Interior Designer Amanda Nisbet enlivens a Park Avenue apartment

When it comes to decorating Amanda Nisbet is no stranger to a bold color palette. She prides herself on using the power of colors and textures to set a room's overall mood and feel.

When it comes to decorating with color, interior designer Amanda Nisbet is no shrinking violet—or fuchsia or sunflower or blood-red dahlia, for that matter. As the Park Avenue project on these pages demonstrates, Nisbet knows the power of a bold palette, and how to keep it in check


The Library
“One room should always be the cocoon of the home,” says Nisbet, “and the upholstered navy blue felted walls give the library that cozy feeling. This room is actually so much more than just the library—it’s where the homeowners and their children watch movies and where guests have a nightcap after a rousing dinner party. The felt walls help soundproof the room and make a great backdrop for the leather Chesterfield sofa and the custom pony-hair herringbone rug. In addition to blues and chocolates, I added a hint of purple to the color scheme, which plays off the woman’s nail polish in the Marilyn Minter photograph and the luxurious reading chair. I love these feminine touches in an obviously masculine space.”


The Dining Room
“Pink makes everyone look good, and when the lights are dimmed in this room, people take on a lovely glow,” says Nisbet. “If you can get away with doing a pink room, then go for it! Because it is a strong color, though, it needs to be tempered, so I added a custom black carpet with subtle silver swirls to complement the silk wallpaper, which is sort of a cross between eggplant and magenta. The tabletops are black glass—mostly because it doesn’t scratch as easily as wood, but also to help balance the room. The homeowners wanted a dining area that would work for family dinners, intimate gatherings, and large functions. In New York, every room has to serve more than one purpose, and here the two custom tables can be pushed together as needed.”


The Living Room
“I wanted the living room to be glamorous, but completely serene at the same time,” says Nisbet. “The walls are lined with a smoky blue silk, and the sofa and bench are upholstered in a deep peacock-blue velvet, which create a certain softness. If you use a lot of different colors within the same spectrum, you can add depth without making things seem too matchy-matchy. We had a truly serendipitous moment with the fireplace benches, which take cues from the gold tones in the clients’ artwork. As a decorator, I just love how a small detail like this can pull everything together.”


The Bedrooms
“A bedroom is the ultimate retreat in any home,” says Nisbet, who created a relaxing master sanctuary (right) with a “custom-colored icy blue wallpaper that mimics the intricacies of damask. Everything here is soft and plush, except for the hammered-nickel bed, which I designed myself and was truly a labor of love. It reflects the light and makes the room glisten. The heavy-duty black night tables and side table help anchor the room and keep it from looking too airy.” By contrast, the daughter’s room (detail above) is also a peaceful retreat, but “created for a budding artist, so we had to come up with something mess-proof on the walls,” explains the designer. “I found this fantastic magnetic wallpaper, so she can literally put up her drawings everywhere. Because the wallpaper is gray, which I decided was a little heavy, I played up the mock bulletin board by adding pink grosgrain ribbon. It’s superfluous, but gives the room visual interest and is a more sophisticated take on the classic chalkboard.”


The Kitchen
“New York kitchens are always a challenge because you have to accommodate so many needs,” says Nisbet. “Designing the room around a multitude of grays, including the deep slate of the custom-made sectional, makes the kitchen seem clean and fuss free. Porcelain tiles in dove gray and white play off the weathered wood floors and stick to the neutral palette. Because this is a family kitchen, it needs to be happy, which is how I got the idea for the bold chartreuse banquette that I had tufted in a durable and wipeable pleather. The shocking yellow-green is such a lovely foil to the gray and keeps the kitchen from seeming too somber.”

For more colorful decorating ideas, check out Nisbet’s new book, Dazzling Design, out this month from Stewart, Tabori & Chang