The end of last year was tough on Erin Beatty. She and her design partner, Max Osterweis, had to shut down Suno, their eight-year-old fashion label, whose fans included Michelle Obama, Sofia Coppola, and Michelle Williams. Seven months pregnant with her second child — and reeling from the presidential election — Beatty was awash in emotions and fears.
Beatty’s eldest son, Laszlo, in the nursery; the crib is by Kalon Studios, the rug is from Anthropologie, the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Violet Pale, and the artwork is by Madeleine Huttenbach.
“It was a very uncertain time,” she recalls. But there were two comforting developments: One, her son Esmond was born in January. Secondly, the West Village apartment she owns with her husband, Lex Sidon, a filmmaker and writer, emerged exactly as she had hoped it would from a five-month renovation overseen by Lara Apponyi and Michael Woodcock, the decorators behind the firm Work + Sea.
While home redos are usually stressful, this one felt almost like a calming respite. Even before she hired the duo, Beatty and the British-born Apponyi were longtime friends, having met in London several years ago. Apponyi and Woodcock connected while working at a New York architectural firm.
The den’s sectional is by Dwell Studio, the custom ottoman is upholstered in a Kvadrat fabric, the stool is by Alvar Aalto, and the shelving system is by Vitsoe; the rug is from Double Knot, and the painting is by Madeleine Huttenbach.
“They are like two sides of a coin, the kind of team that complete each other’s thoughts,” says Beatty of Work + Sea, which recently relocated to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. The 1,400-square-foot, ground-floor duplex needed a radical makeover. It was built in the 1980s, and the interiors felt mired in that decade. But with the Hudson River only a block away and a backyard big enough for celebrations, Beatty and her husband believed the space was worth the investment of money and effort. By moving a few strategic walls and employing an unpredictable mix of pattern, color, and texture, the apartment was transformed into a family home with the same sort of character and charm as Beatty’s chic and funky fashions.
The powder-room sink by Barclay has fittings by Samuel Heath.
“She wanted the apartment to be an extension of her aesthetic without feeling contrived or ‘decorated,’” says Apponyi. Beatty had infused her label, which was made in New York and India, with a riotous palette and whimsical flair inspired by traditional African kangas; she wanted to bring such geometrics and florals into her home. Instead of leaving the original oak flooring intact, for example, there are now inlays of Moroccan tile punctuating the expanse.
In the master bedroom, the bed and side tables are custom designs, the walls are sheathed in a custom grass cloth by Work + Sea, and the sconces are by Jason Koharik.
“That was one of the first things we settled on,” says Beatty, who spent her early years as a designer for Tory Burch. “It sets the tone.” She also envisioned dramatic wallpaper to bring the space alive. Apponyi and Woodcock responded with several custom patterns that play games with scale: The repeats are very large, creating a mural effect. The master bedroom is now fancifully decked out with an impressionistic garden behind the custom headboard; the powder-room walls are covered in a dense jungle that evokes Rousseau. So successful were the patterns that Work + Sea now sells several of them on its website.
The custom furnishings in the dining room include a table and a banquette upholstered in Maharam fabrics; the Thonet chairs are vintage, the barstool is by Gubi, the sconces are by Areti, the wallcovering is Work + Sea’s Watercolor Stripe, and the artworks include pieces by Wardell Milan, John Register, and Jeff Lewis.
The kitchen and dining area are the nerve center of this family home. Seating at the table —10 can fit comfortably — is sofa style, with a custom banquette. The upholstery is an elaborate and lush crewel-style floral, but in a juxtaposition that is representative of the apartment’s overall brio, the seat cushion is covered in a cherry-red vinyl.
Erin Beatty in the duplex’s new stairwell; the kilim runner is from Double Knot and the artwork is by Apponyi.
“I showed my mother a swatch, and she said, ‘Oh my God, how is that going to work?’” says Beatty. “The answer is that it’s perfect.” Perhaps the most dramatic change is the winding staircase that connects the public areas and master suite on the ground floor to the downstairs, which contains an office area, a den, and the children’s room. The stair was originally, in Beatty’s words, “an unspeakably awful wooden thing, with some very bad 1980s decorative elements.”
She wanted a more contemporary model in cast concrete or made entirely of plaster, but that would have been prohibitively expensive. Instead, the designers figured out a way to give the underlying structure a modernist makeover with the help of sculpted drywall and a plaster coating.
In the living room of fashion designer Erin Beatty and filmmaker Lex Sidon’s West Village duplex, which was designed by Lara Apponyi and Michael Woodcock of Work + Sea, the leather sofa is by Michael Felix, the love seat is by Pinch, and the Marcel Breuer chairs are from Knoll; the marble cocktail table is a custom design, the stool by Reinaldo Sanguino is from the Future Perfect, the floor lamp is by Noir, the rug is by Aelfie, and the paintings are by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, left, and Willie Jinks.
As a final touch, a striped kilim runner was cut to fit the newly curving treads. Having a space that reflects her verve yet accommodates her family has made it easier for Beatty to contemplate her next move as a designer. She’s doing a bit of consulting, and she’s planning to launch a new venture that will once again combine her passion for beautiful things with her commitment to international craft, fair wages, and sustainability. “I can breathe now, and living somewhere like this helps,” she says. “I feel I can move forward.”
This story was originally published in the May 2017 issue of ELLE DECOR.