âI HAVE LIVED HERE for a year but had never seen my apartment in the light of day until the Covid-19 pandemic,â says Colin King, a 33-year-old interior designer based in Brooklyn Heights . Before stay-at-home orders took effect in New York City in March 2020, he spent his days running for meetings with clients, or en route to London, Copenhagen, Madrid or Marrakech to produce design stories. and advertisements for brands such as Danish furniture company Hay and American paint company Benjamin Moore. But it wasn’t until he was secluded in his 500-square-foot second floor in front of an 1830s brownstone that King finally had time to think about what he wanted to do with his own space.
Its owners, who are active in the historic preservation of the neighborhood, had avoided the kind of soulless renovations that offer tenants modern conveniences at the expense of interesting period features. intermediate uprights, a working marble fireplace, oak floors and generous moldings and frames under the 12-foot ceilings, their edges softened by nearly two centuries of painting. Although you enter the one-bedroom apartment through a 1980s American kitchen next to an indescribable bathroom with pink and black tiles, your eye is immediately drawn to the classically proportioned living room, flooded with light. of a pair of nine-foot-high shuttered windows that overlook the tree-lined street.
In his professional projects, King seeks to infuse elegance into the most mundane spaces. But her Instagram is the purest expression of her style – a series of poetic still lifes, rendered in a palette of off-white, dark gray, and brown: a cluster of ceramics under a solitary arched branch (King sometimes finds them on city sidewalks after a storm) or a discreet detail of one of his works – a forgotten corner behind a bedroom door, commonplace to others but made somehow elegiac through his eyes.
When he started remodeling his house, there was basically just one sofa (the classic inflated but pointy Le Bambole by Italian designer Mario Bellini, released in the early 1970s), a place to eat (a round table in round creamy travertine marble, also from the 1970s) and a comfortable chair (a LC4 chaise longue from the 1960s by Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in dented black leather). The white walls everywhere appeared too yellow in the living room and too dull everywhere else. Unless he was sitting at his dining table, he had to put his coffee on the floor, next to his low mattress or his sofa. His collections of design and contemporary art books were either stacked against the wall or piled on the floor, and the kind of things he was paid to find for others – ceramic vases, houseplants, lamps. of table, objects and mirrors – were essentially absent.
After repainting – it took three tries to get the bedroom to have the perfect shade of dark gray, and the rest of the apartment is now an off-white that’s neither too hot nor too cold – King began to fill its space. From Cassina he ordered a white block Utrecht armchair created in the 1930s by Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld; a velvet and walnut stool from the Green River Project by Ben Bloomstein and Aaron Aujla in the East Village; a custom table lamp by New York ceramicist Danny Kaplan; and a few vintage woven rattan chairs from mid-century Pierre Jeanneret, which King borrowed from his friend Chelsea gallery owner Dobrinka Salzman. In the living room, he placed a modernist vase thrown by hand by early 20th-century British potter Lucie Rie next to an old mirror on the mantel. Unlike his styling concerts, which often involve rushed deadlines, populating his apartment was a slower, more deliberate endeavor: âI had time to listen to the space,â he says. The result is austere but layered, weaving disparate threads of 1970s Italian design, early American architecture and French modernism with a subtlety that few young designers, who tend to experiment with wanton eclecticism, manage to achieve. .
KING’S APARTMENT enshrines the minimalist aesthetic that it has been refining for years, but not without a few detours. He and his twin brother grew up on a farm in rural Ohio where idleness was discouraged; there were always chores to do, and since they lived an hour from school, they rarely saw friends. As a teenager, King remembers being “really embarrassed” by his voice, he says, “like I go out every time I open my mouth.” But at 13 he discovered dance, and at 18 he moved to New York to pursue his studies in jazz and ballet, although he quickly found the reality of making a performer overwhelming; on a whim, at 22, he moved to Los Angeles, where he faced the same frustrations: at some point, you have to understand. So he started working as a fitness instructor, followed by a brief stint as a property manager, until he found a job as a digital content producer at Consort, a design company with a boutique on Melrose Avenue. There he was tasked with removing merchandise from shelves, styling and photographing a sticker, and promoting it on social media. Finally, he had found something that excited him as much as dancing.
In 2017, he returned to New York. Like many of his peers, he found himself juggling several gigs to stay afloat: in the mornings, he was a personal trainer; in the afternoon, he managed the social media accounts of the One Kings Lane house brand; in the evening, he scouted and offered stories to magazines in order to establish himself as a stylist. Within months, however, King was complete, allowing him to focus on a job for the first time in his life.
But if he is installed, his apartment is still evolving. He is currently on the hunt for a large oil painting to hang above his bed, a vintage Joe D’Urso side table for his living room, and a black olive tree, which will be his first. plant. While so many beautiful homes are the result of elaborate renovations and expensive furniture, hers is a testament to the power of a lighter touch: one that reveals the innate beauty of a space – and the patience it takes to see it.