Home Tour: A New York Stylist's Cool Contemporary Home
Born and raised in New York City, Sara Cooper is a fashion and wardrobe stylist (and a longtime friend of mine). She’s got a fantastic eye—and a résumé to back it up! After graduating from Cornell University with a major in Textile and Apparel Design, she did visuals and styling for trendy New York shop Intermix for five years, before venturing out on her own to become a freelance stylist.
A few months ago, she posted a photo of her dining room on Instagram, and I was so enamoured with her tufted banquette that I asked if I could shoot her apartment. “When it’s done,” she promised. Sara is a new mum to baby Axel, and she designed the space from scratch herself. The inspiration for the apartment was a bit of old Hollywood, a dash of Miami art deco, and a touch of pre-war Upper East Side charm. She mixes classic features, like herringbone and moldings, with rock-‘n’-roll elements, like brass, rad art, vintage lighting, and modern classics. I think her place is cool Upper East Side, New York at its finest—a perfect pad for a fashionable young family!
Keep scrolling for the full tour!
"We bought the apartment as an estate, and I was so excited to have the opportunity to design our family's first home from top to bottom,” she tells me. "Nothing was left untouched in its original condition. From floors to walls to ceilings—the layout, bathrooms, kitchen, and everything in between—we renovated it all to our own specifications and liking. It was challenging at times but such a fun process and great learning experience."
"I wanted to keep the bones classic and incorporate a warmth and comfort like herringbone floors with dental moulding and ceiling beams,” she says. “A lot of the details and décor—like the gold knobs and hinges—are black and white, mixed metal, and textured wood.”
"I really wanted the main space to feel lofty and open. This is our first home, and it was important to me that we could spend time here and feel together within in the space.”
A few years ago, Sara was just about to paint the walls grey with a white picture moulding, when Ari, a close friend and founder of design and development firm ASH NYC, came over and insisted she keep them white. “I was so thankful that he came over before the walls had been painted (and they were just prepped white),” she says. “We decided it looked so fresh and modern and to keep them all white.”
The furniture is really a mix of custom and vintage pieces. Cooper designed the burl wood and Plexiglass buffet. The Bruton drums are from her mum and are over 30 years old. She paired the Knoll chairs with a Milo Baughman chair she found at 1stdibs and had redone with glitter upholstery.
“An art collection is obviously a life-long work in progress but we wanted the pieces we added here to be funky and quirky, like our Marilyn Minter, Damien Hirst, and the piece by graffiti artist Jason Woodside we commissioned,” she says. “It turns out all the bright colours bring endless entertainment to our baby as well.”
Sara claims there is no real theme to Axel’s room, but I disagree! It’s soothing, and she’s started her son out with quite a cute little art collection of his own. I love the bold retro oversize floral couch, the Keith Haring skateboard decks above the crib, the bunny lamp from Clic Gallery in SoHo, and the Yoshitomo Nara poster.
The little hall space between the bedrooms and the living areas is a perfect place to indulge in a bold wallpaper. "I was so excited to have an intimate little sanctuary to cover in the palm leaf wallpaper; it makes me so happy every time I look at it. It never gets old, and I especially love it in contrast to the black lacquer doors.” The result is super Hollywood Regency, which is lovely in a small and fabulous little dose!
Sara also gutted both bathrooms and they are not to be missed! "I saw the master as more of a Zen spa type of space, while the gold and white guest bath reminds me of an old-school European hotel bathroom. The lion doorknocker on the vanity is the very first fixture I bought for the apartment before we even closed on it. Then I designed the bathroom around it.”
“I really love furniture from the ‘70s,” she says. "The dining table was probably the last major piece and was sort of the final piece to the puzzle. I knew I wanted it to be a centrepiece of the apartment. I saw this green slab at a marble yard and fell in love. We designed the gold drum legs to be really simple and have the marble be the focus.”
"I love diner-style banquettes," she adds. "We are big on cooking and entertaining and having dinner parties, and the banquette adds a casual and comfortable element.” It also seats tons of people and is ridiculously glamorous. To complement the table, Sara custom-designed the bench: “After I found the emerald green mohair in a remnants section of Mood Fabrics, I knew it had to find its home in ours.” The dark tufting with that moulding and green marble—amazing!