When it came time for interior designerLucy Doswell to move from downtown Manhattan uptown, closer to her children’s New York City schools, her parents suggested she try the building they lived in as newlyweds when she was born.

As fate would have it, there was a classic 6 apartment for rent on the 4 floor of the same prewar building. Inside, it had all the 1925 charm—a beautiful fireplace and detailed trim work—with modern updates including a removed wall between the dining and living rooms, creating a more livable great room. Doswell and her family wanted a space they could make feel like home and, though the apartment was a rental, it had all the elements they wanted for their young family.

It was the perfect size and ideal for entertaining with treetop-level views that are magical at both Christmastime when everything’s lit up and in spring when things are blooming right under their eyes. As a result, what felt originally like a three-year-rental is now becoming more of a long-term living situation.

With friendly doormen, lots of families from school, and a leave-your-door-unlocked mentality, Doswell says,“it feels like a dorm.” She knew the second she started putting wallpaper up she was really committing, adding,

Wallpaper makes maximum impact in the foyer where patterned Tiger Lily wallcoverings by Chambord Place are trimmed with peacock blue grosgrain ribbon she found in the fashion district. Lucy and her husband spent a weekend painstakingly fishing the detailed border and then graced the punchy entry walls with a series of bird prints framed in gold leaf—a bigger investment she can bring with her if they ever move.

Since the living room and dining room are one big space (thanks to a wall that came down in a previous renovation) Doswell wanted them to feel open and airy. Neutral furnishings and warm white walls (Benjamin Moore Athena) reflect all the natural afternoon light coming from the five windows while two big floral armchairs make a statement covered in Quadrille Jardin des Plantes.“With a lighter color you can go punchier with fabrics,” she says. It’s also a more temporary—but equally eye-catching—alternative to punchy floral wallpaper.

Two identical Stark rugs connect the living room and the dining room, where Doswell kept things“formal, but not stuffy” by mixing traditional and casual elements. Here a George III style dining table is paired with Bungalow Five loop chairs covered in kid-proof Kravet pale blue vinyl. A lantern from the Noguchi Museum“makes a fun, midcentury impact for not a lot of money” (or complicated hard-wiring!).

When Doswell and her husband were married and living in a tiny apartment, they found this antique folding table from Assaf Antiques that has leaves and can fold out accordion-style to seat eight people. Now it’s the perfect work-from-home desk in the living room, proving it’s worth it to hold on to the good stuff!

In the spirit of repurposing, Lucy took a former TV console (that she designed and had built by her uncle, Tom Hobgood) that’s lived many lives in various apartments and made it work as a sideboard bar. The designer dressed it up in Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paint and cut down brass rosette curtain tie-backs fromPE Guerin,“a candy shop for a decorator” for hardware. The result is a portable alternative to a built-in bar.

Knowing you don’t want to wallpaper every wall in a rental, a patterned headboard can do the trick. For her bedroom, Doswell chose a rosy Nina Campbell Woodsford fabric from Osborne & Little and paired it with Biscuit Home’s Dorothy Blue bedding.“I love a serene blue and white bedroom, but this feels a little more happy and bright,” says the designer.

Since the tiny room (once upon a time, the maid’s quarters) isn’t big on space or detail, Doswell went smart (storage drawers under the Charles Beckley bed) and bright with a Pendleton blanket and a piece of art gifted by her husband from Anne Reed Gallery in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she used to work. To really make it special, she lined the walls in Faux bois wallpaper by Nobilis.“He calls it his treehouse,” says the designer.

Red, white, and blue makes a great children’s palette, yet gets a grownup twist with custom Roman shades,a navy striped lampshade, and an antique red campaign dresser from 1 Dibs (antiques are a great way to add instant patina to a more temporary space). A framed photo of Lucy’s father on a pony sits next to a stack of books from the New York Review Children’s Collection.


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