Justin and Monica fought constantly about how to decorate the living room of their Park Slope brownstone living room.

Justin is a devout Minimalist, espousing streamlined forms from the 1950s through ‘80s, few objects and white as the dominant color. He tried to convince Monica that they should strip out the heavy double framed moldings, chair rail and dado moldings on the walls, leaving the white, gray-veined marble fireplace intact against smooth, modern, unornamented walls.  

Monica would have none of it. She had lived in the apartment since her days as a design student at the Pratt Institute, where she had constantly asserted her love of classicism against the prevailing Bauhaus-inspired aesthetic. Monica knew that the architectural features of the apartment could remain as a grounded, serene shell for more provocative modern furniture, lighting and colors.  

The couple agreed to disagree, each partner conceding a few elements to the other. Leaving the moldings intact but not painting them a different shade, they painted walls and moldings alike in a single bright white, Sherwin Williams Snowbound.  

The next big decision to be made was the selection of a sofa. Monica longed for a traditional high-backed Knole-style sofa, a sofa whose arms would comfortably envelop the sitter. Justin was after a leaner Mad Men look. Together they settled on the tufted Taylor Sofa, with high back and arms. Its tufting satisfied the traditionalist in Monica, its boxy silhouette, Justin’s more fashion-conscious taste. 

He wanted to upholster the sofa in black or white, of course, but Monica fell in love with the concept of teal, a blend of her favorite colors of green and blue. She wanted velvet; he wanted canvas. Once again, they reached a happy compromise, choosing the tightly woven tiny check of Roxanne Raffia in Teal. The sofa constitutes a dramatic rectangle of bright, deep color against the bright white of the walls. 

Having triumphed in the matter of architectural setting and textile color, Monica let Justin accessorize. For the sofa he chose a throw pillow in elegant Louvre in black and gray. Instead of a single large traditional coffee table or ottoman, Justin picked four small Earth Tables in Made of unstained teak, the Earth Tables stand on rounded Atomic Age-inspired bronze legs, combining the organic and the industrial. 

For sconces to flank the fireplace, Justin chose the Japanese-inspired black Koge lamps. Above the fireplace Monica, an admirer of the abstract painter Ellsworth Kelly, hung a large, stark abstract in black and white that also pleased Justin.  

Once the living room was decorated, harmony in the relationship was restored, a harmony reflected by that of their new surroundings. 


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