Beale Studio Interior Design

Home Couture

Randall Beale & Carl Lana live in a prewar Manhattan apartment that epitomizes their style of choice: The bones may be classic, but details are romantic to the point of decadence, and craftsmanship is meticulous. Their Charles X crystal chandelier is lit every evening by match, not electrical current. Zippers on the pillows were "hand-picked" into the velvet, a painstaking, one-thread-at-a-time process that makes stitches invisible. Their curtains, crafted by dressmakers, are pieced and seamed like couture gowns.

But the foreground details are played against a restrained background palette of cream walls and ebony floors left austerely bare. "The contrast establishes drama," says Lana, 43, who once worked for Patino-Wolf, a design team famous for its spare, refined rooms.

On every job, as at home, the two men cultivate contradictions. They outfitted a gilded Louis XVI-style chair, for example, in a geometric cut-velvet cloth; it looks as unexpectedly sharp as an 18th-century gentleman in an Armani suit. Or take the coffee table—it's '60s bronze stripped of its lacquer to invite tarnish and age.

Their living room is an object lesson in fabric innovation and risk-taking: The space hosts five prints, several solids, four chairs dressed as differently as guests, and throw pillows that decline to match. The trick to maintaining harmony? Every pattern has a restrained color theme of black and white, eggnog and gray, save for leopard—and leopard, insist the partners, is a neutral. "It's the most opulent yet understated fabric you can add to a room," says Beale, 35, who has a degree in fashion design. "Throw two leopard pillows into a casual setting, and you instantly heighten the elegance."

Metropolitan Home, Nov/Dec 1996