When it comes to finding palette inspiration, designers are known to look just about anywhere—a favorite flower, the surrounding cityscape, a beloved family heirloom. For New York-based decorator Nicole Fuller, a client’s pet.
“I’m not kidding!” laughs Fuller as she recounts the unconventional tale behind the Tribeca loft she recently completed for artist Fischer Cherry. The two originally met through mutual friends and instantly hit it off over a shared love of art, design, and, it turned out, very fluffy cats: Fuller has three Maine coons, while Cherry and her husband own a pair of ragdolls, Monty and Hue, in addition to a Polish sheepdog.
Soon, Cherry reached out to Fuller to help bring personality into her new home, a three-bedroom apartment. “It was a bare-bones loft with lots of white paint everywhere,” says Fuller. “Fischer loved the location and high ceilings and layout, but it felt really cold and not homey, so she and I worked together to create intimate moments throughout the open space.”
As soon as Fuller met Monty, one of the ragdolls, she knew exactly where to start. “We were talking about how his eyes are the most beautiful blue, so I thought, Why not do the living room sofa in the same color?” she says. “It took 50 silk velvets to find the right one!” With the pale blue in place, Fuller designed a show-stopping lacquer bookcase in a similar color, adding gold leaf on the edges. “It accentuates the drama of the ceiling’s height but also helps define the space,” she explains.
From there, the designer brought in pops of raspberry and fuchsia—inspired by Fischer’s favorite peonies—and graphic striped curtains on the windows. “Monty ombrés from cream to gray to black, so we incorporated those colors in the curtains,” says Fuller, who also painted the window trim black throughout the entire apartment and replaced the wood window sills with honed black Carrara marble. “The black made it more sophisticated and chic, plus marble holds up so much better than wood sills,” Fuller adds.
In the adjacent rooms, more of Monty’s coloring crept in. “We looked at his paws and his pink ears and though we have to bring this pale dusty rose into the house somehow, so we basically designed a pink silk carpet to match!” says Fuller. In the bedroom, she painted the walls an even paler pink, which she paired with a dark navy silk rug—a favorite combination.
While silks and velvets might not seem like the obvious choices for a three-pet household, Fuller begs to differ: “Organic materials like wool and silk are actually more washable than many synthetics—you can get anything out,” she explains. “Mohair is ideal for pets because they can’t pull at it like they would a linen, and bouclé is really forgiving because you can just tug any pulls back into place.” In addition, Fuller says she Fiber-Seals all of the upholstery and rugs in her projects for extra protection: “I love it because it gives clients the confidence to really live in their homes and not worry about kids dropping a raspberry or having a party with red wine,” she explains.
Considering that Cherry also works from the apartment—a back bedroom was turned into a painting studio—and often hosts her own clients there, it became doubly important that the space be suited to entertaining. “Even though it’s comfortable, it still feels elevated and sophisticated,” says Fuller. “When clients come for studio visits, they really see a thread of who Fischer is throughout the space.”
To Fuller, the project has been a work of art in itself. “It was a fluid process, and we had a lot of fun doing it—Fischer was less concerned by how quickly we got it done than doing it right,” recalls Fuller. “Sometimes we’d get a lot done, sometimes we’d just play with the cats and drink wine!”
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