Cecilia's Simple Beauty

Cecilia's Simple Beauty

Jill Slater
Jul 24, 2013

Name: Cecilia
Location: Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York
Size: 2,200 square feet, 2 bedrooms
Years lived in: 2.5 years; Owned

"A living space is a flexible space," says Cecilia. She's a thoughtful and sensitive person who integrates an artistic approach and outlook into her design. She relishes the symbolism of space, which enhances the experience of being in her home. 

Cecilia is Swedish and her husband is French. They've lived in many parts of the world but are new to the United States. When looking for properties in New York, they fell in love with this apartment because of its great views of the city. 

When they bought the apartment, the rooms were divided, with differing ceiling heights, varied floor coverings and odd choices of materials. Cecilia focused almost exclusively on the apartment's access to light and arranged rooms, floors, walls, and furniture around that fact. 

Cecilia's taste leans toward the minimal, with the occasional traditional Scandinavian folk influence or item of personal significance. Some of the more simple furniture pieces come from her new design company, and offer a lot of flexibility in how they are used. 

Cecilia likes to say "there is no future without a past." Her mom created the kitchen rug and the living room couch pillow in a traditional Scandinavian style during the last year of her son's — Cecilia's brother's — life. Cecilia believes she did this to return to the past and cut free of the painful present. So, while Cecilia loves a sleek modern approach to design, she appreciates a strong recognition of traditions and believes that one without the other is only half of the story. Her creativity and boundless energy, combined with her dedication to reducing things to their bare truth, creates a richness that goes well beyond decor. 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern minimalist with a trace of the past. 

Inspiration: Scandinavian design, art and handicraft. 

Favorite Element: The light.

Biggest Challenge: Creating an uninterrupted flow of volumes. By simplifying the overall design and instead playing with volume, lines (both in the architectural space and in the placement and heights of the furnishings) and a non-aggressive color palette, I provide a setting that supports more vivid, colorful and worked pieces without destroying the general minimalistic design. 

What Friends Say: A fantastic apartment. 

Biggest Embarrassment: When my custom made extra long oak planks arrived, I realized that I would have to literally cut one wall open to fit them inside the apartment!

Proudest DIY: A crystal and felt lamp I created, and use as a bedside light in the master bedroom. 

Biggest Indulgence: Good quality materials

Best Advice:  Keep things simple. Work with the elements that are givens in a space, rather than against them. This will help to keep production costs down and save time.

Dream Sources: Carlisle Wide Plank Floors 

Resources of Note:


  • White walls maximize the potential of the  artwork. The art in the hallway is by Magnus Carlén, who uses a lot of abstract color.


  • Black eighteenth century occasion chairs contrast with the modern white sofa in the sitting room. I like mixing in antiques or vintage pieces from flea markets. It adds to a room’s character and timelessness
  • Felt Utrecht armchair by Gerrit Rietveld, for Cassina
  • Coffee table by Piero Lissoni, for Cassina
  • Sofa by Piero Lissoni,  for Cassina.
  • Occasional red splashes such as the circular rugs help to unify the large space. And my personal touches through flowers, cushions and artwork. 
  • Red mat from Ikea 
  • The red cushion and throw are handmade in Sweden by Lena Eklund. 


  • Super Elipse table by Bruno Mathson, Fritz Hanzen


  • Red chair is made from over a hundred recycled Coca-Cola bottles! (similar styles available from Design Within Reach)
  • Miss K bedside lamp by Philippe Starck
  • Cushions from Crate and Barrel


  • Bed is by Ikea. Asplar storage foundation and custom made additional invisible storage unit. 
  • Storage units underneath the window and the wardrobe/desk are my own custom made design. The space is very small and the idea was to create a generous sofa like bed to broaden the narrow width of the room without consuming any extra space
  • Bedside bedside table/additional seat are my design for Zig
  • Black square is my design for Zig and is a foldable ottoman to become a twin bed within a second.
  • The pillows comes from Marimekko , Cassina  and Crate and Barrel.
  • Mosaic Tile by Bisazza 
  • Faucet by Philippe Starck for Axor
  • Mirror, shapes and compositions designed by Cecilia
  • Sink is combination of cement, mosaic, porcelain and corian top
  • Cecilia created an "ellipse shape for the mirror to reinforce the sculptural feel of the space. I designed the seamless closets, cladded in mosaic to maximize the use of space without disturbing the general composition of the bathroom."
  • "The movable floor to ceiling glass shower door provides both maximum harmony and maximum function. When the shower is not in use it folds back and creates more usable space in the bathroom."
  • Jacuzzi by MTI whirpools. 
  • Toilet by Duravit
  • Porcelain sink by Toto. 
  • Vanity unit by Ikea with a custom made corian top. 
  • Marble is 24"24" carerra marble


  • White and red garden furniture makes this abundant roof terrace feel like an extension of the interior space. 
  • White table is foldable and is from Crate and Barrel
  • Chairs are from Design Within Reach, Philippe Starck
  • Rectangular outside Zig units I created with my partner for Cezign, my design company. 

Thanks, Cecilia!

(Images: Jill Slater)

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