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When Lisa Viergutz moved to Michigan during the height of the lockdown, she hadn’t planned on returning to New York City. But, of course, life had other plans. “After many months away, I just had this feeling it was time to get back,” recounts Viergutz, a primary therapist. Discovering a 30th-floor studio on the Upper West Side in a co-op building adjacent to Lincoln Center and overlooking the Hudson River felt like a sign from the universe. “The view was a game changer and helped make the decision to buy a lot easier,” she adds. Viergutz was confident that with a little help, she could easily bring the apartment back to life.
When she enlisted New York City–based interior designer Hugh Long of Quality Control Studio, to whom she was introduced by a mutual friend, she had already dreamed up what she wanted, which, as she recalls, was “something bright, colorful, feminine, and happy.” As someone who works from home and loves to entertain, it was important to her to have a space that could transition from coffee breaks to cocktail hour. But given the apartment’s tiny footprint (it’s all of 500 square feet), it made sense for form to follow function.
Because Viergutz’s vision was big and the budget was not, Long had to find a way to section off the space without making any structural changes. And so he did, with color. First, he gave the walls, ceiling, and trim a coat of After the Rain by Benjamin Moore, a soft lavender that lets the colors in the foreground shine. Then he brightened each area in a different hue, elevating the lounge with a yellow sofa, refreshing the dining chairs in a soothing shade of mint, and enveloping the bed in a raspberry pink linen surround (Viergutz’s favorite feature of all). The cozy corner was a particular labor of love. To make it look seamless but also easy to set up, Long designed it in three parts, with one large central panel and two small side panels. “Lisa loves pink, but we didn’t want the space to feel too juvenile. The berry tone felt fun but still mature,” Long says.
To maximize the amount of usable seating, he placed the sofa along the window wall, creating enough room for a lounge chair to the side and stools at the foot of the bed, which move around to suit the occasion. Need an ottoman to rest your feet on? You have it. Need an extra seat around the coffee table? Done. To blend the living and sleeping zones together, he used an oversize custom Beni Ourain rug from Morocco, but it also had another effect: It made the room feel larger (he believes multiple rugs can shrink a room). “Zoning the space for peak functionality and still making it look chic was a bit of a puzzle, but we achieved everything we set out to,” says Long.
The intent was for the decor to be colorful, yes, but also sophisticated, a little bit like Viergutz herself. “Lisa has a casual, relaxed air about her, but she also has great personal style. We had many reference points, but one of the main sources of inspiration was Milanese design from the 1930s,” notes Long, who paired furniture, lighting, and accessories—all vintage—with contemporary pieces by designers such as Jake Syzmanski and Lichen.
The project was also steeped in nostalgia. One vintage novelty, in particular, evoked an elusive memory in Viergutz—one she couldn’t quite place until the renovation was almost complete. “Lisa kept telling me the pink Swedish pendant light in the dining area felt familiar, and I assumed she had just seen a similar type of fixture in the past,” recalls Long. It wasn’t until they installed the light that she realized that her grandparents had had one just like it in their house when she was growing up. “It’s funny how certain pieces find their way into a project and to a person. It was total kismet,” he shares.