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John Derian’s New York City Abode Is As Charming and Eclectic As His Beloved Shops

Curated for you via Architectural Digest.

Anyone can deploy a desiccated leaf as a table decoration. But John Derian always seems to have the perfect dead leaf, heroic in scale, robust in form, with an exquisite craquelure to betray its delicacy. It’s also completely commonplace to leave a bunch of flowers to wilt on a mantel. But Derian, the beloved New York design maestro and duke of decoupage, appears to command his floral beauties to wither and die with sublime poignancy, like operatic divas trilling sweetly as they waste away from consumption or melancholia. The unsurprising truth, of course, is that no one does John Derian quite like John Derian.

Consider the wonderland of tender beauty that unfolds in Derian’s own East Village home. In its happy union of timeworn antiques, vintage textiles, and all manner of natural curiosities set alongside pressed-tin ceilings, exposed pipes, and other vestiges of the building’s turn-of-the-century roots, the apartment epitomizes the designer’s singular sensibility. “It’s just a bunch of things I love,” he says modestly, underplaying his brilliant eye for composition and color.

To create a more elegant passageway into his apartment—and to punctuate the transition from the outside world—Derian conjured a bit of decorative legerdemain. He fashioned an instant vestibule by moving a tall, painted 19th-century cabinet, refitted with an opening in the back, directly in front of the entry door. One now enters and exits by walking through what appears to be an ordinary piece of furniture. “My favorite thing is watching people try to figure out how to get out of the apartment,” the crafty designer says.

Within the home, Derian’s major architectural intervention was the installation of a perfectly patinated and ornamented 18th-century Swedish wall, painted in pale Gustavian blue, with two sets of double doors. Completely bisecting the apartment, it now separates the open living and dining rooms on one side and the kitchen and bedroom on the other. “The wall was in storage for 15 years. I got it from a dealer in Antwerp, and I tried to use it in different stores and in my last apartment, but it never worked. Here, it mercifully fit by one inch,” Derian explains.

The kitchen—a poky yet picturesque affair in the East Village boho style—opens directly onto a superbly cozy sitting room whose walls are lined in a king’s ransom of dishware, cake stands, compotes, and tureens dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The mix encompasses an assortment of signature Derian decoupage as well as pieces from the designer’s collaborations with the French ceramics maker Astier de Villatte. As Derian loves to cook and entertain, the fetching collection of servingware gets frequent exercise.

To create a more elegant passageway into his apartment—and to punctuate the transition from the outside world—Derian conjured a bit of decorative legerdemain. He fashioned an instant vestibule by moving a tall, painted 19th-century cabinet, refitted with an opening in the back, directly in front of the entry door. One now enters and exits by walking through what appears to be an ordinary piece of furniture. “My favorite thing is watching people try to figure out how to get out of the apartment,” the crafty designer says.

Within the home, Derian’s major architectural intervention was the installation of a perfectly patinated and ornamented 18th-century Swedish wall, painted in pale Gustavian blue, with two sets of double doors. Completely bisecting the apartment, it now separates the open living and dining rooms on one side and the kitchen and bedroom on the other. “The wall was in storage for 15 years. I got it from a dealer in Antwerp, and I tried to use it in different stores and in my last apartment, but it never worked. Here, it mercifully fit by one inch,” Derian explains.

The kitchen—a poky yet picturesque affair in the East Village boho style—opens directly onto a superbly cozy sitting room whose walls are lined in a king’s ransom of dishware, cake stands, compotes, and tureens dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The mix encompasses an assortment of signature Derian decoupage as well as pieces from the designer’s collaborations with the French ceramics maker Astier de Villatte. As Derian loves to cook and entertain, the fetching collection of servingware gets frequent exercise.

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