Uptown boy

Matthew Patrick Smyth, a New York decorator of Irish origin, channels a classic design style in his uptown abode


The Big Apple is a place where the ghosts of the grand dames of decorating never sleep because they continue to influence the city’s uptown look. The sophisticated Wasp look, created by designers Dorothy Draper and Sister Parish, knits art and antiques with classically contemporary pieces to create the type of home that looks like it could have been put together by its owners, every so casually. It’s an approach that Matthew Patrick Smyth, a second generation Irish decorator, favours. H e describes his aesthetic as “traditional classical design”.

Smyth’s work has graced the pages of glossy magazines such as Elle De cor , House Beautiful and House and Garden and his clients include the artist, heiress and and jeans creator Glor ia Vanderbilt . H e’s just helped design her show space at the 1st Dibs gallery on Lexington Avenue.

Smyth’s one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side may be small by Park Avenue standards but the 83.6sq m (900sq ft) space has all the décor hallmarks of establishment New York.

His look is achieved by juxtaposing antiques with contemporary pieces and filling the walls with art and surfaces with art books and mementoes.

He designed the living room for after- dark cocktail parties. The walls are painted in a warm brick-red that gives the space a womb-like feel. At one party a friend praised his ability to make everyone look good by saying longingly: “I wish I could go through life with the colour of these walls behind me.”

A brass trim étagère (shelving unit) is one of several pieces he owns that were gifts from friends. Its leather shelves are laden with design books and souvenirs of his travels, including a ceramic pot from a flea market in Prague and urns bought on his first visit to Morocco. Smyth spends his weekends antiquing, ostensibly on the hunt for pieces for clients, but he also buys for his own homes.

When Smyth gets bored with a piece he can move it from his NY apartment to his three-bedroom country house in Sharon, upstate New York.

Smyth also spends quite a bit of time in Paris where he has an apartment and avails of low air fares to get back to Ireland to catch up with his cousins outside Newtown near Charleville in West Cork.

The New York apartment is an homage to the modern day grand tour, Smyth explains. A stone model of Cambodia’s Angkor Watt is in the living room and in the bedroom there is a stone replica of the Taj Mahal, picked up in Connecticut years before Smyth ever travelled to India.

Nothing is here to fill up a space, he says. “I buy slowly as I happen on pieces I like and enjoy over time seeing them connect into a cohesive look.”

Living Traditions: Interiors by Matthew Patrick Smyth is published by Monacelli Press. For more see matthewsmyth.com

Mid-town Manhattan’s new Viceroy Hotel wa s designed by Roman and Williams who did the Ace Hotel, the Boom Boom Room at the Standard, HuffPost Live studio set and offices and Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Pinch. The hip crowd is “anticipating” the opening of its rooftop bar next month which promises to look and feel like a luxury airliner and will have views of Central Park

Pick up inspiring ideas at 1st Dibs’ new home at 200 Lexington, where dozens of antique dealers have booths. Smyth often shops for clients at Istdibs.com. Artist Gloria Vanderbilt’s show opens there on Febru ary 27th. She is a client of Smyth ’s and he is helping to design her space.

The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market is a favourite with stylists and production designers and a fun activity at weekends. It can be hit or miss but, as Smyth says: “It only takes one piece to make it all worthwhile.”

The Asia Society is a quiet spot on 70th and Park Avenue that always has interesting exhibits. The Garden Court Cafe has been described by Forbes Magazine as, “a culinary Shangri-La”. The Frick Museum, with its 18th century French furniture , porcelain and enamels, is only a block or two away. Also check out the restaurant and cafe at Neue Galerie featuring German and Austrian art, which is “a great source of design inspiration”.
cafesabarsky.com; frick.org; asiasociety.org

Smyth’s neighbourhood shops can be found on Lexington Avenue from 70th Street to 75th Street. Visit Lexington Gardens for the city’s greatest garden ideas – all indoors; Mecox has great pieces of design as well as relatively reasonable antiques; Le Dé cor Francais is a Francophile favourite; HB Home is an interior design shop that plays with colour and texture.
mecox.com; hbhome.com; ledecorfrancais.com; lexingtongardensnyc.com