Designer Eclectic Co-op in Manhattan
Interior designer Joshua Greene has been a style reporter for Women’s Wear Daily (and even had his own line of men’s shirts!) Before attending a motivational summer-long architectural program at Harvard — but the style universe has always fascinated him. A boyhood fascination with Legos needed him producing site plans and versions (“landscaped homes, down to their own ventilated driveways,” he states). And Greene has fond memories of accompanying his mother, who “ran a little design company back into the ’80s,” to job websites, workrooms, upholsterers and furniture refinishers in and about San Marino, California, the architecturally rich city where he grew up.
After understanding his true calling, he set down his reporter’s pen and embarked on a career designing interiors and writing a design blog, Shagreene. Adhering to Work with MR Architecture + Decor for David Mann, a long stint as a decorative project supervisor at Ralph Lauren and also a Few positions in between, he is since landed at Sawyer/Berson, an architectural firm in Nyc.
His private and decorating fashion, what he calls a “balanced restraint — an organized and simple variety of textures, colors and styles without a catchy thrown in,” is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the makeup of his former one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
at a Glance
Who lived here: Joshua Greene
Location: New York City
Size: 750 square feet
In 750 square feet and located on the upper floor of a 1938 art deco edifice, Greene’s bachelor co-op was pretty large by town standards — it even had an extra foot of ceiling height, a sunken living room plus a “little entry hallway that contributed to a feeling of discovery,” he states. He enjoyed it from the start, save for a few cosmetic concerns. “It looked like the collection of Three’s Company,” Greene says. “It hadn’t been touched since the ’70s. Wall-to-wall green shag carpet covered the floors.”
While Greene loved his flat’s deco bones and prewar details, he needed to station the new millennium. He replaced all of the base and crown molding before moving in (“an affordable way to generate everything much nicer,” he says) and hauled out the awful carpet. Providentially, the co-op’s original white-pine flooring were still intact. Greene coated them with a dark blot, adding a feeling of grandeur, and coated the living room walls using Anya Larkin silvery-gray grass fabric (“frequently too warm or cold, but this was perfect,” he states). From there, Greene simply assembled on his growing collection of art, some existing furniture and Donghia’s bright Spice Market cloth for floor-to-ceiling draperies.
Greene made the antique-brass java table (flanked by a set of ’70s barrel-backed slipper chairs covered in a woven chevron pattern from Dessin Fournir’s Classic Cloth collection). He enlisted a correspondence cutter normally hired to make Ralph Lauren stores’ signage to assemble it. “He awakened the end, and it is a very sturdy piece,” Greene says.
And what about the magnificent blue-green abstract oil painting over the sofa? It is one of the most treasured pieces, though he doesn’t know who the artist is. “I treat it like a Picasso! Right now it is being washed and reframed.”
The red lacquer reproduction altar tables that frame the Edward Wormley–fashion tufted sofa (a bit Greene bought while in college) are topped with a set of bronze lamps that he seen in Paul Donzella’s 20th-century antiques gallery.
The charming life with dogwood branches was gifted to Greene by the co-op’s previous owner: “Her husband was a painter; I just had it reframed,” he states.
Opposite the sofa is a large, black regency-era breakfront with gold-green hand-painted detailing. In it, Greene saved china, books — even his television.
Greene snapped up the side seat with nailhead trim on a vintage shopping excursion in Palm Springs, California. (“My parents now live there, so I’m always seeing,” he states.) Greene had it reupholstered in Moore & Giles leather. A turquoise overdyed wool rug, handwoven in India and bought at ABC Carpet & Home, grounds the area.
The dining room alcove, repainted in Ralph Lauren Home’s grayish Hopsack, came as is, replete with a built-in arched niche perfect for showing Greene’s priceless pair of Chinese Han Dynasty amphoras.
The art deco chandelier has been stealthily obtained at the Paris flea market, as Greene was in town just temporarily. “Since my bags never came, I just carried it on the plane. It came out of an old flat in Saint-Germain-des-Prés,” he states.
At 36 inches including its foliage, “the deco table was hard to locate,” he recalls, “but it totally fit in the area.” The chairs (from the exact same era) were different finds. A Roman shade constructed of Rogers & Goffigon Gasoline sheer-linen cloth sets a masculine tone.
The kitchen received a new refrigerator and stove, but Greene did not have the funds to take on a major overhaul; modifications here remained largely cosmetic.
Because the kitchen has been on the smallish side, he eliminated upper cabinet doors and picked an open-storage program for his everyday dishware. “I sanded and repainted everything, including the tile backsplash,” he states. Green used Ralph Lauren Home’s turquoise Emperor on the walls and cabinetry, and swapped out existing hardware for Restoration Hardware pulls in dark brass.
Thankfully, Greene did not need to tackle pipes problems. He preserved the bathroom’s existing bathtub and laid 1-inch by 1-inch Davlin gold foliage tiles by Ann Sacks side by side across the whole floor, creating a glistening luxuriousness from the most unlikely of locations. “Everyone constantly went mad for those stunning tiles,” he states.
About the walls, Greene piled buttery, 16-inch by 16-inch Thassos marble tiles by Ann Sacks “to an ultraclean appearance that goes all of the way around the ceiling,” he states.
Although sleeping quarters were ample, the flat’s previous layout hadn’t accommodated much storage area, and also a home office has been nonexistent. So Greene made an ingenious built in system spanning the length of the bedroom way wall, around the room’s just windows, with multiple functions in mind.
Not only did it include a desk, maintaining Greene’s documents out of perspective and housing his computer printer, but the unit was a near seamless integration, he states, “even though it surrounded the window and the room’s thickness diminished by 18 inches.” A Thomas O’Brien little Hicks pendant anchors the scene.
Above Greene’s Room & Board walnut bed (no more in production) hangs a precious charcoal naked by the designer’s friend Fedele Spadafora. The extra-long striped pillow is by Ralph Lauren Home.
Facing the bed sits a midcentury Danish hutch full of Greene’s private accoutrements. “It was the first major piece of furniture I bought,” he states.
Greene has sold this Chelsea apartment in a move he calls bittersweet. His transition into a smaller one-bedroom in neighboring Greenwich Village has roused him to embark on another decorating trip.
“This time I will be renovating the kitchen and toilet and making the space much more modern and streamlined,” he states. He insists his new digs will still keep his style sensibilities, but his trademark integration of pattern and texture will be subtler. His influences this go-round? “I have been inspired by Richard Meier’s boldness and projects by the Shelton Mindel firm.”
So, what’s next for Greene? Perhaps he’ll find the chance to work with a musician, something he’s always wanted to do. “I’m also inspired by music,” he states. “A singer probably has an intriguing procedure.”
Pictures by Adam Macchia