Debbie Upgrades to Mid-Century

Debbie Upgrades to Mid-Century

Jill Slater
May 26, 2010
Name: Debbie Millman Location: Chelsea Size: 1,600 square feet — 2 bedroom with backyard Years lived in: 16 For over a dozen years, Debbie lived in a home full of floral upholstered, overstuffed furniture. In her own words, it was more "grandma kitsch," than anything else. When her friend Susan visited from out of town, Debbie asked if she'd like to help her pick out some new furniture for the living room. Debbie was in the mood for a change but wasn't sure how to go about it. As Debbie recalls, Susan replied, "Well, if we are going to get new furniture, maybe we should get new floors, and if we get new floors maybe we should get...an entire new everything!" When Debbie asked what she should do with all her old furniture, Susan replied, "Curbside!" After the initial shock at how little Susan cared for Debbie's belongings, Debbie was able to move on and go shopping with Susan to acquire a whole new look. The only thing Debbie insisted upon, and the one thing Susan was dead set against, was the brown Eames lounge in the living room. Debbie thought of this chair as the ultimate status acquisition, paving the way for her new mid-century decor. Susan saw it as a cliche and overkill. Debbie didn't understand this latter perspective until it was too late. Nowadays, it's relegated to a side room but is the cat's favorite spot in the house. A very accomplished graphic designer, Debbie has always collected great art — some homemade, some from friends, and still others sought after and bought. The arrangement and breadth of these provocative and beautiful pieces makes her mid-century upgrade feel balanced and a natural progression for her home. Apartment Therapy Survey Style: What I like to call modern-sexy Inspiration: Old-school 1950s glamorama Favorite Element: I have three: the centerpiece of the living room — Aura — is a 6 foot high, 2-tiered Murano glass chandelier from Eurofase which took 9 hours, a rented scaffold and three electricians to install; the floor to ceiling white iridescent Ann Sacks bisazza tiles in the upstairs bathroom; and the rebuilt, reupholstered, vintage, circular three piece sofa upholstered by CJ Delatore using Plush Chenille fabric from Schumacher. Biggest Challenge: The décor of my apartment before the reno: painted black slate flooring, 4 foot brown shutters, (which, when closed, didn’t let any light in), an ugly door leading to a non-code fire escape smack in the middle of the main living room wall, a Jennifer Convertible sofa my movers had to break to get through the front door in 1994, and a ponderosa-style wooden banister covered in “crackle” paint. What Friends Say: "Can I live here with you?" Biggest Embarrassment: My “before” pictures, and the fact that I seriously considered paying to store all my old furniture. Proudest DIY: My two needlepoint pillows that took me one year each to make. Biggest Indulgence: Dreamy, totally glamorous custom designed Silk Trading Company drapes in the bedroom. Best Advice: Buy the best you can afford so that you can buy it once and keep it forever. Dream Source: Susan Benjamin, my childhood best friend, my inspiration and lifetime decorator. Resources:
    • Living Room/Dining Room: Celador 24x24 beige terrazzo-like tiles dappled with flecks of seashells from Stone Source Rebuilt, reupholstered, vintage, circular three piece sofa upholstered by CJ Delatore using Plush Chenille fabric from Schumacher Spectrum area rug designed by Christopher Sharp, from the Rug Company. Small coffee table from ABC Carpet and Home Gilded standing ashtray from the 1950’s that I found at the 26th street flea market Custom designed Eames lounge in cherry wood with “Sahara Sand” leather from the David Allen Gallery Vintage Florence Knoll credenza Aura glass chandelier from Eurofase Pottery Barn Dining Table Vintage Walter Cherner Chairs Miranda Thomas Simon Pearce Pottery Eames Side Tables Bookshelves in library area custom-made • The Upstairs Bathroom: Floor to ceiling white iridescent Ann Sacks bisazza tiles Mediterranean Crema 12x12 limestone floor tiles Duravit Happy D toilet bowl and sink Dornbracht sink faucet and exposed tub/shower system with the sunflower showerhead • Master Bedroom: Schiffmann King Size Bed Custom designed Silk Trading Company drapes Wide knot sisal carpet from ABC Carpet & Home All furniture besides the bed are Flea Market finds Restoration Hardware Lamps • Second Bedroom: Bo Concept Book Shelves Vintage Desk from ABC Carpet & Home outlet factory Cristal Cab Hardware throughout house from Simon Hardware
For more details on the kitchen and dining room, check out Debbie's Subversive Traditional Comfort.
Images: Jill Slater • HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE Check out past house tours here • Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form. • Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.
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