A Mid-Century Modern Jewelbox on the Upper East Side

A Mid-Century Modern Jewelbox on the Upper East Side

A Mid-Century Modern Jewelbox on the Upper East Side


Designer Deanna Dewey helped her client's many talents (and impeccable taste) shine in this eclectic Upper East Side apartment.

Photos by Genevieve Garruppo

When you’re a best-selling author, sommelier, former flamenco dancer, and a world traveler who can speak six languages, your living space has to rise to a certain level.

But, as we all know, it can be very easy to put blinders up when it comes to our own home. After an old friend mentioned that the apartment was looking “shabby and tired” (yikes), this multi-faceted client reached out to Homepolish designer, Deanna Dewey, to create a space that reflected her personality.

“I offered all kinds of ideas to spruce up what she currently had, but two weeks in, she decided on a complete overhaul,” says Deanna. “So I designed a space that has warmth and elegance. We decided to go for a beautiful Mid-Century Modern look and a palette of blues, greys, purples, and black.”

Starting with the entryway, each room is a study in balance. The foyer’s shaded silk wallpaper offers a subtle hit of color and wows with texture. Finished with an antique Venetian mirror, the contrast elevates the space. To keep the vibe from feeling overly fussy, the raw edges and smooth finish of the reclaimed olive wood floating shelf, bench, and coat rack, made by Brian Trudeau of Trudeau Furniture, lend an organic air to the space. Guests walk into a sophisticated-meets-rustic space that balances colors and textures as well as the tenant balances her many skills.

“The project became a blend of what my client loved, what she needed, and what got us both excited,” Deanna explains. “We worked together to find pieces that evoked each style from a sea of vendors; every item and decision was another piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, it was really about what she loved—and keeping the overall design aesthetic in mind.”

With the goal of a Mid-Century Modern jewel box in mind, Deanna and the client worked tirelessly to source unique vintage and contemporary pieces, plus unique art for each room. Using designer Jean Royere as inspiration, they found some of his original Italian Mid-Century sconces and decided to use them as the dining room’s foundation. The lighting choice offered a rich time period to draw from when selecting furnishings, like the show-stopping bar.

For Deanna, the bold choices are just part of the fun.

“Design around what you love, and keep all the pieces symbiotic with the overall aesthetic—and don’t be afraid to push yourself to add pieces you may think are too far out of the box,” Deanna encourages. “I almost didn’t show my client the bar that I selected. But it ended up being the piece that excited her the most,” Deanna admits. “It reinforced my belief that designers should take chances and go bold.”

The living room feels especially luxe, with the home’s signature mixture of rich textures (velvet sofas) and the clean lines (the glass and warm brass coffee and side tables) on full display. While 1stdibs was the conduit to many of the larger vintage pieces, Deanna and her client dug in local antique stores too. The table lamps we found in nearby Carnegie Hill.

“I recommend being adventurous when shopping for vintage or antiques. Go into those overly cluttered shops, and take your time looking in all the corners. And don’t forget to double back because you’ll always find something that you walked right past the first time through,” Deanna advises. “Each piece we found or created became a new treasure—carefully sourced items she could truly be excited about and fall in love with even more over time.”

And don’t be afraid to reimagine those treasures. Deanna discovered Italian Mid-Century chandeliers and then worked with an electrician to convert them into plug-in pendant lights with a step switch. They paired perfectly with the simple and serene look of the client’s desk and office space.

With the living room and dining room full of striking color and texture, the bedroom needed to feel calm. The clean lines of the canopy bed, side tables, and vanity add an elegant simplicity to the room. Even the artwork by Gee Gee Collins offers minimal silhouettes in black and white compared to the colorful abstract art in the rest of the apartment.

“Having a client that was so game to push the boundaries and was so committed to creating a bold and beautiful space, allowed me to bring a special energy to this project,” Deanna says. “You can see that in the rooms I designed. It didn’t hurt that my client-sommelier always chose the perfect wine to go with the space!”

Pairing wine with a design project? We’ll cheers to that.

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