<p>A custom sofa upholstered in a Rogers & Goffigon wool multiplies the seating capacity in this Manhattan living room. Donzella slipper chair and sofa pillow in Lee Jofa's Ayla Trellis. Vintage Edward Wormley chairs in Le Zebre and curtains in Chevron Bar Silk Warp Print, both by Brunschwig & Fils. Restoration Hardware dining chairs in Groves Bros. Fabrics' Shaka. Carrier and Company's Waterlilies rug, Studio Four NYC. Wallcovering, Nobilis. Modo chandelier by Roll & Hill.</p>
Eric Piasecki

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CHRISTINE PITTEL: Wow. There's nothing old-fashioned about this New York apartment. You've taken traditional, pretty, colorful decorating and given it a new edge.

KATIE RIDDER: It's a spectacular space — a new condo in an old warehouse building in the West Village. The front door opens into a normal entry and then you step into a huge, double-height living room. It feels like a loft, and the young couple who live here wanted something urban and modern.

What does that mean to you?

Well, I didn't show them anything floral. Actually, I did manage to slip in a few, but they had to be graphic. No faded English chintz. And they wanted a restricted color palette.

You call this restricted?

The living room is basically blues, with hits of red.

And also green, yellow, orange, chocolate brown, gold…

You know me, with all my color and pattern. I think this room is fairly neutral, but I realize that nobody else would probably feel that way.

I love a soaring space, but all those towering walls can be daunting.

I was handed a big white box, and it was definitely a challenge. My idea was to use color and texture to warm up the volume and bring it down to a more human scale. I happen to love wallpaper, but I knew the clients would never go for a conventional pattern. Then I was looking through Tom Scheerer's book and spotted this faux-bois paper and thought, That's it! It looks like whitewashed oak, so it reads more as Jean-Michel Frank than 1950s rec room. It's an updated take on a traditional paneled room, and it adds great visual texture to all those blank Sheetrock walls.

<p>The embroidered purple pillow is a vintage find.</p>
Eric Piasecki

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Was that where you started?

Not exactly. I think about a color palette first. Then, when I scheme, I usually begin with the carpet. I had been asked to do a line of rugs for Studio Four along with several other designers. We were all there, working on our patterns, when I saw what Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller had designed. It was a flat-woven carpet in an unusual turquoise shade, with a bigger, looser scale that was appropriate for this space. It has the same rhythmic fluidity as an ikat, but the pattern is more graphic and modern, so I knew my clients would like it. It looks young, not old. Then for the curtains I chose another strong pattern — a chevron — but at a different scale than the carpet so they don't fight each other. It's also blue, but in a shade with more green in it. So the blues don't match. Those days are gone.

How did you make a tufted sofa look hip?

Powder-blue upholstery certainly helps, and also the fact that it's an L shape. I wanted as much seating as I could get in that corner, to define the living area. There's a big, open kitchen at the other end of the room, and the clients also wanted a dining area, a bar area, and a large TV. The furniture plan had to work for multiple functions, so the chairs are light enough to move around. The sofa, as the biggest piece, is a good place to use a solid color. Then you can vary the mood with different pillows, if you want a change.

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<p>The walls in the master bedroom were covered in Phillip Jeffries's Manila Hemp and then stenciled with abstract trees, designed by Ridder and executed by the Chuck Hettinger Studio, Inc. Bedside table by Chelsea Editions. Reading light by Ann-Morris, Inc.</p>
Eric Piasecki

That large, lofty master bedroom feels intimate — what's your trick?

Grass cloth, in the same blue-green palette, warms up the walls. Then I looked through one of those Dover books on design, picked out a pattern and modified it, and gave it to my decorative painter to make a stencil. He taped up a template on the walls so we could see where we might need more height or more width, before he started painting. It adds an organic element. And then the canopy bed — all line, no curtains — creates a room within the room.

Red reappears with a wallop in the study. How did you ever get that through?

Again, it started with the carpet, which has some blue in it so the room doesn't look like a total non sequitur. And then the architecture was a bit awkward, with an odd display niche, so it made sense to paint it all one color to blot that out. Deep red is a natural complement to blue — this mulberry red has some blue in it. But basically it's all intuitive. Color makes me happy, and even if I start out with neutrals, somehow these luscious colors just creep in!

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More About Katie

Home base: New York City

Firmed founded: 1995

Instagram: 

Former life: A CQ editor

What's your design credo, in three words? Personal, practical, colorful.

Color you use a lot: . It's great for trim against Moroccan tiles, because it's a white with a bit of soft gray pigment in it.

Trademark rules: Bedside tables should be the same height as the mattress, not taller! And if you're using mismatched tables on either end of a sofa, make sure the lamps are the same height.

Secret source: in New York. They can turn things like centuries-old tapestries from Uzbekistan into beautiful pillows nobody else has.

So worth it: A really comfortable handmade bed from .

Favorite design book: Any of Alberto Pinto's books on decorating. He has a flair for the exotic and great color sense, but his eye is very refined and sophisticated.

Go-to flower: I love dahlias in summer and fall, especially the ones from in New Jersey. They have been cultivating heirloom dahlias for more than 100 years.

Fave retail sources: , and for children's rooms.

How do you talk to men about pink and lavender? First we convince the wife, then we tell the husband it's a nice complement to his art.

Best tip from your architect husband? So many! Like adding mirrors to window jambs — it vastly increases light in a room.

See more photos of this gorgeous home here »

This story originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of CQ.

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