How a 19th-Century Apartment Got a Sleek, Unfussy Update

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This Washington Square Park apartment is calm and colorful. Photo: Francesco Bertocci

Interior designer Lucy Harris, inspired by her client’s art collection and travels, gave her Henry James–era townhouse apartment a modern, eclectic upgrade.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

“It felt inevitable that I would become an interior designer,” Lucy Harris says. (She grew up in a modernist house built in the 1950s in Concord, Massachussets, while the 1804 Federal house of her great-great-grandparents is now the Nichols House Museum in Boston.) Her Russian-born client, Ksenia Skvortsova, moved to New York with her family at age 11, took international-security graduate courses in London, and in 2009 started the food blog Saffron & Honey. They are not exactly doppelgängers, but there was a shared sensibility from day one. “We even dressed alike,” says Skvortsova of their initial meeting. The foyer, seen here, of Skvortsova’s two-bedroom townhouse apartment near Washington Square Park is painted in Farrow & Ball Hardwick White, with a console from Design Within Reach. The ceramic vases by Cody Hoyt are from Patrick Parrish, and the mirror is from Bower.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

A jazzy blue-and-white kilim rug from StudioTwentySeven graces the living-room floor with a sectional from B&B Italia. The nesting tables are from Design Within Reach and the floor lamp is from Lynn Goode Vintage. Skvortsova had been looking for a loft when she realized that what she really longed for was a gracious, characterful space with high ceilings and great light. After she’d looked at over 100 apartments, it was love at first sight when she entered this one.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

There are two working fireplaces; this one in the living room features a Roy Lichtenstein drawing, along with a ceramic vase from Patrick Parrish, a glass plinth sculpture by John Hogan from Matter, and a vase by Ian McDonald from Totokaelo. “I loved the high ceilings, the crown moldings, and that the apartment had history,” Skvortsova says.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

Harris and her team didn’t do any structural work beyond painting the walls and repairing some of the existing hardwood floor, but she did design the floating shelves in the dining area. She hung an Apparatus Cloud 19 pendant lamp over the table by Hem. Piet Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow is on the wall.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

The sleek kitchen was pretty much left as it was, save for the addition of marble shelving (not shown), a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Gray, and the Roll & Hill Bluff City Pendant.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

The second bedroom doubles as Skvortsova’s office, where Harris added custom floating shelving and a daybed from Design Within Reach, pendant lights from Hem, a Cupertino Desk from BoConcept, and a rug from Mark Nelson Designs. The desk lamp is from West Elm.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

The cozy master bedroom is swathed in Farrow & Ball’s Manor House Gray paint with a custom felted-wool wall hanging from Dolledottie. The side table is from Iacoli & McAllister, and the Jielde bedside reading light is from Horne.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

A mirror from Cassina hangs on the bedroom wall near the fireplace (not seen). The Lady Chair is also from Cassina.

Photo: Francesco Bertocci

“At first I found the bathroom a bit jarring,” Skvortsova says of her reaction to the marble pattern that is almost an optical illusion, “but the contrasting grays are actually quite soothing.”

How a 19th Century Apartment Got a Sleek, Unfussy Update