House Tour: Matthew & Joseph's Soft Grey Tones

House Tour: Matthew & Joseph's Soft Grey Tones

Maxwell Ryan
Aug 27, 2008

Here's Laura's final post! Comment away.

Name: Matthew Kowles and Joseph Runfola
Location: New York, NY
Size: 1 bedroom, approx. 750 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years
R or O: Rent
Who else lives here? Just two and a dog, Mijo


Upon entering Matthew and Joseph's apartment, you experience the instant calm of a boutique hotel room: Light fills the space, there's no clutter in sight and the palette is comprised of soft tones and shades of grey.

But this clean-lined space contains the punches of personality and touches of life that hotel rooms lack. It's no surprise the two have such a well-dressed home: Joseph is the store manager and visual merchandiser for Carolina Herrera Madison Avenue, while Matthew worked for a New York-based interior design firm for several years before joining the staff at Charlotte Moss' gilded interior design emporium, the Charlotte Moss Townhouse...


The space was a blank canvas when the two moved in three years ago. The midtown rental was blessed with simple, tasteful bath and kitchen fixtures, and they added texture to the space with washed, glazed walls and crisp, white trim in the living spaces and a dramatic shade of blue-grey in the bathroom.

The furniture is neutral and classic, which leaves the couple free to incorporate new, colorful accessories when the mood strikes. Their uptown jobs don't prevent the couple from shopping for affordable furnishings—Ikea and West Elm are frequent resources. However, the mix of old and new—like an architectural fragment atop a West Elm shelf—keeps the space looking anything but off-the-shelf.

The real secret to this space is their organization. This is a home where everything truly has a place. (Opening a perfectly organized kitchen drawer, we were instantly inspired to go home and tackle our own "junk drawer.") The lack of clutter gives the space its relaxing atmosphere. As Matthew says, "It's the perfect Manhattan pied a terre—we just happen to live here all the time."

AT Survey

Your style? Clean lines, but luxurious.

Greatest inspiration? Light, space and Vincent Wolf.

Favorite element? We like the calmness we feel very quickly after entering a space where we are comfortable, surrounded by things we have chosen, rid of the outside.

Biggest challenge? Dust. (It could be worse.)

What do friends say?
They wonder where we put our stuff, but it's just organized. (Joseph sees to that.) We entertain constantly and people are able to relax here and enjoy the simplicity of it.

Biggest embarrassment? The dog's wee-wee pad and Matthew's closet. (Yes, it's a tie.) But we work and the dog is very well trained.

Proudest DIY?
Joseph did the wall finish (washed with a tinted Benjamin Moore glaze). Matthew did the trim: high gloss white.

Biggest Indulgence? Besides the piano, which isn't such an indulgence if one actually plays it (which we do), it would be the Carlyle sofa. We figure it will outlast pretty much everything else (except the piano), and it is the central location for lounging, entertaining, overnight guests, the dog's permanent look out, etc. It ought to be nice!

Best Advice? The most important factor to making a space livable is good light. Windows yes, but also understanding how to get the right type of light where you need it, and obviously its source should be attractive as well.

Dream Source? Poltrona Frau

Other Inspiration? Peace, Excellent craftsmanship



Kitchen: Appliances, GE.
Dining area: Table, Ikea; shelving, West Elm; chairs, "Ghost" by Kartell.
Living area: Piano, Yamaha; vase (with palm leaves), Jonathan Adler; couch, Carlyle; dresser, West Elm, stump, West Elm.
Bedroom: Armoire, Ikea.
Bathroom: Shower curtain, Gracious Home.


- Laura Fenton

(This is the last of four posts by Laura, with all previous posts listed below)

Huggable Hangers in the Test Lab
Billy's Antiques & Props
Quick Trick: Little Leafy Arrangements

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