How This Room Was Inspired by a Classic Song

Armed with the anthem “La Vie en Rose,” one designer turned a New York City living room into a Parisian respite.

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Joshua McHugh

“I must have played that song a thousand times in the process of conceptualizing this space,” says Manhattan designer Alyssa Kapito of Édith Piaf’s iconic 1945 French tune, “La Vie en Rose.” She channeled it into a Parisian palette of warm ivories and pale pinks for a client’s New York City living room. The lyrics practically take you on a spring stroll along the Seine:

When he takes me in his arms, he speaks to me in a whisper. I see life through rose-colored glasses.

He tells me words of love, everyday words, and they do something to me.

He has put a bit of happiness, of which I know the cause, into my heart.

It’s him for me, me for him, for life. He told me, he swore to me, for life.

And, as soon as I see him, I feel my heart beating inside of me.

Kapito turned to eclectic sources to give the room a layered feel with lots of unexpected contrast. Wrought- iron and burnished-steel pieces nod to Paris’s Belle Epoque metalwork, while furnishings by French designers, such as Jean-Michel Frank and Jacques Jarrige, add depth. And then there are the whimsical elements—like a repeating squiggle motif—that evoke the lighthearted, catchy melody of the song. “It’s kind of my dream room,” Kapito says. “There’s a simplicity to it, despite the mix of materials, and it’s happy and playful.”

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1 Il me dit des mots d’amour, des mots de tous les jours, et ça m’fait quelque chose.
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Joshua McHugh

A mix of textures adds to the romance. The sofa is upholstered in shearling, an unexpectedly cozy choice, and a sisal rug introduces an organic element—picture wicker baskets clustered at a Parisian food-and-flea market.

2 Il est entré dans mon coeur, une part de bonheur, dont je connais la cause.
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Joshua McHugh

The oversize squiggles of a pair of torchère floor lamps, which Kapito found at an antiques shop in Paris, are echoed in the coils etched into a mirror above the mantel.

3 C’est lui pour moi, moi pour lui, dans la vie. Il me l’a dit, l’a jure pour la vie.
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Joshua McHugh

A white plaster chandelier by Brooklyn designer Stephen Antonson pays homage to the preferred sculpture medium of 20th-century masters from Giacometti to Jean-Michel Frank: plaster of Paris, named for the stores of gypsum outside Paris used to make it.

4 Quand il me prend dans ses bras, il me parle tout bas. Je vois la vie en rose.
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Joshua McHugh

To balance out more playful elements, Kapito included references to Paris’s 19th-century metal architecture (like the Eiffel Tower). Steel coffee table, Corbin Cruise.

5 Et, dès que je l’aperçois, alors je sense en moi, mon coeur qui bat.
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Joshua McHugh

“Nothing in the room takes itself too seriously,” Kapito says. She paired classical moldings and a restrained color palette with cheeky details, including these black-lacquered Jacques Jarrige stools that look a lot like teeth.

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