Joan Enger, one of our favorite up and coming designers, is always up for a challenge! When a client turned to her after a major falling out with his previous designer, she was prepared to work on a compressed timeline to get the space back in shape. But, when she walked into the 1,500-square-foot apartment she was in for a surprise: The bachelor in question barely had any furniture to call his own.
The room had nothing,” Enger says, speaking of the living room. “There was just a desk from college, a TV mounted on the wall — of course — and he was literally sitting on folding chairs. The client just said: ‘I really need help.’ There was nothing that felt furnished.”
While this wasn’t great for the client’s day-to-day life, the lack of furniture was actually a blessing for Enger from a design standpoint. “It’s harder when you have items in the space, because you have to work around it, making it more difficult to have a clear design decision,” she says.
From there, Enger embarked on the 6-month project with a goal of fulfilling her client’s dream for a comfortable, home-like space that welcomed guests.
In the entryway, chic grasscloth walls create a warm, inviting feel that immediately sets the tone for the space. To convince her reluctant client, Enger showed increasingly bigger swatches of grasscloth so he could visualize how it would look, as she brought in the other pieces in the entryway — like the sleek black leather bench that the client immediately fell in love with, and the almost camouflage print rug. Eventually, the client came around about the grasscloth. “He ended up emailing me later — which never happens — and said how much he loves the wallcovering,” she says. “It totally changed the space, which needed that compression instead of all of a sudden walking in and seeing all the white space and windows.”
Always ready for a cocktail, we at Viyet fell in love with this chic brushed aluminum bar that was custom made to fit the space. “The bar was literally designed from scratch,” Enger says, “We imparted a little warmth with rosewood inlays, so it doesn’t feel like a big metal block.”
“The navy lacquered walls in the den were there when we arrived, but we loved them!” Enger says. “This room in particular is such a cozy, inviting space. A very ‘chic’ man cave!”
Another pre-existing piece? The sofa. Though it had great lines, the original cushions were 100% down, which required constant re-fluffing. Worse, though, they were incredibly uncomfortable. Instead of getting rid of the sofa, Enger had down-over-foam cushions fabricated in a sleek bench style. Rani Arabelle cashmere and leather pillows brought additional comfort to the sofa.
The textural differences between the vintage chair, almost-industrial coffee table and the luxuriously soft linen-wool woven wall-to-wall carpeting is what make a huge difference in the room.
“I always tell people when they ask what makes a successful room — it’s texture,” Enger says. “I don’t need a ton of pattern, but I definitely love mixing materials and textures. It needs a balance. Here, there’s lacquer, metal, upholstery.”
This unique shelving unit, which also involved the help of a metal worker to ensure stability, is one of the many pieces built custom. Partnering with workrooms is one of the ways Enger was able to get the design done so quickly. If you’re in a similar hurry to get your space done, Viyet has a selection of benchmade furnishings in addition to pieces from top showrooms.
“The client specified black-and-white art — no color,” Enger says. They chose the work of Los Angeles-based photographer Anastasia Petukhova, grouping four framed prints together to create a bold look.
Though the client definitely had a firm idea of what he liked, the design process was a harmonious one. According to Enger, this is how the process often goes between a client and designer. “In the beginning, it was more pushback but then they see one good piece go in — they exhale and the trust builds,” she says.
The apartment boasts a wall of curved windows. Though undeniably gorgeous, they do present a challenge from a décor perspective. “The curved wall felt a bit unfinished,” Enger says. “We knew that we wanted to include some type of seating in this area to appreciate the view, but it needed to be super sleek. I scored this low slung vintage Milo Baughman chaise at auction — it was the perfect solution and played into the curves perfectly.”
The upholstered wall, along with the bed and end tables, came with the project. Building on the cozy, Enger selected a grey and cream modern wall-to-wall carpet. A vintage chair, reupholstered in a Christopher Hyland plum linen velvet, provides a pop of color in the neutral space.
Overall, the makeover was a huge success — the client raved about how the apartment felt like an environment he could truly feel at home in. If you’re looking to get a similar feel in your home, the easiest starting point is a dramatic color, like the bold lacquered navy wall in this home. A strong color will give the room character while helping your art, photos and furnishings stand out more. Of course, if you’re looking for a similar mix of high-end, vintage and benchmade furnishings made Enger’s makeover so amazing, visit Viyet.