Simple And Happy Lead The Way For A Minimalist Take On A West Chelsea Holiday Home


The living room of a family’s new pied-à-terre in West Chelsea was designed around bespoke elements like a sofa upholstered in Kravet suede, a Zimmer + Rohde velvet chair and metallic coffee tables. The cane chair is from Carlyle Collective, the credenza is from Global Views and the lamp is Arteriors. On the far wall hangs a ceramic tapestry by Michele Quan.

“Bold colors and patterns add energy to a neutral base,” says Richard Ouellette of a West Chelsea condo he designed for a Canadian family. In the living area, the RH bookshelf displays a curated mix of objets, including a link sculpture by Michele Quan, a ceramic bowl by Matthew Ward and an iron vessel by Jake Szymanski. The red leather chaise is from BassamFellows and the Persian rug is from W Studio in Toronto.

Pink chinoiserie panels from de Gournay set a gentle, classical tone in the dining area, echoing the idea of historical panel screens. Surrounding the RH table are Kara Mann for Baker Furniture chairs upholstered in a medley of mismatched fabrics by Kelly Wearstler, Kravet Couture and Lewis & Wood. The bespoke, two-tier chandelier is Gabriel Scott.

In the living room, a custom swivel lounge chair upholstered in an emerald green Zimmer + Rohde velvet joins an accent table from West Elm. The green swirl painting is from Sedgwick & Brattle and rests atop a media cabinet from Global Views.

Just off the living room is a study that became a nursery. The colorful, underwater scene wallpaper by Cole & Son drove the design, which features a trundle bed upholstered in a Kravet velvet, a hand-painted nightstand from Maisonette, GP & J Baker velvet drapes fabricated by RoseHyll Studio and a sconce and rug from West Elm. The woven elephant basket is from Rice.

Riffing off the master bathroom’s existing materials—limestone tiles and stained oak paneling—Ouellette chose neutral, muted decor selections to achieve a Zen feel. The custom bench is upholstered in a Zimmer + Rohde velvet and the wooden bowls and terra-cotta urn are from RH.

Ouellette created a feature wall in the master bedroom with an orange grass cloth from Ralph Lauren Home. The bed is upholstered in a mix of seafoam-toned Kravet fabrics and topped with an Annie Selke coverlet and pillows of a Jim Thompson fabric. Nest Studio pulls adorn the custom nightstand and the pendant is from Atelier Anaka in Montreal, where the designer also found the rug at Red Carpet & Rug. The petite landscape painting is from Sedgwick & Brattle.

“The vintage, drop-leaf table and customized chairs in the foyer allow for additional seating when extended family gathers together and remain useful for daily in-and-outs,” notes the designer. The table was a Chairish find and the chairs are from Avant-Scène in Montreal. Decor from Sedgwick & Brattle, including the framed artwork, leather vessel and jade paintbrushes, jazz up the scene. The basket is RH.

In the second child’s bedroom, another Cole & Sons wallpaper of a jungle scene sets a fantastical tone. The custom, flange-seam upholstered headboard features a Kravet wool and is topped with Lewis & Wood print pillows and a quilt from Schoolhouse. The milk glass sconce is a West Elm score.

“Knowing the clients and what they love, that was our starting point,” says designer Richard Ouellette of the Manhattan holiday home he created for a Canadian couple and their children. “This was our third project together and it’s always a very kismet experience.” The directive behind the brief made this particular project all the more enticing. “They wanted something ‘unexpected,’” Ouellette recalls—a word he immediately took to heart.

To emphasize that this is a vacation home and meant to be enjoyed differently than their primary residence, Ouellette’s first step was distilling the couple’s aesthetic within the modern, cosmopolitan context. “The wife likes an English, layered, decorated look,” he explains. “This isn’t a total departure from their style, but it’s done here in a more restrained, pure way.” So while the apartment bears all the hallmarks of what they love—texture, rich color and a European sophistication—it’s not heavy with overtly personal touches or the sentimentality that comes with heirloom furnishings or memorabilia. The family just “comes in and lives,” he says. “It’s easy.”

Throughout the condo, the designer strove to echo the architecture’s clean lines while infusing warmth, but he kept the unexpected directive top of mind. Case in point: The living area, where the first piece he designed was an angled ultra-suede sofa to shake up the layout. “We could have done the usual, formal approach of a sofa, coffee table and two chairs, but going with a deconstructed sofa felt dynamic. It’s meant to be an evolving and casual setting,” notes the designer. In conversation across the room, Ouellette next procured a cherry red leather daybed, a piece he describes as “a nod to Mies van der Rohe and brilliantly functional, but also a playground for the kids.” Harmonizing the unconventional scheme, discreet textural elements, such as creamy cashmere draperies and a sisal underlay rug, add softness and calm.

Ouellette took an equally curated approach to dressing the walls. He sourced arresting textile artworks, including a hemp-and-ceramic hanging by Michele Quan and a wool tapestry by Lauren Williams, to enliven cool expanses of white paint. And to draw in the views—the new residential building is located above the High Line and boasts its own spectacular gardens designed by Future Green Studio—the designer chose a selection of landscapes and large green and blue abstractions from Thom Filicia’s showroom, Sedgwick & Brattle. “Nature always needs to be part of the conversation,” Ouellette posits. “It brings life into a house.”

From their dégage leaning perches above the living room media cabinet and foyer table, respectively, those colorful pieces command attention, but it’s the feature wall backdrop in the adjacent dining area that really steals the show. To define that space, Ouellette framed a quartet of sweeping, pink silk de Gournay panels in a classic chinoiserie motif. Hung snugly together, they almost suggest boiserie. Illuminating the scene, the bespoke chandelier—a “bijoux” in Ouellette’s words—was chosen specifically to reflect the soft candy hues of the panels. “It’s subtle, but it’s there,” notes the designer of the tonal relationship.

“It’s just more fun to have color,” muses Ouellette—a sentiment on proud display in the home’s uplifting bedrooms. The master is a study in the power of opposites with its kicky orange-and-blue palette, and the boys’ rooms as well are vibrant with color, one with a lively jungle wallpaper and the other with an underwater scene. Proving just how flexible and accommodating this new condo has already been, the latter was originally intended to be a study, but baby number two arrived mid-design.

What Ouellette has captured here is the essence of this family’s life on vacation, which he describes as “calm, simple and happy.” But it’s not time to put away the presentation boards just yet. The group has just embarked on its fourth project together. This time it’s a cottage on a lake, and one that will no doubt emanate ease and be filled with equally resplendent surprises.