Like so many other New York apartments, designer Lilse McKenna’s former Greenwich Village one-bedroom began as a basic white box. But it was a high-ceilinged white box, and newly renovated too—save a carved mantelpiece original to the early-20th-century building. “The detailing on that mantel was one of the pieces that sold us on the apartment,” says Lilse; she and her husband signed on the spot.
Luckily, the designer—who launched her eponymous firm after stints with Lindsay Coral Harper and Markham Roberts—was the perfect tenant for such a space: The blank backdrop let Lilse fully indulge her penchant for pattern and color. It’s a skill she picked up from a former boss. “I was definitely influenced by [Markham’s] use of pattern and layering, especially layering fabrics from all different styles and genres,” says Lilse.
Meanwhile, the lack of a dedicated dining area forced Lilse, an avid entertainer, to get creative with the layout—and with storage solutions. “We keep a folding table under our bed, and we keep the linens under the skirted table,” she says. “We’ve made it work!”
Although Lilse and her husband recently relocated to Brooklyn, the designer looks back fondly on her pattern-happy Manhattan home—and doesn’t regret all the work (and wallpaper) she put into it. “Each apartment I rent in New York is kind of like its own little show house,” she says. “At least it’s up for longer than a season and I get to enjoy it!”
My entire look veers toward lived-in and collected.
Each apartment I rent in New York is like its own little show house. At least it’s up for longer than a season and I get to enjoy it!
I like things that are a little bit worn looking and roughed up, mixed in with something new to bring it down a notch and make it more livable.