In Coffee and Tea, Jennifer delves into the mind of Interior Designer Caroline Kopp of Caroline Kopp Interior Design.  While sipping coffee and tea, Jennifer learns why and how a designer does what she does through discussions of process, techniques, and tools of the trade.  

Fit for a modern cottage by the beach, this room is actually home to an apartment in a prewar building (built prior to WWII) on New York’s Upper West Side.  With exposed beams, high ceilings, hardwood floors, and other architectural details, the space exudes the charm of its exterior.  Plus, it looks light and bright. Ironically, however, there is not a lot of natural light shining through. See that big, beautifully framed window?  Well, it looks out onto a brick wall. 

Light & Bright

So, Caroline wanted to lighten the apartment up and maintain its prewar charm, taking out elements from prior renovations that didn’t fit the period and style in which the building was built.  She got to work, mutually deciding with her client — a young, newlywed couple — on a neutral base with a palette of soft blues. (Pink comes in later.) Then, she designed a built-in bookcase and placed furniture. 

All About the Sofa

“They chose a gorgeous, cashmere blend sofa,” says Caroline. “Nobody would pick this out if they had little kids, but at the time, this wasn’t a concern.” The upholsterer brought the sofa partly made to the apartment, where he continued assembling it.  It was literally tailored right there in the space, which is very common in New York City.  Otherwise, you run the risk of it not fitting into the elevator, through a narrow hallway or small doorway.

Piecing Together the Art

Next came the art — a photo print by Matthew Cusick that she found at Lumas.  She says it’s a great resource because it makes original art more accessible.  “Art is an area where people need help,” notes Caroline.  “It’s very personal and sometimes difficult to recommend because people want their art to mean something to them.  But, they loved it as much as I did.”

You’d never know it, unless you were up close to the work, but the artist pieced together maps and nautical charts to create this wave collage.  Visit to see the artistry involved. It’s truly amazing.

Pretty in Pink

A few years later, the couple called Caroline back for more design needs, including a nursery. Yep, kids were on the way.  But, remember that sofa that was tailored to fit the space. Well, it wasn’t going anywhere unless they called a couch disassembly and reassembly service.

A handcrafted, quality sofa, it was holding up beautifully.  And being a neutral fabric, Caroline simply freshened up the throw pillows this go around, using a favorite fabric line — Manuel Canovas.  She pulled from the colors in the photo, playing with bolder, more vibrant pastels and adding pink.

A Sense of Order

The challenge was trying to give the room a sense of spaciousness and comfort. Caroline’s able to accomplish this by imposing a sense of order. Visually she balances the weight in the room. The bigger pieces, the bookcase and sofa, are on opposite walls.  The other sides of the room have two chairs facing each other.  While everything is not the same, there’s still symmetry.  “You don’t realize it, but this is what makes a room feel good,” she says.

Today, with two little girls, this long-standing client uses this room for a little bit of everything — play area, office, a place to sit and relax.  It is sophisticated for entertaining and at the same time modern and comfortable for their young family.

Photography:  Rikki Snyder