Collins, who has served as general contractor and interior designer for several of her own houses, was hell bent on rescuing a 1970s suburban cottage plagued by
hexagonal terra-cotta tile floors and harvest-gold appliances.
Stumped by how to handle a dysfunctional floor plan that
included a clunky spiral staircase stuck at one end of the living
room, and craving a vintage-goes-modern mien, she sought help.
The design team’s first hurdle was convincing their client to
eliminate the awkward staircase (there’s a second stair off the
kitchen) along with the dark wood railing that rimmed the loft.
“We were able to close a poorly placed opening in the center of
the wall and use the new steel-and-glass railings to establish a
modern direction in the living room,” says Kranitz, noting that they
opted to save the tired oak fireplace mantel by refreshing it with
paint and new stonework.
Complementing the commanding fireplace are two custom
sofas, each imbued with a soft modern swoop, one topped with
a throw pillow fashioned from the owner’s Missoni scarf. “We had
to give Mimi a little symmetry,” says Wertepny, who continued
the curves with a burgundy mohair Mr. Brown chair and a Bradley
Hughes table with a sassy brass base reminiscent of a giant
bangle bracelet. “We always look for contrasting elements to
streamline a space, like combining the dark-gray mirrored cube
coffee table we designed with burnished brass or gold.”
A world traveler who once helped build a school in Tanzania,
Wertepny loves to embellish spaces with ethnic accents, so when
Collins unearthed a pair of tribal photos taken during a trip to
Kenya, it was a happy moment. “My soul smiled, and I was so
impressed that Mimi would be open to something like that,” says
Wertepny. “Of course she thought they’d end up in the powder
room, but we suspended them from the ceiling and hung them in
front of the dining room draperies.”
In that same dining room area, molded felt chairs with chrome
bases mingle with a pair of vintage high backs sporting fur seats,
all surrounding the client’s existing Baker table updated with a
custom dark glass top. A bubble-shaped chandelier from Oly
Studio presides over the room. “Things seem to be disconnected
at first, but when you throw it all into the mix, you get a playful
interaction that works,” says Wertepny, who added studded
nail heads on the bottom of the Fabricut draperies to keep the
pleated fabric from getting too stuffy.