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Baby Makes 3, and an Adventurous Renovation

A bold approach to decorating a classic prewar, done in record time for an expecting couple.

Who doesn’t want to cuddle up in a shearling chair? Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
Who doesn’t want to cuddle up in a shearling chair? Photo: Genevieve Garruppo

For designer Zach Motl, the third time’s the charm with clients Jordan Fox and Carly Tichner. Motl was initially asked by Fox to do his bachelor pad in the East Village after he saw Motl’s own studio apartment featured in the New York Times “Home & Garden” section in 2010. Next up came the larger rental with his soon-to-be wife, Carly. And now the couple is settling down as homeowners with a new baby. Repeat clients are the dream for any decorator, and this relationship is particularly sweet, as Fox is happy to have Motl lead the charge to “push me aesthetically,” he says. “He’s bolder than I am and has exceptionally good taste. We’ve built that trust up over many years.” No surprise, as Motl earned his chops working for the crème de la crème in his field — Miles Redd, Robert Couturier, and Ralph Lauren — and ultimately setting up his own shop in 2011. This time around there was also a sense of urgency: “They had a strict timeline — they were expecting their first child!” says Motl. The work started in October 2016, with a pause for new parents, then the project resumed and finished in the fall of 2017.

In the baby’s room, above, there are two shearling chairs. The larger one is from Commune for West Elm, and the little one is from Pottery Barn Kids.

The prewar two-bedroom, two-bath with living and dining rooms and separate kitchen as they found it before work began. Photo: Courtesy of Zach Motl
“We reconfigured the entry, carving out more closet space,” Motl says of the dashing redo that included a black-and-white-striped tile floor that acts like a runner. The paint is Jet Black from Fine Paints of Europe. “I wanted to create a glam, old, moody city apartment,” Motl says. “Kid-friendly, but not too kid-friendly.” Note that Motl kept the wonderful original glass doorknobs and reframed the entrance to the living room. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The view into the dining room pre-renovation. Photo: Courtesy of Zach Motl
The dining room today sports the Palm Jungle wall covering from Cole & Son, a vintage Milo Baughman dining table under a Jonathan Adler chandelier, and dining chairs with vintage Brunschwig et Fils upholstery. “One of my favorite things about working with them,” Motl says of his clients, “is reinventing pieces that we have purchased together. Seeing them move from one space to the next and reinvent themselves in a way.” Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The living room had quiet potential but begged for attention. Photo: Courtesy of Zach Motl
The big dive here for Fox was the leopard-print floor covering. “I was initially very uncomfortable with the idea of an animal-print rug in our living room,” Fox says. “But Zach and Carly tag-teamed me, and of course I relented. Now I love it. It makes the room!” The rose sofa is from Room & Board, the white curved sofa is vintage, and the vintage slipper chair is reupholstered in Scalamandre fabric. The swing wall lamps are from Ralph Lauren Home, and the curtain fabric is Pierre Frey. The hanging light fixture is Serge Mouille from France and Son. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The kitchen was from another time, with a familiar urban Rear Window view. Photo: Courtesy of Zach Motl
Motl worked with contractor Tony Tichner of Sherri Builders, who also happens to be Carly’s father. “He was the GC,” Motl says, “and supervised all paint, electrical, flooring, and millwork.” Tichner found the kitchen cabinets at Home Depot and blended them into the mix of the updated appliances. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The master bedroom is swathed in Wild Mulberry paint from Benjamin Moore. “The real collaboration was between Carly and Zach, and for the most part I was just a happy beneficiary,” Fox says. “We’re so happy in our home and would basically only move to create the opportunity to work with Zach again.” Photo: Genevieve Garruppo

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