The Art Of Tranquility In Modern City Design

The word “busy” seems to be the most used word in the English language these days, but if you live in the city you know that moving from point A to point B, running errands, keeping appointments and even socializing can be a second job. At times, it can become chaotic. When the team at Decorilla, a fresh and affordable interior design firm, took to revamping a rented penthouse tucked between the Rose Hill and Nomad neighborhoods in New York City, the goal was to turn the space into a modern oasis for its often-traveling very busy tenant. They teamed up with botanical expert, Mary Ann Rounseville, around the green design, bringing nature and plants into the apartment to give it an added layer of restorative and welcoming energy.



The design of the apartment is a beautiful example of Decorilla designer Christine Martin’s creative sensibility – eclectic modern. She collaborated with Maylasian designer Ibrahim Husin on most aspects. The duo had a preference for natural materials – leather and wood furniture pieces flaunt clean lines and attractive textures, like the Bennet sofa from eco-friendly Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Soho Concept’s sustainably designed Rebecca wool chairs boast earthy pops of color. These, along with the solid walnut dining set artfully combine modern and comfort.



“The client’s schedule and lifestyle in NYC is pretty busy; it’s about movement. We wanted to create a relaxed space that is timeless and chic in style. The result is a design that combines high quality pieces with impacting accessories,” states Christine.

When it came to the real finishing touches: personal accent pieces, original artwork, lighting in the form of fantastic geometric shapes and the plants, the space transforms into a genuine home away from home.

“In my experience,” shares Mary Ann, “I find that most city dwellers buy plants to feel connected to nature and also to soften their environment, to turn it into a personal sanctuary where they can escape from the city noise. And plants makes a space feel like home, especially for renters.”




Two of the best solutions New Yorkers have for a busy life style are convenience and low maintenance, so Mary Ann chose greenery that fit within Decorilla’s design and color palette, but also with easy care for the client. She used self-watering pots that require filling every 3-4 weeks from My City Plants, which opened up the selection beyond drought tolerant plants and allowed for lusher tropical selections like Rhapis Palm, Bird of Paradise and Cut Leaf Philodendron.



She also incorporated alternative holders like West Elm’s stylish faceted terrariums, where less water needy plants could live, like succulents and air plants that she was able to pick up right at the store. Long lasting Dogwood branches and gorgeous greenery were placed in groupings of textured organic shaped vases. The variety of shapes and sizes also leave the possibility for the client to pick up corner store flowers on the way home from a busy day.

Photos by Jay Litton.

Mary Ann Rounseville
West Elm
My City Plants
Orchid Diva
Jay Litton Photography

If you enjoyed this article, check out Tips and Tricks for Using Plants in Modern Interior Design + Plant Care Guide

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.