Fashion Executive Jaqui Lividini Injects a Bit of Europe Into Her Carnegie Hill Apartment
Quaint and quiet aren’t adjectives typically associated with Manhattan apartments—even when they’re located on the sleepier edges of the Upper East Side. “I don’t even feel like we live in the city,” fashion executive Jaqui Lividini says of the Carnegie Hill home she shares with her longtime partner, actor John Speredakos, and their young daughter. “Our apartment overlooks a street full of trees, and sunlight streams in all day. It’s something you don’t always find in New York.”
Carnegie Hill is known for its charming blocks, shops, and restaurants that give off an intimate, almost European, feel—a logical choice to live, certainly, for someone who has spent her life in the style world. The founder of Lividini & Co., a fashion-based branding company launched in 2005, Lividini was previously the senior vice president of fashion merchandising and communications at Saks Fifth Avenue—a formidable post that yielded a sizable contact list and a reputation to match. She now specializes in advising a vast network of clients, ranging from icons like Lord & Taylor to newbies like Jack Wills, on all things style-related.
As a fashion executive, Lividini is accustomed to luxury accommodations in international locales; at home, however, she and Speredakos wanted to create a relaxed, elegant environment that was family-friendly and sophisticated at the same time. The couple envisioned a fresh-faced Manhattan apartment with the storied appeal of a charming European country cottage.
As passionate about style on the home front as in her business, Lividini follows a similar creative process for each arena: She starts with old-school scrapbooks filled with tear sheets. “I’ve always made a book for every home I’ve renovated,” she says, although the undertaking in this case was not hers alone. After compiling a look book for her new apartment, Lividini hired interior designer Charles Riley, with whom she worked closely to achieve the 18th-century Swedish Gustavian–style decoration she’s particularly drawn to, with its washed color palette, scrubbed whites, and painted woods.
The apartment, in a landmarked building dating from 1890, had good bones to begin with, including pickled wood floors, period paneled doors, and ten-foot ceilings. The dark wood finishes and recently remodeled modern kitchen and baths, however, would have to go. Riley let the Scandinavian aesthetic guide him as he transformed each room, starting with the kitchen, where he painted the seeded-glass cabinets white and paired them with pale marble countertops. He added a farmhouse sink, along with a custom corner banquette that accommodates an ample antique farmhouse table. “When you walk in, it really feels like you’re in a house,” the designer says.
The apartment’s furniture is a seamless integration of antiques and reproductions, all tastefully assembled for modern family life. In the living room, a striped silk accentuates the contours of an antique curved-back sofa, accent pillows with botanical prints add pops of personality, and durable hemp linen wears well on a pair of faux-finish chairs, the range of fabrics testifying to Lividini’s love of textiles.
A lifelong collector, Lividini showcases many of her favorite things here, including rare books about fashion, multiple chess sets (Speredakos loves to play), and pastoral artworks (including an Andrew Wyeth giclée) depicting Maine, where Lividini and Speredakos spend time in the summer. She amassed the mostly European array of furnishings during “all those trips to Europe over the years. In between business, I’d be off antiquing in Paris or London, absorbing that European sense of culture and style.”
Given Lividini’s fashion-world pedigree, her walk-in closet was a necessary focal point during the renovation. In a nod to Narnia, Riley designed mirrored doors that she can walk through directly from the master bathroom. But while the capacious cabinet is fitting for a fashion executive, it’s more Manhattan apartment than McMansion, and Lividini claims she could actually use a bit more room. “I have to switch it out seasonally,” she says. “I still can’t fit everything!”
A version of this article appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of New York Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Style Setter.
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