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Era Conditioned

In a high-rise condo, it’s out with the mauve-and-teal ’80s vibe, in with creamy modern elegance

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”That wonderful blue Yves Klein coffee table is the star of the living room,“ says decorator Michael Richman.
“That wonderful blue Yves Klein coffee table is the star of the living room,” says decorator Michael Richman.
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When it comes to decorating their own homes,  interior decorator Michael Richman and his partner, art consultant Harrison Parker, have a problem. Every time they show off one of their chic little nests, someone wants to buy it. The place in these photos? Sold. Richman and Parker made the mistake of throwing a party, and one of their guests made an offer they couldn’t refuse.

They’re getting used to it. Five years ago they sold their Old Town townhouse so fast, they had to scramble madly to come up with somewhere else to live. Luckily, Richman’s business, Michael Richman Interiors, gave him some insight into what his next move should be. He actually fell into this 39th-floor, two-bedroom condo high above the Mag Mile when he was consulted on whether it could be rescued for resale from its unfortunate disco-era decor.

Richman took one look at the mauve and dark teal palette and the high-’80s-era pickled floors and decided that rather than give up his trade secrets, he’d buy it himself. In no time at all, he and Parker managed to exorcise the ghost of Donna Summer, introduce a range of creamy hues, and turn the place into an invitingly warm yet modern space.

Richman began by dreaming up a nuanced architectural plan for the apartment, with bold crown moldings topping off most of the rooms. He admits he had two purposes for designing such deeply grooved cornices, a style he calls “stepped-up Deco”: “I wanted to reference the Art Deco façade of the building. But frankly, the moldings also hide cracks.”

The kind of crack he’s talking about is not unusual in modern high-rises like this one, which can sway a little in heavy winds. The buildings are constructed to allow for some movement, which makes them structurally safer but also results in the occasional crack or gap between wall and ceiling—hence architectural trim as cover-up. Plus, these moldings are simply good-looking. “They’re not chintzy,” Parker says. “They’re substantial. I didn’t want to live in a white box.”

And let there be no doubt about it, Parker’s opinion mattered, too. He and Richman, both style obsessives, have very different tastes bridged (fortunately) by mutual respect. Parker says he appreciates Richman’s strong architectural background, his ability to pare down beauty to its essence. In turn, Richman loves Parker’s knack for what he terms “elegant luxury—not gilt or fussiness. Just good taste grounded in the classics.”

Both men’s strengths are on display throughout this 2,000-square-foot apartment, but their aesthetic rapport is best demonstrated by the Mies daybed in the living room. Not just another white leather incarnation of this iconic piece, it’s upholstered in a silk fabric that satisfied Parker’s need for luxe. “I find it so much softer and easier to live with than leather,” he says. 

“Some Mies devotees might not be so glad to see this chaise done in silk, but at the very least they’d be surprised,” Richman says. “Plus,” Parker adds, “this was about us, not about what anyone else thinks.”

 

Photography: Alan Shortall, Styling: Barri Leiner

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