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Foley & Cox's Art-Filled Manhattan Living Room With a View

Welcome to Why This Works, wherein decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.

A room overlooking Central Park is many a designer's dream project, and when Mary Foley and Michael Cox were presented with one such living room, they sought to turn it into a space that played up the clients' art collection as well as the panorama beyond. The duo behind the Manhattan-based firm Foley & Cox, who met more than a decade ago while launching Ralph Lauren Interiors, also took into consideration practical needs of the Montreal-based family. "The couple has three daughters, one college aged and in New York City, and they wanted it to be a place that everyone could relate to and enjoy," says Foley. "Obviously, it's also all about the view, so we focused on that as well."

1. Organizing a furniture plan to focus on the room's spectacular, quintessential Manhattan view was important, but the designers also needed to "create multiple seating options for when the couple was alone, en famille, or entertaining guests." Two different areas are defined yet unified through a common color palette.
2. Neutral doesn't have to be boring, and the designers introduced parallel elements that give the space interest without overwhelming: "Playing off the grid pattern of the buildings, we selected subtle patterns in the room to replicate the skyline: the graphics of the Lloyd Martin painting, the checkerboard of the black-and-white bone box, the windowpane on the pillows, the exposed frame of the Roman Thomas club chairs and the painterly, Rothko-esque squares in rug."
3.The placement of the Richard MacDonald sculpture adds a curvaceous femininity to the angular lines of the room and the skyline. Filling the niche with art also means you "focus on that and not the bookcase [to the left of the room]."
4. The designers explain: "The tissue-weight, wool challis sheers lend a soft, vertical frame that echoes the strong architectural landscape, while the pair of slipper chairs and ottoman grounds the view with a comforting horizontal foundation."
5. Again the designers unleashed the quiet power of a neutral color scheme. "A monochromatic fabric palette creates a quiet and neutral backdrop to allow the strength of the view and the bold lines of the artwork to pop."

· All Why This Works columns [Curbed National]
· Foley & Cox [official site]