The Insider: Eye-Popping Duplex in Williamsburg

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly look at the creative and wide-ranging ways Brooklynites renovate and decorate their living spaces, written and produced by CaraGreenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING completely different. Interior designer Christopher Coleman, whose office is in DUMBO, rocks vivid color and a playful mix of shapes and materials in his own 1,250-square-foot home in a Williamsburg loft building. He considers his New York base “a laboratory for design.” The use of color and pattern is so emphatic, from a yellow patent leather wall to a sliding red barn door separating the living area from the sole bedroom, not to mention checkerboards, plaids, and stripes — that you almost don’t notice that most of the wall area is actually white.

When Coleman and his partner moved into the nearly new building 3-1/2 years ago, they made a few minor changes: opening up the bedroom wall and substituting the barn door, adding a pantry and storage area in the kitchen, installing black low-pile broadloom carpeting over what Coleman calls the “gymnasium floors.” He likes the carpet for soundproofing, and for the way sensuous shaped furnishings are silhouetted against the black. Coleman is not big on square and rectangular furniture lined up against walls, he says. “It’s much sexier and more appealing to have shaped pieces of furniture floating in a room.”

Half of Coleman’s work is in Miami where, he says, “People are open to color and a little more daring. They want something fun and adventurous.” Coleman is clearly the man to deliver. “It bores me to tears when you open a magazine and everything’s from Holly Hunt,” he says. “Anyone can do that.”

See more of Coleman’s apartment after the jump.

Photos: Dana Meilijson, except as noted

Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch/ NY Social Diary

Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch / NY Social Diary

Sixteen-foot ceilings and glass doors leading to a balcony expand the sense of space. The kitchen wall is emphasized with a vinyl patterned wallcovering of Coleman’s own design, inspired by 1950s Latin American art. “It’s intended to add interest and draw the eye,” he says. The mid-century chandelier is from Treadway Auctions in Chicago.

 

In the living area, two 1950s  wing chairs from the now-closed shop Prague Kolektiv are covered in bold black-and-white, one with a blanket Coleman bought in Dubai, the other with a dhurrie rug he found in France. Their backs are upholstered in electric blue velvet. The curved sofa is Coleman’s own design; the coffee table came from Nevin and Nevin in Hudson, NY. The black carpet is from ABC Carpet & Home.

 

A bookcase in the living area was added on the outer wall of a newly constructed pantry in the kitchen. The kitchen chairs are Gio Ponti repros, from Property in SoHo.

 

Multi-colored checkerboards are a favorite motif throughout the apartment. The spiral stair leads to an upstairs office which doubles as a guest room. 

 

Coleman borrowed two feet from the bedroom for a wall-to-wall closet. The wall behind the bed is upholstered in a large plaid fabric from Liberty of London. The bedside tables are from CB2; Coleman sent them to an auto body shop to be lacquered.

 

A long wall-to-wall counter serves as desks for Coleman and his partner in the open upstairs space. The blue vinyl chair with nail heads and acrylic legs is from Andrew Martin. There’s also a TV and fold-down sofa. 

 

The apartment’s sole bathroom is on the lower level. 

 

Missed any installments of The Insider? You can find the whole archive by clicking here. And don’t forget The Outsider, Brownstoner’s weekly garden column, Sundays at 8AM.

27 Comment

  • Where do you go when you have a hangover and can’t deal with all the color????

    Seriously, very nice, especially the muted tones of the bathroom!!!

  • Where do you go when you have a hangover and can’t deal with all the color????

    Seriously, very nice, especially the muted tones of the bathroom!!!

  • I love the patterns and the Mondrianishness of it all but some of the solid colors make it look like a kid’s room. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • I love the patterns and the Mondrianishness of it all but some of the solid colors make it look like a kid’s room. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Not my style. Reminds me of a daycare center

  • I think it’s often hard to introduce lots of color, especially primary colors, in interior design without it looking like an 80′s throwback. And I’m not sure this place avoided that pitfall. Part of me likes it, but part of me is cringing. I do love the bathroom, office space and the kitchen wall covering though.

