Name: Michelle Lin Greenip
Location: West Village, New York
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; Rented
Out the window, there's a tumble of rooftops and a church steeple or two. Inside, a palette plucked from Ladurée, lavender fields, Hermés boxes and champagne labels, with a bit of gilding for good measure. While it’s one part atelier, including an artist’s garret of sorts, it’s the West Village, not the Left Bank. Life is good, and life is trés chic, in the fashionable home of interior designer Michelle Lin Greenip.
While interior designer Michelle deserves full credit for the apartment’s stylish details, it was a joint effort, in a way, in a home adapted from her husband Jeffrey’s single days. “Initially, this is the apartment my husband had lived in for a couple of years before I moved in, before we got engaged.”
“When we decided to move in together, he told me he actually was pretty open to me getting rid of things that he had, because it really was a bachelor pad,” Michelle says. “He had good taste, but I wanted the space to really be reflective of the both of us together, and our life together.”
How did this once-bachelor pad turn into such a chic and cheery outpost of style? Michelle made a few changes when she moved in: reworking key pieces (like his dining room table-turned her work desk), celebrating some of her husband’s art, and repurposing one of the home’s most unique architectural features, the upstairs loft, intended as guest room or media crash pad. But height cut that continued plan short. “He never really used the space, because the beams are pretty low in certain areas, so he would hit his head all the time!” says the more diminutive half of the pair. “I’m short enough where it’s really not a problem for me! So when I moved in, I thought, ‘this is perfect, he never uses the space, I can use it as my dressing room!’’” It also quickly became Michelle’s home base for her interior design practice.
To make that loft space work for its new life, Michelle had the shelving custom made, to house samples and design books, leaving closets free for clothing. An Aero bed and a daybed (”When not covered with sweaters!” Michelle jokes, although it’s hard to picture this buttoned-up designer as anything but) encourage longer visits and short naps, although it’s working office more often than not.
The office loft overlooks the double-height living room, one wall dominated by a salon-style installation anchored by yet another remnant of her husband’s past. Pre-Michelle, that central and sunny landscape, an oil-on-wood panel picked up in Santa Barbara had leaned casually in his bedroom. Now it anchors that wall, and the room’s palette seems to radiate from it. “I really, really love the color, and it’s such a cheery, bright piece of work,” Michelle notes, “and I love the size of it as well.”
Shared loves run through the rest of the apartment. And as the apartment quickly reveals, one of them is Paris. “I’m obsessed with Paris,” Michelle sighs. “...the architecture, the food, and the wine... you get really swept away by it.”
“I had been to Paris when I was in college, but hadn’t been since then.” That was remedied by a few trips with her then-fiancé/now husband, who realized there was no better place to pop the champagne and the question to his Paris-loving companion than the City of Lights. “We got engaged at the end of this weekend that we spent there. It really was magic for me. So when we came back, I wanted to keep that magic.”
Michelle’s love for the city and that milestone moment inspired a reworking of the space into a romantic retreat with a definite French accent that stops tastefully short of full-on Follies, due in part to the personal nature of the choices and souvenirs.
In the lavender-tinted bedroom hangs an illustrated map of Paris made specially to commemorate that proposal weekend. It’s one of the literal references to Michelle’s amour, but she also brought back other interpretations of Parisian style. “For me, it’s a lot about the classical styles, the neoclassical, the Louis XVI shape in furniture.” She goes on, “Bringing in the gold accents, like in the frames, the gold in the lamps, the gold in the side tables, the drapery hardware... that reminds me of all the gilding you see.”
Even the drapery tie-backs have Parisian roots, in theme and origin. “If you look to the grand, palatial hotels in Paris, they would have the traditional tie-backs with the tassels... for me, though, we live in the West Village. I wanted to have tie-backs on these curtains, but I didn’t want to have anything fussy. I went to Houlés and I was excited to find they had this new collection of tie-backs which were really modern in some ways, yet spoke to that old world glamor.” She looks around the apartment, taking stock, while no doubt also retracing steps on cobbled Paris streets. “These things are my interpretation.”
