Monday, March 16, 2009

~Let's Talk About Sex Baby...Charlotte

My Favorite...

Inside Charlotte's Apartment

Written by: Sheryl Berk

"A Park Avenue pad with a split personality," is how SATC production designer Jeremy Conway describes his design concept for Charlotte and Trey's apartment on the Upper East Side. "The whole idea is that it's a classic pre-war in the 80s that's been in the MacDougal family for god-knows-how-long. Bunny originally decorated it, but once there was a new lady of the house - a.k.a Charlotte - some radical changes needed to take place."

"We wanted the contrast between Bunny to Charlotte to be dramatic. So all the while I was thinking, 'Let's see - what would make Charlotte cringe?' Maybe a few mallards, some tartan plaid, a dark brocade...I'll admit we had fun being Bunny!"

Old Money Influence
"Trey represents a lot of wealth, and we though the clearest way to show that was with a lot of room," says Conway. "We wanted to always be able to see space and volume: no matter what angle you're coming from, you can see down another hall." Hence, the rotunda was the biggest and most complex room to design. "You can see through it to all the other rooms," says Conway. "It makes the apartment appear to go on and on for miles."

He also envisioned "rich" details: intricate woodwork, an enormous dining room, crown molding, wainscoting, sky-high ceilings, even a private elevator.

Bunny - a proud Scott - would of course be mad for plaid and the apartment Charlotte inherits has a definite Scottish feel to it. "Trey would have let her decorate in any way she sees fit - he'd never argue with mummy!" teases Conway. "We really tried to reinforce that, right down to the bookshelves in the study which we lined with the plaid. Bunny is also a fan of hunting, so there are animals all over the place - especially ducks. There was a whole mess of mallards in that place."

The original hallways - under "The Bunny Regime" - were dark. "We did it purposely, knowing that when Charlotte arrived on the scene, she'd bring a breath of fresh air to it. Her walls would be white and bright and ethereal."

A Palace Fit for a Princess
Under Conway's skillful command, the design team whipped up a palace fit for a princess. "If you recall Charlotte's old apartment when she was single, it was very tasteful, simple and elegant. Very 'ivory tower.' So that's what we wanted to carry into her married home as well."

Though Charlotte has an artistic background, she would hire an interior designer to help her execute her vision. "She knows what she wants; she makes the selections. She's the list maker and there's a facilitator," explains Conway.

The bedroom - where a great deal of Charlotte and Trey's troubles take place - is one of Conway's favorite creations. "If you recall the whole fight at ABC Carpet & Home over the bed, that was Charlotte's turning point: she found her voice - as Trey lost his - and decided to stand up to Bunny. That bed was going to be her way or no way." As a result, Conway built the couple an enormous bed, "so big, we also had to build nightstands so they could fit with it." The headboard is upholstered silk, with linens by Ann Gish in a chiffon botanical print, and bedside lamps from Bond Street Antiques.

A Delicate Dining Space
With an antique chandelier, sideboard, china cabinet, table and chairs, Charlotte's dining room is the ultimate in elegant entertaining. "She's replaced the original plaid drapes and opulent dark tablecloth with floral wallpaper and a walnut table," says Conway. "Everything in this room is so Charlotte: especially the little pink blooms in the Osborne & Little wallpaper pattern and the classic Bernadaud china."

Charlotte's artistic eye would no doubt be drawn to little details, Conway says. "So we put in lots of them. We took all the shelves out of the china cabinet, made them from glass and mounted quartz lights. We wanted the china to really glow, and this way, the light passes through it."

He used rosettes for the holdbacks on the draperies, and chose alabaster lamps to add even more light and warmth. "I really love the chandelier we found at Basil Lawrence Antiques," he adds. "It's made of little crystals that dance in the light. Charlotte would also insist on fresh flower arrangements. "Always white," adds Conway. "Pure and pristine."

Charlotte's interior decorating fantasy came true when the apartment was featured in House and Garden magazine. It marked the end of Charlotte and Trey's marriage, but also the re-emergence of Charlotte as her own designing woman.