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DECORATING WITH PASSION Only decorator Miles Redd could dream up the colors and pattern combinations in this Manhattan apartment. And it’s exactly the look this growing family refused to lose when they had to move. INTERVIEW: Blake Brunson | PHOTOGRAPHY: Roland Bello | PRODUCER:  Doretta Sperduto
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In the living room, the juxtaposition of a self-portrait by artist Chuck Close against a flowery chinoiserie wallpaper, Iksel’s Eastern Eden, immediately signals that this is not formula decorating. The jewel tones of the Holland & Sherry velvet on the custom sofa by Luther Quintana, the Sequana fabric on vintage French bergères from Duane, and the leather on Ikea’s Bernhard chair give the room character.  Lamps, Gracious Home. Carpet, Patterson Flynn Martin.

BLAKE BRUNSON: So, Miles, I've worked with you for more than four years now, and I know you're definitely not afraid of color. But even for you, this place is boldly colorful.

MILES REED: There's a strong sense of color, yes, and I do like vivid colors. But I never want you to feel like you are in something that is garish or unappealing because the colors are overwhelming. What I see are rooms that excite me, that make me happy.

It is a happy space! In every room I see cobalt, violet, yellow, red—yet there's serenity to it.

That is always the great goal, to use strong color but not to be overpowering. People always say I am fearless with color, but if I see it in nature, I know it will work in a home. Every color combination there is, nature has done it before me. Truthfully, color makes me happy. And that was the direction with this apartment—to make a happy family home. The clients really pushed us for a more compelling interior.

This was your second project for these clients.

Yes, these were clients for whom I had originally decorated an apartment a few years ago. Their kids grew older, and they decided they needed more space.

But we had just decorated an apartment for them that were full of beautiful pieces.

I've said this before, and I’ll say it again: If you buy great stuff, it lasts. 'Buy the best; you only cry once’ is the oft-quoted line. When they moved, we didn’t need to reupholster or really do anything to their furniture. But we wanted to give them a totally different feeling. My goal was to use their existing furniture but make it feel completely new and exciting to them.

Thus the vibrant wallpapers. What I love about wallpaper is that it instantly gives a feeling, whereas a painted room requires many layers. Wallpaper immediately provides a sense of fantasy. The couple who live here love the sensation of always being on vacation, so they wanted their apartment in New York to feel that way. And wallpaper can do that for you.

In the living room, we placed an Ikea chair, French bergères, scenic chinoiserie wallpaper, a Chuck Close self-portrait—how does one reconcile this mix? Why isn’t my eye going crazy?
 

Designer Miles Redd and project manager Blake Brunson in the living room in front of a lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly.

I'm taking a nod from so many people and inspirations. The Ikea chair is sort of a wink at David Hicks, who loved a modern, quirky piece mixed into a Baroque interior. The reason why the disparate elements work together, I think, is because it’s a consistent eye that has been selecting and editing things. The upholstery and the walls feel 19th-century. The art and the lamps are definitely 21st-century. I love the combination of the Chuck Close piece, which is a modern portrait, on these very old-fashioned walls—the push and pull of the hard masculinity of the photograph set against the pale, feminine, delicate nature of the wallpaper. That tension is what’s exciting in design for me today.

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