Her willingness to experiment, to take risk, to refashion, is all credit to her design talents, but it also brings its own French flair for mixing, not matching, to the space, and a certain insouciant flouting of design rules. A pair of seemingly oversized lamps found at Treillage, Bunny Williams’ upper east treasure trove, flank the sofa like super models in couture millinery. “I had had my eye on them for a while,” Michelle recalls about her purchase, a bit of a splurge due to their pedigree. But when the switches on past lamps both stopped working (although Michelle admits no foul play), she took the plunge. They were wrangled into a taxi directly to Illumé, where she had the new barrel shades custom made. (Michelle is quick to share this great tip: when shopping for shades prêt-a-porter or couture... bring the lamps!) While they command the side tables, they’re not out of place, scale-wise. “The room can totally take that size lamp.”
They weren’t the only finds that started with a great shape that then got amped up with designer detail. Muslin-covered wood-framed chairs got a new lease on life with a shell-pink Missoni-like silk flamestitch from Old World Weavers. “Being able to put a fun, more contemporary fabric on a Bergére like that,” says Michelle, “was really fun for me to do.”
The new upholstery added a luxe feel to the already stylish chairs. “When you sit in them, you really feel like you are enveloped.” But the soigné upgrade was not without trade-off. “You can not put your feet on them anymore!” laughs Michelle, a phrase she’s perhaps already practiced at home.
The Bergéres are not the only place where pink plays a part. “I’m a girl who’s always been a pink girl. You give me any pink in any shade, and I’ll take it... fuchsia, any shade.”
But even with silks, pinks, tassels, and swags, it’s not a girly apartment, in part due to gutsy scale, those cleaned-up and modernized takes on Paris classics, and a statement-making wine wall.
That wine wall serves as an anchor, its gunmetal gray and black iron keeping the feminine/masculine balance in check. “Because it was stand-alone really, I could paint it in that gray,” says Michelle, of a color that gives the otherwise pastel scheme some real weight. The dark bottles and light labels also add crisp graphic clarity, and help give the open-plan kitchen a wine bar vibe.
But while the wine was pressed into service for some design reasons, these bottles are not for show. These Francophiles are also serious oenophiles. “We love wine,” says Michelle. Elsewhere, photos of Burgundy vineyards and Napa wine storerooms are more evidence of that love, a towering wine fridge yet another. That serious commitment to wine collecting was the unexpected windfall of her husband’s weekend online wine-buying spree, and Michelle’s initial fears (“Oh my gosh, where are you going to put that? It’s so big!”) were quelled by the scale of the room itself. The double-height room knocks it down a peg or two, and that gallery wall steals even more of its potential thunder.
Back upstairs in Michelle’s loft office, a pinboard covered in fashion sketches, runway show invites, and magazine clippings seems like it could be found in a Paris fashion house, not the office of a New York interior designer. But that’s revealing of yet another of Michelle’s passions. “I follow (fashion) pretty religiously, she explains, “and I like to collect clothing,” another reason she was more than delighted to annex the loft and its extra closet space.
Like her love of Paris, there’s some personal history for her love of fashion: a brief college internship at Elle magazine, a past fashion marketing gig, and being part of the Couture Council at FIT. “I don’t have as much of fashion history as I wished I did!” says Michelle, although the list is more than many can claim. Michelle’s love of fashion informs dressmaker detail and textile love throughout, and the connection between the two design disciplines seems clear to Michelle. “For me, they really are interwoven in many ways. I can be very much inspired by something that I see on the runway.” Hence, that mood board, her Tumblr and Pinterest pages, and her fashion-y blog, or et rose.
Fashion also seems to tie things back up neatly, in this home of wining and designing. “When it comes to design, I appreciate craftsmanship, and in fashion, that world, the couture world, having people be so skilled and trained in doing all the details... you also see that when it comes to interior design. And that’s part of me being a Francophile: their history with craftsmanship... and the whole history of design.”
