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Design Stories

What do the seemingly disparate careers of interior designer and singer/songwriter Andrew Suvalsky have in common? They’re both about telling stories, says Suvalsky, “Ones that hopefully captivate and show the characters — my clients — in a more focused and beautiful light.” so we asked Suvalsky to take us through some of his favorite designs and share the stories of how each space took shape.

The Chelsea Loft
This is a view through a hallway leading from the living room and foyer to the master bedroom of a Chelsea Loft. The clients are young and sophisticated. Their story was about revealing their shared taste for things tailored yet dramatic with a strong masculine flair, while also maintaining a playful energy. There were multiple reasons behind the decision to add floor-to-ceiling French doors in the middle of the hallway. Practically, they create division between public and private areas; also, when closed, they shorten its length and interrupt the potential monotony of the space. To add a dash of the unexpected, the doors’ grand height, rich mahogany wood and clean lines add mystery — inviting one to wonder, “What lies beyond?”

The Soho Penthouse
The living room of this Soho Penthouse appears larger than it really is — and that was certainly the goal! The client, a bon vivant in the truest sense, gave me simple directives: He wanted the flair of the houses in Mommie Dearest and Auntie Mame while using plenty of his favorite color: cobalt blue. I wanted to give a the sense of the films’ glamour without sacrificing comfort and accessibility. I also wanted the living room to feel every bit as grand as the twice-as-large space from which he was moving. This design was about pushing the limits — with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall window treatments and mirrors, and the placement of a large chandelier dead center in the space. But within the classic, symmetrical layout, we placed furniture built for ease and comfort. This is a salon for the 21st century, in which the owner is as comfortable entertaining large groups as he is quietly relaxing or watching television.

A Home in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
The composition here tells the room’s real story: It’s a simple, library-like space meant for the owner, an attorney, to use as an office or study, but which can also be used as a guest room when necessary. (Guests stay on a pull-out sofa — not seen in the picture — that was custom designed for the space.) The Caribbean colonial wood pieces — including the teak desk and bookcases — are consistent with a classic style typical of the islands. The bold apricot and bronze upholstery evoke the warmth and freshness of Puerto Rico itself. Meanwhile, the chocolate sisal carpeting, the Moroccan touches in the area rug, and a small wood and mother-of-pearl inlay table contribute to an international flavor that rounds out the design and reflects the owner’s love of travel.

The Designer’s Own Living Room
When I designed my own apartment, I wanted it to be exactly what I’d dreamed of, but was self-conscious that it would appear too “done,” or worse yet, like a showroom. Family and close friends are everything to me; so it was important that the space cater to a fairly traditional view of what a home should be: cozy, soft, easy to maintain and reflective of my partner and myself. We love pieces that are a little swank and playful, jazzy and fun — but without feeling kitsch; we also hate when things are fussy. The design follows — using warm browns with light creams and beiges. The living room (and the apartment in general) is a space for gatherings, movie nights, lots of cooking, work and even music-making. It’s a direct expression of our tastes and tells the story of how we spend our time.

To learn more about Suvalsky’s designs, visit

Text by Andrew Suvalsky as told to Paul Hagen.

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