September 12, 2016

John Barman Brings Shades of Gray and Dramatic Splashes of Color to a Park Avenue Apartment

John Barman takes modern to new heights with a mix of Midcentury forms, bold color accents, and subtle shine.

by Deborah L. Martin interior designer John Barman, Inc. photographer Anastassios Mentis

SHADES OF GRAY

For a 5,000-square-foot Park Avenue apartment, designer John Barman wanted to refresh the rooms, keep it contemporary, but give the space an uber-luxurious feel. "The apartment was previously very modern, with concrete floors and lots of sharp edges. It felt outdated to me." Barman chose tones of gray as his base color, with dramatic splashes of color throughout, along with mirrored finishes and sculptural shapes. "I love color, but I was holding back a bit," says Barman. "I chose gray as opposed to beige because it feels more contemporary luxe, and vibrant colors look so beautiful against it."

The living room had no architectural focal point so Barman placed a curved, mirrored, midcentury-style screen behind the sofa. It floats against the windows and light pours in around it. "The apartment has almost too many windows, and no architectural moment like a fireplace to ground the room." Many of the pieces, such as the mirrored screen, are evocative of midcentury design, but are contemporary pieces that are scaled for modern life. The sconces in the living room provide reflected light up to the high-gloss ceiling, adding drama and height. The Karin Davie painting over the Holly Hunt sectional sofa adds dramatic color and movement, and the sculptural occasional table, also by Holly Hunt, echoes the painting's curvaceous lines.

The cobalt blue library is vibrant, with textural and graphic accents in the curly lamb-covered vintage chair and ottoman, the side table by Paul Ferrante, and the zebra-striped pillows in Hermès silk.
The cobalt blue library is vibrant, with textural and graphic accents in the curly lamb-covered vintage chair and ottoman, the side table by Paul Ferrante, and the zebra-striped pillows in Hermès silk.

In the dining room, Barman dropped and rounded the ceiling creating the illusion of a circular room, and then painted it a high-gloss yellow. The walls are slightly curved and that created a cozy corner niche holding a banquette designed by Barman. "I wanted to change the geometry in this room, adding architectural interest with a traditional round shape." Vintage Dunbar chairs upholstered in blue surround a custom metal-and-wood table, and the midcentury sideboard by Tommi Parzinger adds tailored flair. The vibrant colors from the contemporary art and sculptural objets are reflected in the ceiling above.

"Gray can become very dull if you don't introduce color." The designer chose a carefully mixed cobalt for the library. "Blues are difficult to get right because there is so much variation. I wanted a bright blue that didn't turn black at night." The overall aesthetic is contemporary, but not cold. "Contemporary today is not necessarily stark, it is much more luxe than it was 15 or 20 years ago." The designer continues, "The mix of midcentury and modern pieces, vibrant color and neutrals, metallics and warm woods, feels more modern today, and is the way people live."

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