Is the home of the fashionable Michelle always this, well, well-styled? “I try to be, and it’s definitely...” she makes a valiant attempt, then fesses up, with a laugh... “um, no! Especially my office, the loft space. I had to do some cleaning up before you came over!”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic with a dose of old world glamour
Inspiration: Paris — where we got engaged. Our weekend in The City of Light was such a magical time that I wanted to bring bits of it home with me. I was swept away by the architecture and the classic French style. I tried to incorporate some of the design elements in a way that fit our lifestyle and budget — by picking traditional forms in vintage pieces and reproductions, adding little touches like gold accents throughout the apartment (loved all the gilding!) and bringing home the candles and fragrances that scented our favorite hotels there.
Favorite Element: I really wanted the space to reflect us as a couple, so most of the furniture and art have a personal story. My favorite is the illustrated map of Paris in our bedroom that I commissioned with illustrator Felix Doolittle as a wedding gift for my husband. I loved the process of deciding the images that would depict all the places we visited and things we did over our engagement weekend.
Biggest Challenge: Storing our wine collection — my husband and I are both wine lovers and collectors; my collection I call “The Underdogs” and his “The Top Dogs.” We had to find a way to accommodate all the bottles in our small apartment. Adding the wine installation utilized what would normally be an unused wall in our kitchen area. The wine wall was supposed to showcase my “Underdogs” but currently many “Top Dogs” have taken over! I don’t love that there is a wine fridge in our living room but you have to work with what you have when you’re renting. We needed extra shelving so I found a tall oak and iron bookcase (with lion paw feet!) which was masculine enough to balance out the large presence of the fridge.
What Friends Say: “It’s such a gorgeous and happy place!” “It feels like France!” When they hear the stories behind some of the art and pieces they say “I love that idea! It’s so thoughtful!”
Biggest Embarrassment: My husband’s bike in the loft — we have nowhere else to store it but we keep it because he swears he’s going to do another triathlon someday.
Proudest DIY: Turning this bachelor pad into a home — My husband had lived here several years before we got married and it definitely took a bit of effort to turn the place around.
Biggest Indulgence: The custom tablecloth in Fortuny fabric — I asked for this for Christmas!
Best Advice: Invest in pieces that are meaningful to you — those are the things that will never go out of style and the things you will take with you wherever you go. That’s why I have so much of my mother’s artwork around!
Dream Sources: Paris flea markets, de Gournay, Hermès Home, D. Porthault
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Entry, Living Room, Kitchen & Loft - Farrow & Ball, Skylight #205
- Bedroom - Benjamin Moore, Gray Owl, #2137-60
- Wine Wall - Farrow & Ball, Downpipe, #26
- Upstairs Bath - Farrow & Ball, Calluna. #270
- Mirror - Shabby Chic
- Bench - Mecox Gardens
- Rug - Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
- Carpet - Stark Carpet
- Coffee Table - Shabby Chic
- Chairs - Lars Bolander bergères, custom upholstered in Old World Weavers silk
- Lamps - Bunny Williams lamps with Illumé shades
- Pastels: "West Village" and "The Rose House" by my mother Jenny M. Lin
- Oil paintings were purchased on trips to Vietnam, Provence and California.
- Pillows - Restoration Hardware & Ankasa
- Painting - Pastel, Jenny M. Lin
- Dining Table - Ballard Designs
- Tablecloth - Custom with Fortuny fabric
- Wallpaper - Blazing Poppies Wallpaper, Anthropologie
- Headboard - Custom design, Michelle Lin Greenip, in Holland & Sherry linen
- Chests - Chelsea Textiles
- Curtains - in Mulberry Home fabric
- Nantucket House Pastel - a birthday gift painted for me by my mother, Jenny Lin, from a photo I took
- Oil Painting by Alfred Persia, purchased in Avignon, France
- Paris L’Engagement illustration - commissioned work by Felix Doolittle
- Set of 6 horse themed illustrations - Pulled from a book by Hermès Paris, Encore des Chevaux illustrated by Sophie de Seynes
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