I am the type of person who gets depressed when I haven’t been to New York in a long while,” shares Johan Tjärnberg. With such a predisposition, it’s no wonder that Johan and his wife, Anneli, dreamt for years of owning a Manhattan abode of their own. Full-time Stockholm residents, the Tjärnbergs historically made thrice annual New York City visits, even tying the knot at a Swedish church in Midtown on a bluebird September day, allowing them to introduce the city to their children and extended family.
But it wasn’t until finding a listing for a posh two-bedroom jewel box with 16-foot ceilings and classical moldings in a landmarked 1893 midrise that the dream became a reality. After walking through the building’s grand, marble-clad lobby that sang of old New York, they were sold.
Impressed with his refined portfolio and upbeat personality, the couple soon hired interior designer Jordan Carlyle, a longtime friend of their broker, to help them make the space their own. While the Tjärnbergs were excited to give Carlyle lots of freedom, it was important that the pied-à-terre feel decidedly modern and cosmopolitan—a distinct contrast to their more traditional Stockholm residence and relaxed, Hamptons-style vacation home in Spain.
“They wanted this home to be quintessentially ‘New York,’ and that can be interpreted in many ways,” Carlyle notes. Opting to lean into the classicism of the building and the artistic spirit of the city, he envisioned a sophisticated palette of neutrals accentuated by layers of rich, varied textures. In the living area, for example, a custom silk striped rug anchors a tailored bouclé-covered cream sofa and mohair slingback chairs gathered around a shapely cocktail table with an oxidized metal top. Bouclé stools likewise add coziness to the waterfall-style island and creamy white cabinetry in the open kitchen. But while Carlyle layered textures to “lend dimensions to the design,” he conversely employed a one-note paint scheme to tie the space together. Across every room, the walls, ceilings—and notably, the original moldings—sport the same monochrome ecru hue.
Art also played an important role in Carlyle’s visualization. Commissioned specifically for the space around its paint and fabric swatches, a large-scale abstract painting by Joelle Somero makes the most of a feature wall in the living room. And a series of precisely placed small ceramic sculptures by Syra Gomez cascade around a corner over the sofa. “If I were to choose, I would basically live in a museum with a few pieces of comfortable upholstery,” says Carlyle with a laugh, adding, “not every client wants a gallery-like feel for their living room, so this was exciting.”
Meanwhile, in the bedrooms, the interior designer focused on creating a sense of intimacy to counter the soaring ceilings. Neutral linen wallcoverings and floor-to-ceiling draperies “add a warm, inviting mood,” he explains. In the primary suite, a large-scale abstract painting by Struan Teague over the bed helps to fill the lofty walls and a tall angular upholstered headboard reminiscent of an urban skyline plays a similar role in the guest quarters.
Soaring ceilings aside, the floor plan itself was an exercise in evoking grandness. Case in point: the kitchen-adjacent dining area, where, refusing to bow to the space’s diminutive dimensions, the designer nestled a custom-sized round marble dining table surrounded by upholstered armchairs. “When you’re challenged with a smaller space, the key is to not do smaller pieces of furniture,” he explains.
When the last piece of furniture was finally in place and the time came for the big reveal, Carlyle outfitted the apartment with everything from bed linens to coffee pods. He then lit candles and queued up soft jazz from the new state-of-the-art sound system before walking Johan through his new home. Comparing the joy and excitement of that experience to Christmas morning, Johan recreated the same ambience when his wife and children arrived in town just a few days later. It’s a feeling with staying power for the Tjärnbergs, who look forward to future family vacations and romantic getaways alike in their so-desired apartment—and most of all, to banishing those missing-the-city blues for good.