Liz Lange’s NYC apartment is full of art and colorful inspiration
As an entrepreneurial fashion designer and New York native, it’s only natural that Liz Lange has a strong taste for interior design as well as a knack for optimizing urban spaces. You might recognize her as the woman who started Liz Lange Maternity, which revolutionized the industry in the 90s, or as the current owner of the iconic Gray Gardens estate in East Hampton. She is also the new mastermind behind the free-spirited brand Figue, and today she gives Beautiful house an exclusive look at the equally cheerful and daring antebellum Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan that she shares with her husband and children.
Working with decorator Todd A. Romano, architectural firm Ageloff & Associates, and builders John Hummel & Sons, Lange undertook a major renovation of the ground-floor apartment, making sweeping changes to suit her sense of style, as well as her family’s lifestyle. . “My specialty seems to be buying houses in perfect condition and then renovating them,” jokes Lange. “It was very pretty, but the previous family was bigger and although their bathrooms and kitchen and the general architecture were nice, we had our own ideas and tastes,” she adds. Lange knows what she likes and she’s not afraid to dive deep into it: unexpected color combinations, lots of hairspray and conversation-provoking artwork make for a confident appearance in every room.
Since they envisioned it as their family home and primary residence, the Langes really wanted to make it their own. When they first bought it, the house was a five-bedroom apartment, but they decided to convert one of the extras into Lange’s dressing room and the other into her husband’s home office. “We also knew that we would like to entertain, so we [dedicated] the front of the apartment for entertaining (the common rooms) and the back of the bedroom as a private space for the family (our bedrooms, etc.),” shares Lange, adding, “We were going for a family apartment very warm that would also settle well for more formal gatherings.”
Lange had a vision: “I knew from the start that I wanted ‘Dior’ gray lacquered walls in this room,” she says. “We started with that and from there the color palette pretty much defined itself.” Lange loves mixing fabrics and layers of colors, and yellow is one of her favorite colors to pair with gray. The curtains are pale blue silk, for a subtle accent color. She custom designed the lacquer box to serve as a pedestal for the antique palm tree, found in New York. “Roe Etheridge’s photo is a nod to the 70s (I love the 70s) – it was fun and unexpected in the piece,” Lange says.
“I knew I wanted a dining table with lots of leaves so it could expand to accommodate large family vacations and dinner parties,” the owner explains.
The kitchen isn’t large, but Lange wanted it to be as light and airy as possible despite the small footprint. “Rather than going pre-war in its aesthetic, we gutted it and got very clean and modern,” she says. She covered all the cabinets in white lacquer which has a clean effect without the hardware. The pendant lights are mid-century French.
In addition to wanting to create a comfortable and relaxed place to share meals, Lange’s main goal for the breakfast nook was to make it fun. She achieved this with vintage Bob Collins & Sons wallpaper, and the result looks like a playful little slice of Palm Beach on Park Avenue.
“I liked the idea of turquoise and black, hence the turquoise objects and the pair of lamps,” says Lange. “The giant light fixture is also mid-century modern by Carlos Puentes on 60th Street.”
“We lacquered all the doors in the apartment in glossy black (can you tell I like the gloss?) and chose a fun zebra rug to line this hallway,” Lange tells us. She likes to mix chocolate brown with red, so she incorporated the latter with frames that create a gallery. The hallway is filled with fun art and photos of our family. And Feldman’s 1960s lotus light fixtures add a vintage touch.
The walls are lacquered peacock blue and adorned with a collection of Richard Prince’s famous Instagram series, making this another brilliant case to go extra bright with some bold artwork. To balance out the statement walls, they also brought some drama to the ceiling, in the form of a brown marbled paper. “We live in this room,” she said. It’s moonlit like his makeshift office.
“With the wet rooms, because they’re so small, I always think more is more,” says Lange — we agree. They opted for contrasting wallpaper for the ceiling and repurposed a vintage plinth to create the sink base.
One of Lange’s favorite fabrics is Matisse d’Arbre de Quadrille, so she wanted to use it in the master bedroom to give the whole space a serene and peaceful backdrop. “We used it throughout in a soft combination of beige and white. I love how the Knoll chair contrasts with the more traditional vibe of this room,” she adds.
Questions and answers
Beautiful house: Please Detail the general characteristics of the house (age, style, location, square footage, number of beds/bathrooms, etc.).
Liz Lange: It includes four adjoining bathrooms plus a shower room. Additionally, there is an entrance hall, living room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, library and utility room.
HB: How was the house before? How did you pivot?
LL: I have very specific tastes and have never moved into a house that I haven’t fully renovated and decorated. The apartment was very beige and had lots of brown wood when we bought it and I prefer black or white lacquer colors and trim. Nothing wrong with that before just wasn’t “me”.
HB: How involved were you in the decorating process?
LL: I’ve been very involved in every detail alongside Todd because I have very strong opinions on anything and everything when it comes to style, whether it’s the clothes I design for my Figue brand or the houses I’m in. screw !
HB: How is it similar or different from other properties you have lived in?
LL: I think my taste is pretty consistent. My first apartment in 1998 was decorated by a then unknown Stephen Gambrel and much of what we did for this apartment reminds me of this one – I even kept and salvaged some of his furniture. This home features many of my favorite decorating details: high-gloss lacquer, brass trim, mid-century modern furnishings mixed with more classic antiques, and lots of bright colors!
HB: Where did most of the budget go?
LL: The budget was fairly evenly distributed between decoration, architecture and project management
I like to add less expensive furniture and accessories into the mix. I love hunting and have spent countless hours on sites like Chairish, 1stdibs, Etsy, eBay, One Kings Lane, Everything But the House and even Sotheby’s vintage site. I made some amazing finds. If Instagram had existed when we were doing this apartment, I would definitely have bought it too!
HB: How did you select the work?
LL: We were looking for artwork that we felt a) was great artwork on its own, b) was consistent with each other, and c) was in harmony with the apartment and its decor. We ultimately selected a number of pieces, including works by Christopher Wool, Richard Prince, Ricci Albenda, Vic Muniz and Roe Etheridge, among others.
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Hadley Mendelsohn is the design editor of House Beautiful and the co-host and executive producer of the Dark House podcast. When she’s not busy writing about interiors, you can find her browsing vintage stores, reading, researching ghost stories, or tripping because she’s probably lost her glasses again. In addition to home decor, she writes about everything from travel and entertainment to beauty, social issues, relationships, fashion, food and, on very special occasions, witches, ghosts and other Halloween hauntings. His work has also been published in MyDomaine, Who What Wear, Man Repeller, Matches Fashion, Byrdie, etc.