Michael Smith's Fabulous French Upper East Side Apartment

Michael S. SmithInterior designer Michael Smith’s fabulous upper east side apartment was the backdrop for designer Barbara Tfank.  The photos show off extravagant French antiques, such as French Louis Desk, paired with a white painted and leather upholstered chair.  The bedroom is done all in a French style, showing a carved French styled bed, with custom bedding and upholstery.  A Louis XVI styled chest is featured in the room, amongst custom cabinetry that is painted the wall color.  A french bergere accent chair sits in the corner of the bedroom.  The fireplace in this bedroom is very intreging, painted a blue with gold gilt accents.  Chinese styled chests are used as end tables in this home, and have heavy hardware embellishments.

The photos by Björn Wallander were orginially for Architectural Digest Magazine, and feature Bryce Pincham for Barbara Tfank.

Home Beautiful interviewed Michael Smith – here are a few select cuts from the interview:

There is a shadowy aspect to these rooms that seems to enhance the feeling of age. How do you bring that out?

By creating pools of light. You want lamps that cast shadows, the intimacy of candlelight. Intimate lighting draws you in. It’s primal, like a campfire. Stairs and tall windows are super-romantic, and candlelight only intensifies that. Fabrics shimmer and woods feel more mellow. Moldings create shadows. The wood-paneled dining room is beautiful because it’s shadowy — there’s a dreaminess to the paneling. The de Gournay wallpaper in the bedroom creates its own shadows within its pattern, in turn creating a vista that plays with your perception of space. It also emphasizes all the moldings. The effect is dramatic, and really pretty.

How about contrast in lighting from room to room?

If every room felt the same, you wouldn’t really use every room. The breakfast room feels totally different from the dining room. It’s flooded with natural light, and that speaks to this old-fashioned idea that there are different rooms for different times of day. It’s great because it means you actually do rotate through the house and use all the rooms. And it’s lovely to have a house where there’s a progression from room to room when you have people over.

What’s the best party you’ve been to?I went to a dinner party in Paris that was amazing. I’m usually good at projecting what a party will look like and how it will go. There’s a kind of comfort for me to be able to do that. But this was completely unexpected. The 18th-century house was unexpected. The people were unexpected. The food was unexpected. The first course was a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg from somebody’s farm, served out of its shell in a silver container on a bed of slightly buttered rice. With salt and pepper. It was the most delicious egg, the most delicious rice, something so unbelievably plain and super-simple with everyone in black tie, all lit by candles.

Sounds exquisite.

But it really doesn’t matter how fancy your house is or how fancy your food is. I went to a great party in California where the host served takeout Mexican food. What I remember was the graciousness and the effort to make the environment beautiful. And here in New York there was a party in a parking lot behind an apartment building where we all sat on folding chairs and watched Goodfellas. Everyone brought Italian food, and everyone was engaged and excited to be there on a hot summer night. It was exuberant. Entertaining is about being thoughtful and trying to create an experience that brings people together to share food and conversation in a way that’s fun. It’s about doing something special: a parking lot was made magical by stringing up Christmas lights and renting a projector and screen.


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