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Coastal Illusion

Classic blue-and-white décor, accented by pops of green and burnished metals, brings good cheer to a small city apartment.

Many older New York City apartments, cramped and light-starved, present a challenge to designers. Sometimes the best solution is to treat these spaces almost as theatrical sets, imposing a cheery theme to brighten the atmosphere. That’s the approach taken by the mother-daughter design team of Denyse and Missy Rinfret, who brought their Connecticut coastal style to this Lower West Side apartment.

Blue-and-white fabrics, rugs and porcelain provide a cheery Connecticut coastal feel in this small Manhattan apartment. Burnished gold and glass also help lighten the atmosphere.

The finished space looks like it might overlook the Long Island Sound, even if one of the windows faces nothing but a brick wall. Blue-and-white abounds here in gingham, ticking stripes, chinoiserie, trellis work, leopard print—accented by pops of green. It’s a classic color combination, made all the more casual and coastal by the Rinfrets’ devil-may-care mixing of patterns. (You can count five fabric patterns on the bed alone.) They modernized this palette by adding burnished gold and silver, which also help to lighten the mood. Walls were left plain white, with the exception of the entrance hall. Strongly patterned wallpaper is a tried-and-true solution in tiny rooms and tight passages, adding visual interest that somehow distracts the eye from the dimensions of the space.

Here the Rinfrets employed wallpaper with a blue geometric grid on a white ground, which magically lends structure and depth to an otherwise ordinary entrway. Mirrors, of course, are yet another means of making small spaces appear larger and dark spaces appear lighter. In the narrow master bedroom, mirrored surfaces are used high and low, on the furniture as well as on the walls. They contribute a lot to the pleasing illusion that green space and blue water are just steps away.

In the entryway (left), geometric wallpaper turns an ordinary space into something special. The narrow master bedroom is loaded with mirrored surfaces, on both walls and furniture, to make the room seem wider.

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