“I had lived here for a year, but until the Covid-19 pandemic I had never seen my apartment in daylight,” said Colin King, a 33-year-old interior designer from Brooklyn Heights. Before the stay at home orders went into effect in New York in March 2020, he spent his days walking around to customer appointments or on his way to London, Copenhagen, Madrid or Marrakech to produce design stories and advertisements for brands like the Danish furniture company Hay and the American paint company Benjamin Moore. But it wasn’t until he was isolated in front of an 1830s brownstone on his 500-square-foot walk-through second floor that King finally had time to think about what he wanted to do with his own space.
His landlords, who are committed to the preservation of the district, have foregone soulless renovations that offer tenants modern comfort at the expense of interesting elements from the time, so King’s room has retained many of its original details: six over six narrow windows Bars, a working marble fireplace, oak flooring, and lavish paneling and moldings under the 12-foot ceilings, the edges of which have been softened by nearly two centuries of color. If you enter the one-room apartment through a pantry from the 1980s next to an inconspicuous bathroom with pink and black tiles, your gaze is immediately drawn to the classically proportioned living room, which is two-meter-high, light-flooded, high shutters overlooking the tree-lined street .
In his professional projects, King tries to add elegance to the most mundane spaces. But his Instagram is the purest expression of his style – a series of poetic still lifes rendered in a palette of off-white, dark gray, and brown: a cluster of ceramics under an arched solitary branch (King occasionally traces this from the city’s sidewalks) a storm) or a subtle detail from one of his jobs – a forgotten corner behind a bedroom door, inconspicuous to others, but somehow elegiac in his eyes.
When he started renovating his house, there was basically just a sofa (the classic Le Bambole, which appeared puffy but tapered by Italian designer Mario Bellini in the early 1970s) and a place to eat (a cream-colored round travertine marble table , also from the 1970s) and a comfortable chair (an LC4 chaise longue from the 1960s by Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret made of worn black leather). The consistently white walls looked too yellow in the living room and too boring everywhere else. When he wasn’t at his dining table, he had to put his coffee on the floor next to his low mattress or couch. His collections of design books and contemporary art were either piled on the wall or piled on the floor, and the kind of things he was paid to find for others – ceramic vases, houseplants, table lamps, objects, and mirrors – were essentially missing .
After repainting – it took three tries to get the bedroom the perfect shade of hazy gray, and the rest of the apartment is now an off-white that is neither too warm nor too cool – King began filling his room. He ordered a blocky white Utrecht armchair from Cassina, which was designed in the 1930s by the Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld; a velvet and walnut stool by Ben Bloomstein and Aaron Aujlas Green River Project in the East Village; a custom-made table lamp by New York ceramist Danny Kaplan; and some vintage mid-century Pierre Jeanneret woven rattan chairs that King borrowed from his friend, Chelsea gallery owner Dobrinka Salzman. In the living room, he placed a hand-thrown modernist vase by British potter Lucie Rie from the early 20th century next to an old mirror on the mantelpiece. In contrast to his styling gigs, which often involved hasty deadlines, occupying his apartment was a slower, more conscious endeavor: “I had time to listen to the room,” he says. The result is simple but complex, interweaving different threads of 1970s Italian design, early American architecture, and French modernism with a subtlety that few young designers who tend to experiment with wanton eclecticism create.
KING’S APARTMENT embodies the minimalist aesthetic that he has been working on for years, but not without detours. He and his twin brother grew up on a farm in rural Ohio where idleness was not welcome; there were always chores to do, and since they lived an hour away from school, they seldom saw friends. As a teenager, King remembers having his voice “really confident,” he says, “as if I came out every time I opened my mouth.” But at 13 he discovered dance, and when he turned 18 he moved to New York to continue his jazz and ballet studies, though the reality of making it as a performer soon discouraged him; On a whim, he moved to Los Angeles at the age of 22, where he was confronted with the same frustrations: “I was told again and again: ‘You are too tall, you are too thin, you are not manly enough’ – at some point you have to give the hint So he began working as a fitness instructor, followed by a brief stint as a property manager, before finding a job as a digital content producer at Consort, a design company with a store on Melrose Avenue. There he was hired to pull goods off the shelves, style and photograph a vignette and promote it on social media. He had finally found something he was as passionate about as dancing.
In 2017 he returned to New York. Like many of his colleagues, he juggled several gigs to stay afloat: in the morning he was a personal trainer; In the afternoons he was in charge of the social media accounts of the One Kings Lane private label; in the evening he scouted and pitched stories for magazines to establish himself as a stylist. However, within a few months, King was fully booked, so for the first time in his life he was able to focus on a job.
But even though he’s settled, his apartment is still developing. He’s currently looking for a large oil painting that hangs over his bed, a vintage Joe D’Urso side table for his living room, and a black olive tree that will be his first plant. While so many beautiful homes are the result of extensive renovations and expensive furnishings, this one shows the power of a lighter touch: one that reveals the innate beauty of a space – and the patience it takes to see it.