How One Globe-Trotting Retail Guru Creates a Cool and Collected Home

Patricia Greene Isen brings years of treasures from travel into her century-old Upper East Side home.

patricia isen manhattan home tour
Simon Upton

Many people reluctantly bring their work home with them, spiritually or otherwise, despite prevailing wisdom that they should leave it at the office. But when Patricia Greene Isen enthuses about the ways in which her professional life pervades the Manhattan apartment she shares with her husband, Robert, it’s with good reason: For 16 years, she was the globe-trotting director of special projects in the home division at Anthropologie.

These days, she helps her sister-in-law Tory Burch with her home collection. As such, the geode sconces and crystal chandelier in her dining room are by Robert Ogden, a good friend who designed lighting for Anthropologie. The African shield in the corner of the living room was picked up on a work trip to the south of France. A custom console in the foyer is by Julian Mayor, an artist she discovered while at Anthropologie. And the china on the kitchen table and the blanket on the master bed are by Tory Burch (for whom Robert is the chief legal officer and president of corporate development). “Everything in this apartment is a journey from our travels and my work life,” explains Isen, who also worked at Bloomingdale’s and Calvin Klein earlier in her career. “I was lucky to be exposed to all of these things constantly.”

dining room with green walls, round table, and covered chairsa
The dining room’s custom chairs have slipcovers in a Jasper floral, the custom tablecloth is of a Lisa Fine Textiles print, and the chandelier and sconces are by Robert Ogden; a Jackie Nickerson photograph and a set of 17th-century paintings by Pieter Casteels hang on walls sheathed in a Christopher Hyland mohair, with wain­scoting painted in Benjamin Moore’s Shady Lane.
Simon Upton

There is yet another way in which work intervened—happily—in the creation of Isen’s abode. In 2015, when she and her husband were empty nesters, they decided to move from Philadelphia, where they had raised their now-adult sons, Thomas and Charles, to New York. She enlisted the help of her mother, Betsy S. Green, a top broker at Douglas Elliman for 35 years. Green found them a three-bedroom apartment in a century-old building on the Upper East Side that had been owned by William Salomon, a partner at Salomon Brothers who died in 2014 at age 100. “My mother said, ‘If this apartment speaks to you, buy it. And if it doesn’t speak to you, buy it,’” recalls Isen with a laugh.

The apartment had the old-world, Parisian-style charm that the couple sought, so they bought it. While overhauling the black 1950s linoleum kitchen—now tiled in handmade glazed white terra-cotta—and the bathrooms, Isen (who currently also works with her mother as a real estate broker) collaborated with a friend, the architect and designer Daniel Romualdez, on realizing her vision of a comfortable, textured home.

A sheep-wool rug picked up on an antiques trip to Antwerp grounds the living room and is paired with vintage cornstalk sconces and a Walton Ford painting. The original moldings in the library are lacquered in a high-gloss aubergine, which offsets artworks by Rose Wylie and David Benjamin Sherry. For the dining room, Isen wanted what she calls “an ugly green.” The walls are covered in a moss-colored mohair, with wainscoting to match.

tiled bathroom in blues and browns
A guest bath has a sink and fittings by Waterworks, a mirror by RH, Restoration Hardware, and walls clad in tiles by Mosaic House.
Simon Upton

“It was all based on emotion,” explains Isen of her intuitive approach, which also compelled her to keep a few objects from the apartment’s former inhabitant. A tortoise cocktail table now serves as a bench in the master bedroom, and two oval embroideries rest on a table in the library. “I always believe you should keep something from the previous owners,” she says. “It feels like the right thing to do.”

Blue, Interior design, Room, Floor, Turquoise, Teal, Aqua, Azure, Tile, Interior design,
Eric Piasecki

Produced By Cynthia Frank

This story originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of ELLE Decor.

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