Design is no one and done task for designer Bryan Graybill. The visionary behind Bryan Graybill DDB, a full-service design agency that oversees real estate projects from the drafting of the blueprints to the picking of the furniture fabrics, Bryan takes homes and “tries to envision how future homeowners would live in the space.” His knack for conceptualizing was key when it came to transforming the Art Deco-era apartment that he shares with his husband on New York City’s Central Park West from a certified disaster, complete with green shag carpet and orange and yellow linoleum, into a modern-day gem.
With space at a premium (the apartment’s only 1,300 square feet), smart design was implemented at every turn, including a multitude of built-ins (which Bryan aptly likens to “yacht design”) and a skillful blending of his self-described luxe-leanings and his husband’s Mid-Century Modern ones. The result is an apartment that reads similar to Bryan’s overall design aesthetic of a “bit of color, a bit of humor,” and reminds us that style need never be sacrificed due to a space crunch.
Making a Grand Entrance
Take one step into the apartment and the first thing you’ll notice is the double-wide entry, which was originally designed to accommodate bachelors who entertained in the early 1900s. While some might have been quick to reallocate the entry’s space, Bryan chose to view the spacious entry as an asset. “We designed a number of closets and drawers at the entry,” he explains, “so we could start un-layering as we come in from the elements.” Because the space is open to the living room, it also doubles as a mingling zone when Bryan and his husband entertain. “I find that’s where everyone wants to be!” he admits. “It’s hard to get people past that space because it’s wide enough for a party.”
Functional & Luxe Furnishings
In the main living room area, an ink-colored cotton velvet sectional from B & B Italia takes center stage. Citing their supreme functionality, Bryan is a firm believer that a sectional can be chic when done right. “Part of the program is we entertain, yes,” he admits, “but part of the program is that this is where we decompress and watch TV.” The blue velvet renders the sectional cocktail-ready, while the plush chaise means it’s down for no-frills lounging. “My husband and I end up fighting over the chaise part of the sectional,” he jokes. “So, we compromise.”
In keeping with the posh-yet-livable feel, other pieces in the room include a beyond-glam-looking Willy Rizzo cocktail table that’s actually constructed of white Formica, with an inset gold tray that makes the table feel anything but basic, and a playful pair of His & Hers Borsani chairs covered in a nubby, boucle fabric.
Contain with Shelves
To maximize the footprint of the living room, powder-coated steel shelving was installed in a grid-like pattern. In essence, the storage works like a screen, allowing furniture to be layered in front of it. The concept came about as Bryan searched for media storage that didn’t look like media storage. He ultimately landed on the idea of a piece “that expresses itself as a proper bookcase.” As for the TV? Bryan made what he calls a “very unapologetic” move, and adhered it directly to the front of the shelving. “I think technology changes and evolves so quickly and I didn’t want to have bespoke joinery that would soon look outdated. So now, if the television unit or equipment changes, it’s easy to just replace it.”
Double-Duty Living Space
While Bryan will admit he and his husband are more of “drinks” entertainers than “sit-down dinner” entertainers, a dining room table was a must for him. When the apartment was reconfigured during initial renovations, a dining room went unfulfilled due to space limitations. Bryan’s solution was factoring a round dining table into the main living space. By opting for a round, red lacquered model that extends, and surrounding it with cane-backed Mid-Century chairs, Bryan retained the main living space’s airy feel, but can now comfortably seat up to 10.
A Harmonious Home Office
Bryan’s husband is a cello player and works long hours at home, meaning the extra bedroom needed to function as both a home office and as a practice and recital space (intimate performances happen a few times every year according to Bryan). To create a room that could undertake both, Bryan opted for an energized palette of cerulean and teal and once again introduced the same Mid-Century Modern silhouettes. The Mid-Century wood veneer and blackened glass coffee table, sourced from Chairish, is the perfect complement to the low-profile sofa and tongue-in-cheek skull artwork by Andy Warhol.
A Transformative Rest Space
In the bedroom, Bryan sought to create a sedate space by juxtaposing dark and muted colors. For the wood floors this means a dark finish, while the walls are swathed in linen. “I wanted it to feel very much like a cocoon,” Bryan says of the effect, noting that it also, “helps soften any outside noise.” Equally cocoon-like is the marled finish chair in the corner and the low-profile bed which makes the room feel larger than it is. Completing the twilight vibe is a swirled Murano globe pendant. “To me, lighting is like jewelry on an outfit,” Bryan says, reveling yet another ingenious way to imbue big style into a small space (his specialty, clearly).
Photos by Lesley Unruh, Styled by Catherine Dash