published about 1 hour ago
If you’ve ever had two very different ideas of how to decorate your home, but you had to settle on just one, then you’ll be jealous of Andrew Stewart.
As the founder and chief creative stylist of Red Cap Productions Inc., a home staging company based in New York City, he was tasked with furnishing two identical apartments in The Plaza Condominium & Residences in Manhattan.
The building’s enviable location, right on the southern edge of Central Park, meant that the interiors of the two one-bedroom, one-bath units — #1508 and #608 — needed equally impressive designs.
Luckily, the 782-square-foot condos had been excellently cared for, Stewart says. They simply needed a fresh coat of paint, some new light fixtures, and a deep cleaning.
“The real problem was creating a livable space in a rather narrow floor plan,” he says. “So how was I to make the living rooms grand, functional, and not skimp on opportunities to expand their use with additional points of interest like an office or library? I wanted people to be able to breeze through the formal living areas and make them feel full, but not cumbersome.”
Since each apartment already had its own unique finishes and personalities, Stewart used those details to inform the design.
“For example, #608 is very sleek, with black marble and polished hardware,” he says. “On the other hand, #1508 is more industrial with lots of oiled bronze.”
For #608, Stewart wanted a sizable sofa that potential renters or buyers could picture themselves lounging on. He set a generously-sized one along the interior wall, showcasing ample seating despite the unit’s small footprint.
“That’s one of the basic premises of staging: Give guests the tools to see themselves in the space,” he says.
Because he wanted the living room to feel modern and chic, he chose a cream color to keep the overall look light and airy. Red and gold pillows on the sofa — in addition to other jewel-toned accents throughout the space — “heighten the drama,” he says.
Since he had chosen a “mirror” theme for the living room and the bedroom, a mirrored coffee table was a no-brainer. “That reflected the moldings and silver accents to accentuate those appealing details,” he says.
He grounded the seating area with a tan sisal rug from Ralph Lauren — a piece that has become his calling card, he says. “I’ve been using them continually for many years. I needed it to brighten the space, pull in the bedroom floors, and hint at noticing the floor details.”
Above the sofa, he hung a brightly-colored print of Picasso’s “Guernica” to coordinate with the other pops of color. “This unit was presented more as a pied-a-terre, where the art was meant to be enjoyed, but it also had the notion of a gallery space,” he says.
Meanwhile, in #1508, Stewart positioned the sofa in the same spot, but he chose a medium-gray shade to create “more of a uniform color palette, but the same luxury details,” he says. “It was really fun creating a totally different look here.”
Seeking to play up the metalwork in the nearby kitchen island, he chose a black metal coffee table with clean lines and shelves for storage, placing it on top of a similar sisal rug from Ralph Lauren.
In contrast to the vibrant wall art in the other unit, Stewart wanted something a bit more soothing, choosing an abstract piece in pale hues.
As for the opposite wall, in #608, Stewart didn’t want to draw too much attention to it, so he hung an ornate mirror reminiscent of The Plaza’s logo. “It nods to the crystal chandeliers in the hallways and seems seamless with the other decor,” he says. “I went with mirrored furniture throughout so there wasn’t anything that seemed out of place.”
In #1508, there was already a built-in media unit with a television on the wall opposite the sofa. Since he typically doesn’t like including TVs in his staging — but had to leave this one in place — Stewart arranged pillows on the cabinet below to distract the eye and add softness.
Finally, the short third wall opposite the kitchen offered the opportunity to serve different functions. In #608, Stewart created a reading area, staging it with a cream-colored chair by the window and a floating shelf with books and accessories. The black shelf and graphic black-and-white art piece on the wall “stay in sync with the formality of the room,” he says.
Up in #1508, he used the same wall as a small office space complete with a gray chair, a white desk, and a pastel-hued piece of artwork. The finishing touches — a propped-up violin and sheets of music (specifically, Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”) — nod to The Plaza’s enviable locale in the unparalleled cultural capital that is New York.