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See What Happens When an Interior Designer Allows Himself to ‘Nest a Little Bit’

a living room with a couch and a coffee table
You’d Never Believe This Apartment Is a RentalRichard Powers

Sometimes a move is necessitated by a growing brood or a lifestyle change. But sometimes a move is just an opportunity to experiment. That’s how designer and New Yorker Timothy Brown approached his upgrade from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit in the same building.

“It’s prewar but not prissy,” Brown says of the Manhattan building. Plus, with his office just around the corner at the New York Design Center, staying put made sense. “It makes a walk with the dog super easy in the morning,” he adds.

a living room with a blue rug
In the living room, Brown reupholstered the couch and brought in a new cocktail table. Much of the decor and art came out of storage.Richard Powers

The new apartment, which he moved into in October 2020, also offered ample room for entertaining—a priority after the pandemic. “I needed to spread out a little bit,” he says. “I had to figure out how to make the space function if I wanted to have eight people over for dinner where we’re not sitting on top of each other.”

That second bedroom, then, became the perfect spot for additional dining and office space. From there, Brown simply made tweaks, like changing out the toilet and the vanity in the bathroom. The galley kitchen is accessible from two sides so that if he and his partner, the fashion designer (and soon-to-be cookbook author) Peter Som, decide to host a dinner party, whoever is cooking needn’t feel cut off from the festivities.

Dining Room

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

In the dining room, the art is by Mitchell Schorr. The pine stool is by Rainer Daumiller, and the table and chairs are vintage, purchased from a Paris flea market.

Kitchen

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

Brown installed stainless steel shelving in the kitchen from a restaurant supply store. The photograph is by Richard Phibbs.

Living Room

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

The living room is oriented around a large photograph by Elger Esser. The sofa is a custom design, the rug is by Sacco, and the cocktail table is by Gae Aulenti. The tiered side table is French Art Deco, and the cased glass lamp is vintage Italian.

Living Room

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

One corner of the living room showcases a Noguchi floor lamp alongside stacked photographs by Dan Jones, from Tulla Booth Gallery. The leather lounge chair is by Cassina.

Living Room

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

Brown’s own art occupies a far corner of the living room, offset by an Edward Wormley bench for Dunbar. The cork stool is by Vitra, and the vintage ceramic table lamp is by Marcello Fantoni.

Home Office

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

The second bedroom was converted into a dining room–cum–home office. The table is by Afra and Tobia Scarpa, the dining chairs are by Pierre Guariche, and the rug is by Sacco. The wardrobe is French Art Deco.

Home Office

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

The Italian rosewood chair is by Illums Bolighus, and the floor lamp is vintage. Wall works include an Ed Ruscha poster from Gagosian Gallery, a black-and-white peony photographed by Andrew Stewart, and an iPhone photograph of a Sag Harbor sunset taken by Brown himself.

Primary Bedroom

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

In the bedroom, the Nest storage bed from Design Within Reach is dressed in Sferra sheets with a coverlet by Society Limonta. The photograph is by Olaf Otto Becker, the Tolomeo lamps are by Artemide, and the side table is by ASH NYC.

Primary Bedroom

Photo credit: Richard Powers
Photo credit: Richard Powers

The black leather sling chair is from Wyeth. The dual cabinets are vintage, as is the ceramic table lamp. The art above is an original work in folded paper by Brown, and the small work is by David Benjamin Sherry.

Brown then outfitted the space with pieces he’s collected over the years, using it as a playground to discover what would work for his clients. He also was able to introduce more color than usual. “This is a bit more saturated for me,” he says. “It gives me a chance to play with what works and what doesn’t work—to experiment on a larger scale. I can love it or hate it, but I’m not going to fire myself.”

He had the sofa reupholstered to give it a new life and brought in new chairs and a cocktail table. “I used to be really good about not showing everything, but here I allowed myself to nest a little bit. I think we all sort of have that bug in us, and I think that comes from seeing so many things, from traveling—you’re always wondering how you can make it work. I just wanted stuff around me.”

a bed with a painting on the wall
Despite moving into a two-bedroom unit, Brown used only one bedroom and turned the other into a dining area and home office.Richard Powers

Now, with a new home in Sag Harbor, New York, that keeps him “busy in the garden all summer,” Brown is sizing back down in the city, to a one bedroom—and yes, it’s in the same building. “I’m ready for a blank slate,” he says with a laugh. “For me, it’s like, How minimal can I make it but still be comfortable? This was a fun, big experiment. But I need to feel like I’m in a white box, again.”

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