The dining room table and chairs are by Greta Grossman, a Swedish midcentury designer who was based in California.

Above: The Michaels sisters love art and consider it the most important thing in the room. In the sitting room, a black and white abstract painting is paired with a Moroccan Berber rug.

Above: Bookshelves and paneling in the study were painted white to mask the poor quality of the original materials and to add light to the space. The client’s midcentury desk by Milo Boffman fits neatly under the bookshelves.

Above: Black and white framed photographs, paired with a striped runner, lead the eye to the spot of the color at the end of the hall.

Above: The Michaels sisters pulled together pieces from the clients’ collection to create this Milton Avery-led vignette with an Otto Natzler ceramic vase and an Italo Scanga wooden sculpture.

Above: Another Milton Avery painting serves as the inspiration for the color scheme in the bedroom. The curtain wall provides a simple textured headboard. The lampshade on the Josef Frank lamp fits into the color scheme perfectly.

N.B. For more midcentury inspiration, see 154 Midcentury images in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.

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