  • If you like color, and use colors you like, in combinations and amounts you like, you don’t get tired of it. I like color, and don’t like rooms of neutrals at all. We are all different personality types…some of this preference is hardwired, I think. While this wouldn’t be exactly my color scheme, I like certain parts of it a whole lot (the kitchen wall, the kitchen chairs). I use lots more color than most people I know, and I’m sure those who live here love their choices and don’t tire of it.

  • I find this very unattractive. The bathroom is nice but the bedroom and living room are definitely not my style. And I love color.

  • I’m definitely a modernist, and I too love color. Hell, there are pops of red, yellow and orange in my living room. Granted I don’t think I pulled it off all that well either (!). Most people who don’t like modern styling tend to say that it is often bland and colorless. When the opposite extreme is taken, it’s also kinda hard to take. Is there a middle ground out there somewhere?

  • not terrible but not liking it. it comes across as niche acquired taste

  • As someone with an ocular migraine condition, that is adversely effected by looking at intense patterns for any length of time, this house would literally take years off my life. I find it incredibly unrestful to look at the pictures. Can’t imagine what it would be like to live there. I am not against color but this combo of color and pattern is way too much for me. I would spend all my time in the grey coolness of the bathroom. Nice design though.

  • Wasder – I was just about to type the same thing – thats amazing. Hello fellow sufferer.

  • Yep, I can’t even look at it on the screen without feeling an aura

  • “Half of Coleman’s work is in Miami where, he says, “People are open to color and a little more daring.”

    Miami….that explains it.

  • Nice, although I’m not big on the 80′s Memphis look of some of the furnishings. I think 60′s modern was a lot sexier.

  • I don’t usually chime in on these, but I found it interesting that despite all the color everywhere, 95% of the walls are painted white which I always find kind of boring. IMHO, every single room reads the same except the bathroom which looks dull in comparison (and it’s a nice bathroom).
    I think the Barbara Benedek quote is apt here, “More isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more.”

  • That blue vinyl chair could double as a torture chamber!

  • That carpet is killing me.

  • Love it. Just this side of tasteful. One step more and it would’ve been over the top. Most of the designers on here use the same color pallette and furniture. This is fun and different.

    My least favorite part (since we can’t avoid judging and since he slights Holly Hunt) is the bathroom. That looks like something anyone could do.

  • It’s like an IKEA catalog exploded in that apartment…

  • “One step more and it would’ve been over the top.”

    One step more??? Like what, racing stripes and a spoiler kit?

  • I like it, although I think I would have thrown in more metallics. However, I am not a decorator, and I suspect metallics are probably passe.

    I know I am often sarcastic, but no, not kidding. I like it. I like anything that looks like it reflects actual taste and not a neutral palette designed for resale.

  • I like it, although I think I would have thrown in more metallics. However, I am not a decorator, and I suspect metallics are probably passe.

    I know I am often sarcastic, but no, not kidding. I like it. I like anything that looks like it reflects actual taste and not a neutral palette designed for resale.

  • Reminds me more of the Dutch de Stijl movement than the ’70s or Memphis. Since no one has mentioned it, I think the chair coverings are fantastic

  • This looks like the set of Romper Room. No seriously, it looks like a child’s play room, that children would love to be in.

    I too like color as much as the next person, but to me, the primary colors of red, green, blue, yellow, orange do not work together. They do not match at all.

    Maybe different tones of “greens with yellows and oranges”, or shades of “blues and greens, with yellows”, or “shades of reds, pinks, purples” ya’ll get my drift….

    but not stark red, yellow, orange, green, blue…yuck !!

    those colors remind me of a swing that my grandmother had hanging in between the kitchen and Living room in her apartment on 5th ave and 58th street, a regular RR, anyway, the swing was cream cloth with “primary colored beads” across the swing, she would spin me around and around and around, I would see those colors and get sick to my stomach and dizzy, that is my primary color horrid flashback…..and this is a true story.

    so living in this apartment would give me constant nausea, plus it looks like a really bad LSD trip from the 60′s