For chic city spaces, Nicholas Obeid is always a source of inspiration. From Tribeca to the Upper East Side, his background in product, art direction, and prop styling lends his interiors a unique point of view, making him an in-demand designer. In a recent Soho project, he balanced a blend of styles and eras, achieving what he calls the “considered mix that makes a room sing—it draws you to the space because it feels collected and genuine. It’s not a showroom, it has a spirit.”
We spoke with Nicholas about designing with respect to the history of a neighborhood, mixing vintage finds with new furnishings, and how he collects pieces over time to make a space feel personal. Read on for a glimpse of this Soho space, and shop his curated Chairish collection.
This was a huge space to design for NYC—how did you tackle such an open area and create distinct spaces?
This was immediately addressed with curtains, adding softness to an otherwise cavernous blank box. The sheer texture filters light through without blocking that characteristically Soho view.
How does the spirit of Soho come through in the space, and in your approach to the design?
Soho to me is synonymous with stylish, from the models walking the streets below to the intricate cast-iron painted facades. Always designing an interior with respect to its place, that stylish Soho attitude is brought through with an unexpected mix of furnishings, old and new, all centered around an existing original stone mantle.
What’s your usual process in working with clients, and how did it work in this case?
The first conversation is best on site, where I can get a sense of how clients live—and how they want to live. From there, I’ll begin putting together moodboards and materials to align creatively. Without the flexibility of timing that I may perhaps have in my own home, I still try to first focus on anchoring furniture and slowly layer in vintage finds for a process that is genuinely collected over time. I cannot confirm every last accent table and decorative accessory from the initial presentation—this is what makes the process personal.
How did your background as a product designer and prop stylist influence your approach to the design?
Designing custom furniture for my interior design projects is definitely a highlight. With some projects, these pieces are the foundation of the room, otherwise they are designed to fill in the blanks. In my process, I’m always considering a room’s vignette: the initial and subsequent viewpoints. Does the left balance the right? Will the directional shadow from this dimensional artwork actually make it appear off-center? Should the decor over a table remain simple because the table itself is the gesture?
Tell us about your approach to vintage and antique furnishings. What kinds of pieces were you looking for with this project, and how did you integrate them?
Without a specific formula, I inherently begin with custom upholstery and layer in vintage tables and lighting. Practically, it allows me to tailor items like sofas, on which clients spend most of their time, to the size of the room and their preferences. It’s this considered mix that makes a room sing—it draws you to the space because it feels collected and genuine. It’s not a showroom, it has a spirit.
The art in the spaces is used very intentionally—always additive, never overwhelming. Tell us about your process in selecting the art.
My clients tend to have art of their own—these being no exception—so we always start there. What’s the point in designing their home if they don’t feel a connection to it? Art tends to be the most subjective layer so I’m often convincing clients to use what they prefer, not what I prefer. I also work with a handful of favorite galleries and artists all over the world, and am always on the hunt for something that speaks to me.
Do you have a favorite area of the apartment that you designed? What makes it so?
The living room seems to have resonated most with my clients, who trusted me implicitly. My goal was to achieve absolute balance—in visual weight (a solid coffee table near a leggy metal lamp) and color (a green olive-jar lamp anchored by an olive green sofa opposite the room). The colorful yet subtle brick-and-olive color scheme is accented by a range of neutral textures—marble, oak, wool, bronze, silk, and shearling.
Any favorite vintage finds used in the project?
The vintage red leather swivel chair by Tobia and Afra Scarpa, which perfectly complements the rust-toned metal wall sculpture by Paul Moorehouse hanging nearby over the mantle.
Lead image: Photo by Tim Lenz