A Hollywood executive was relocating from a sizable Colonial in Los Angeles to a duplex co-op on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. “Before I move,” the woman, who works in the entertainment business, told New York-based decorator Garrow Kedigian, “I want you to come to L.A. to get a sense of what I love.” Kedigian flew across the country to discover a home that, while filled with antiques and traditional decor, felt relaxed and almost contemporary in spirit, with rooms washed in that inimitable Southern California sunlight.
Meanwhile, he got to know his new client better. “She is very, very stylish and totally into design,” he says. “She is open to radical concepts.” For her part, the woman appreciated Kedigian’s willingness to embrace the furniture and objects she had collected for years. “He didn’t say, ‘Let’s start from scratch,’” she says. “He took the time to understand me.”
Still, she initially balked when Kedigian revealed his plan for renovating her new apartment on New York’s Museum Mile. “The space was huge, about 5,000 square feet, but the way the rooms were configured, it didn’t feel that large,” he says. “On the lower level, there were a series of dark rooms, including a very formal dining room, a library with a window facing a courtyard, and a kitchen segmented into three narrow spaces.” Kedigian proposed a “dramatic renovation”: The library would become the dining room, and the dining room would in turn become a family room adjacent to an expansive new kitchen. What’s more, he planned to raise the height of every doorway on the lower level by two feet and commission a set of handmade mahogany doors.
“At first, she was taken aback,” he says. “She and her husband had bought the apartment in great condition and weren’t expecting such a big project.” The payoff, he told them, would be rooms that felt connected and brighter.
Trained as an architect, Kedigian begins every interior design project by tweaking a home’s envelope. “I never decorate a space before shaping the architecture first, because my approach to design is holistic,” he says. “Whether it’s moldings or the sofa and rug, everything needs to work together as one.” In this prewar space, he retained but pared back the original cornice and swapped an ornate mantel for a more contemporary one. Floors were stained a walnut hue, while a “fuddy-duddy” stair rail was replaced with a sleeker version inspired by socialite Dita Blair’s in Washington, D.C.
Next came color. “She loves blue,” says Kedigian, who devised a palette ranging from the powder blue of the living room (which reappears in the entry hall and on various ceilings throughout the first floor) to the mirror-finish night-sky walls in the new dining room. “In the evening, with the chandelier and sconces lit, the room sparkles,” he says. For the homeowner, the resulting mix of formality and ease, together with a livable new layout, strikes the perfect balance. “It’s an apartment,” she says, “that feels like a real house — elegant without being too grown-up!”
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This story originally appeared in the December/January 2018 issue of CQ.