City Style: The Style of New York's Interieurs
Francine Gardner, owner of New York's Intérieurs, shows our writer Katie Mendelson how a few inspired finds can turn a city rooftop into an urban oasis.
When I refer to the “deck” of my Brooklyn apartment, I use the term loosely; in truth, it's a dirty patch of tar roof. But after a trip to the design firm Intérieurs on New York City's East 58th Street, I realized that with a few smart choices, even the most sharp-edged cityscape can become an urban oasis.
When Intérieurs' owner Francine Gardner relocated her showroom here in 2010, she knew what she was after: “I wanted a place to meet with clients, to eat lunch, and to relax and entertain,” she says. Inside, the breezy duplex showcases finds from four-poster beds to egg-shaped lamps. But the location's pièce de résistance is its 1,000-square-foot terrace. Even penned in by office buildings, the terrace's curated mix of furniture and greenery is ripe for casual entertaining. “It's quite unexpected in midtown Manhattan,” Gardner notes.
Gardner's design philosophy, favoring relaxation over perfection and melding periods and styles—an Indonesian petrified-wood side table topped with artist José Esteves' contemporary bird sculpture, for instance—results in an inspired but serene environment of vignettes. A sleek white dining table dressed with a colorful runner is the site of dinner parties; two seating areas, one with ample, handwoven-fiber chairs, the other arranged around tables set with eclectic conversation pieces, invite guests to sink in, enjoy a cocktail, dream, and chat.
Bright linens and elegant plastic plates and vessels make for a sleek, cheery summer table.
The details that give this terrace its inviting ambience can be replicated even in the smallest of spaces. Furniture-wise, comfort should reign supreme: Gardner's sofas and chairs, chosen for their high design and cushiness, are by Italian manufacturer Unopiù.
Unopiù's umbrella shades cozy WaProLace chairs and sofa; red pillows add a touch of color.
See more New York gardens.
But the real mood comes from personalized accents: Vierkant concrete planters, nautically inspired Tekna lighting fixtures, and plenty of warm touches. “What comes to mind when I think of an outdoor retreat,” she says, “are great fabrics, blankets for cool evenings, scented plants, and soft colors.”
Heavy concrete Vierkant planters lend a Modernist appeal and plenty of greenery to the terrace.
With these few principles as a guide, Gardner's goal—to turn her piece of nature into a relaxing space that fosters her guests' enjoyment—is achievable for any city dweller, whether their outdoor space is an expansive terrace or a simple rooftop.
Tekna wall scones, inspired by the craftsmanship of old trains and ships, cast a dreamy glow.
228 East 58th Street
New York, NY 10022