This Designer’s Whimsical Harlem Residence Is a Funky Lesson in Pattern

·5-min read
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography

Moving is difficult enough, but moving in the middle of a global pandemic has its own set of challenges—and formerly San Francisco-based designer Scot Meacham Wood had more than his share when relocating to his East Harlem residence in the spring of 2020. “I actually found most of my items online!” says Wood. “In the pandemic, nothing was open, and my partner and I also had to live in the house while it was getting set up, which was challenging.” Wood didn’t expect to spend months stuck in his new apartment, but kept himself occupied by ordering fun fabrics online and upholstering some of the walls himself, including the yellow gingham ones in the bedroom.

“I adore mixing patterns, so it was actually really fun to play with the fabrics in the space,” adds Wood, who defines his design style as a melange of European and Southern sensibilities that bridges the old with the new, partly inspired by his Scottish roots. For this home, he aimed to achieve a summery, Hamptons-like vibe, with bold structural choices that provided solutions to common issues he experienced.

The dining room, for instance, suddenly had to serve as an office or a “Zoom room” due to the pandemic, and was tailored to suit multiple needs. “I love this room because it has a comfy sofa you can sleep on, but also a dining table and mounds of work books—so we can use it as an office, too,” says Wood, who went with a solid green Benjamin Moore wall to allow the room to be more fluid in its function. In addition, he also needed tons of room for his books, of which he has more than 1,200—but didn’t want to create a whole library of them in one space. Instead, he strategically placed shelves and bookcases throughout the home, from the bedroom to the living room—to even the kitchen. “It was challenging and different, but we made it work by making sure no room had too many books,” adds Wood. “Every room opens out to the other, so we connected them in some way. Like if one room is navy and yellow, then the following room has touches of yellow, too.”

Wood’s decades of experience as a textile designer also influenced his design choices, honing his natural ability to mix several different prints without overwhelming the space. “The trick is to either use the same color family or the same pattern family to make everything look cohesive,” he shares.

For instance, in the bedroom, the bright gingham headboard pops out against the yellow walls—but since they’re the same plaid pattern, they work. Similarly, the living room’s show-stopping sofa plays off the sunshine yellow coloring of the lamp and curtains. “I looked a lot at old pictures of Gloria Vanderbilt’s apartment for our mood book, actually,” explains Wood. “Her eclectic mix of pattern was both fun and refined, which is what I was going for—a really playful, efficient home.”

Mixing patterns therefore wasn’t really an issue for the designer, who used plenty of textiles from his own collection throughout the space—but trying to repurpose furniture from his old apartment was definitely a challenge. The living room proved to be the most difficult room to position—”I measured that room 90 ways to Sunday, but that’s the only way I found that the furniture would fit there!” says Wood, lamenting over the floating sofa and location of the bookcase.

Since this was the first time Wood and his partner were living together, they combined dark wood furniture from both their old San Francisco homes to create this new haven, and he had ample free rein when it came to the decision-making. “Thankfully, he let me do almost anything I wanted, but I did want to run any huge selections by him,” the designer says. “After all, it’s his home, too.”

Tour the entire apartment below.

Bedroom

Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography

“This isn’t so much a relaxing bedroom as I’m used to, but I love how cheery and bright it is,” says Wood of his favorite room in the apartment. By using similar textures and color, he allows the area to remain cohesive, while still embracing his whimsical aesthetic.

Custom Headboard: Mayfair, upholstered in Campbell Tartan wool by SMWHome. Bedding: Serena & Lily. Wall Upholstery: Fabric.com. Lantern: Ballard Design. Custom Sisal: Stark Carpet. Leather Chair and Carved Bookcase: antique.

Living Room

Dark woods contrast the brighter colors used in this space, which was done on purpose. ”I wanted to tie in old sensibilities with modern touches,” says Wood.

Sofa: custom, upholstered in Meacham Tartan wool by SMWHome. Wallpaper: Edwin Stripe (Narrow) by Schumacher. Lantern and Carpet: Ballard Design. Drapery Treatment: SzMWHome. Georgian Bookcase: antique. Artwork: private collection.

Dining Room

Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography

This multipurpose room serves as everything from a dining area to an office—but it really wins as the space where Wood’s artwork can shine. “I have so many pieces of artwork from all over the world,” he says, noting that the darker walls in this room really let them stand out.

Wall Paint: Clover Green by Benjamin Moore. Lantern and Table Skirt: SMWHome. Napkins: custom by Mark and Graham.

Kitchen

Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography

The addition of Metro Shelving book storage gives the kitchen a dual purpose, while crisp white walls allow it to blend in more easily with the rest of the home—especially since the open floor plan demanded a more fluid design.

Cabinet Skirt: vintage Brunschwig. Storage: Metro Shelving. Artwork: Rowing Blazers. Shelving: Ballard Design.

Bathroom

Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography
Photo credit: Lesley Unruh Photography

Keeping with the patterned theme of the home, the bathroom uses less color, instead opting for a navy-and-white scheme that exudes Nantucket vibes. Intricate textured walls with hand-painted accents, however, lend a hefty dose of character.

Towels: custom by Mark and Graham. Door Wallpaper: SMWHome.

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