Like many who move to New York City, Chrissy Ritter spent several years bouncing between apartments, never feeling settled in a place she could call her own. When she closed on a pre-war one bedroom, she was finally given that opportunity. After six years of decorating under Charlotte Moss’s mentorship and creating beautiful homes for clients, Chrissy was ready to implement what she had learned and incorporate her personal style. “What I’ve discovered first-hand is that good design is accessible to anyone,” she says. “For those who are waiting to create the perfect home, my advice is don’t wait for a limitless budget. Seize the moment. Spend the time scouring markets, sourcing online, and soliciting recommendations from peers.”
Starting with a blank canvas, Chrissy sat in her apartment surrounded by fabrics and paint colors, hoping to find her inspiration. “I was praying the walls would talk to me,” she says. While her original design leaned toward a more modern aesthetic, she wasn’t convinced it was the right direction. “For me, decorating is about storytelling. I find myself drawn to pieces that have had a previous life— objects with history.”
Each piece in Chrissy’s home is a representation of her signature style—well lived-in and collected. “I am keen on mixing old with new, such as a modern silhouette with a traditional leg,” she says. “You don’t need to limit yourself to a specific style. If you love something, buy it.” She encourages thinking about the duality and possibilities of objects as essential components of small-space interior design.
Chrissy’s living room is a direct reflection of these concepts. The vintage bamboo china cabinet serves as a bar for entertaining and as extra storage for clothes when needed. An antique bamboo table doubles as a writing desk and an eight-person dining table when folded out. And the Oscar de la Renta “Sameera” fabric, a longtime favorite of hers, hangs above the sofa. “Rather than upholstering the entire room in the print, which was my original preference, I took the budget-friendly route of stretching it over canvas,” says the designer. A vintage, framed Hermès scarf, found on a shopping trip in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a surprising focal point in the room. “I had run out of wall space, but the piece was too tempting to pass up.” So she used a Lucite picture rail and placed it over the fabric-wrapped canvas, adding a fundamental layer to the space.
In the entryway, Chrissy wanted to create a transformational space that established a sense of arrival. “This seemed like the one place that called for strong color,” she says. Faded chinoiserie panels are cut to line the original moldings. For the walls, she chose a bold palette similar to the background of the panels.
Chrissy kept the color of the original blue kitchen cabinets and paired it with a new geometric peel-and-stick wallpaper. “If I had started from scratch, blue might not have been my first selection for color. But treating the walls in the same hue made it all come together,” she says. “It just goes to show that sometimes you can work with what you are given.” The large hanging shade and woven baskets add softness and personality to the space.
The designer’s bedroom offers a cool blue-and-white palette warmed with rich mahogany. “I really struggled with the decision to buy a four-poster bed,” says Chrissy. “I had to remind myself that a small space doesn’t necessarily mean small furniture. This bed makes an impact.” Because of the lack of square footage in the space, each piece has to double in function. “I needed to take advantage of every inch, so for the bedside tables, one serves as a dresser and one as a desk,” Chrissy says. A Louis XVI chair is covered in leather for practical reasons since the designer uses it for both working and painting. The walls are covered in a collection of vintage perfume ads found by Charlotte at the Paris Flea Market. And the ceiling is painted blue in a high-gloss finish, reflecting light and adding luster to the room. “The eye should be made to wander all over the room, and often the ceiling is the most forgotten element,” says the designer. “But the blue color captures your attention. It feels like you’re looking at the sky when you’re going to bed.”
“This apartment is a combination of style and determination. It shows the importance of combining passion with confidence and supporting it with know-how. Chrissy has beautifully demonstrated all of those things in her new home.”—Charlotte Moss
Chrissy emphasizes that following your intuition is one of the most important lessons in finding your own style. “Ultimately I really learned to trust myself through this process,” she says. “I often think of the Billy Baldwin quote: ‘Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.’ For me, that’s always been a guiding principle.”
Small-Space Decorating with Style
Chrissy Ritter offers her tips for working with tight quarters—and making the most of every square inch.
- Be daring with what you select for your walls, whether it is a bold color or wallpaper. Small spaces are where you can take a chance.
- Rearrange the furniture to find the right fit. “Ordinarily, I would avoid placing an ottoman next to a dining table, but it works in here. Most importantly, it works for me.”
- Add layers—and more layers!
- Think vertical. Varying heights in a room will create movement. Perhaps pair a tall dresser with a low slipper chair, and create a gallery wall as a backdrop.
- Be resourceful. Every piece of furniture counts. Instead of thinking of the original functionality of a piece, look at new ways it can be used.
- Étagères: CB2
- Grasscloth shade on lamp: Ballard Designs
- Book sconces: Kenny Ball Antiques
- Tortoise ice bucket in bar: Ballard Designs
- Peel-and-stick wallpaper: Home Depot
- Bedding: Amanda Lindroth
- Duvet: Matouk
- Bed: Z Gallerie
- Woven lamp: Anthropologie
- Lampshade: Bunny Williams Home
- Desk: One Kings Lane
- Lampshade on desk lamp: The Shade Store