Global Warming


With her own design firm and a season of reality decorating show HGTV Design Star under her belt, Danielle Colding is no longer a rising star in the interior design world. It’s safe to say she has already risen. Her style—a little global, a little modern, with just a touch of the traditional—transforms spaces in a way that’s much deeper than just hanging artwork or adding a coat of paint.

You’ll often find Danielle mixing old with new, metallic shades on mattes, and neutrals with brights. And it’s this play with contrasting details that defines this Harlem apartment renovation project. But before she can reinvent, Danielle does what any good designer would do: she follows the lead of her client.

The process of designing this apartment and sourcing its pivotal pieces was a collaborative one, says Danielle, and the homeowners themselves inspired her vision for the space. “They are a vibrant, young, fashion-forward couple who love to travel. Based on who they are and the clean lines of the apartment itself, I knew I wanted a mix of classic modern furnishings with global-inspired accents,” she says. “Color was also very important, and with a couple who aren’t afraid of color, I could go a little wild.”

Danielle’s job was to translate this modern-global style into an interior space, all while maintaining a sense of balance. The result? An apartment full of bold colors, deep neutrals, and statement pieces that are softened by plenty of natural light and a welcoming, open floor plan.

Each room, from the minimalist kitchen to the very modern living room, is highlighted by bright pops of color and metallic accents set against neutral palettes. “The B&B Italia Seven table with its yellow ochre base in the dining room and the Grand Papillo chair in a deep magenta in the living set the tone for the entire direction of the apartment,” explains Danielle. “To balance out these saturated jewel tones, I wanted a neutral base, so I chose a classic medium gray as the background.”

Danielle loves that each room has a distinct feeling. “I think what unites them is a certain fearless approach to design. There is a sense of drama which makes its way through the apartment.” But that drama doesn’t sacrifice light or livability. During the renovation, the designer worked with an architect to maximize natural light and to create an open floor plan that gave the apartment a new sense of brightness and airiness. “The open floor plan allowed me to use a deeper color palette because the space as a whole feels very light.”

Possibly the most personal motifs evident throughout the apartment are the African art and artifacts that Danielle and the couple sourced from the US and from other countries. As all three —the homeowners and the designer—are of African descent, it was important for them to maintain a strong sense of culture throughout the space. By the end of the project, the couple took a trip to South Africa where they sourced some of the paintings and sculptural objects. Danielle found the turquoise feathered headdress, which is traditionally from Cameroon, from an importer in Harlem.

The neighborhood of Harlem and its rich, cultural traditions also inspired the designer. A sense of place—an homage to the clients’ heritage and a celebration of the diversity of their surroundings—makes the apartment distinctive and, above all, deeply personal. For the most well designed apartments are those that reflect the ethos of their inhabitants. And with its boldness, contrasts, African flair, and its modernity, this space does just that.



Many Filipino homes don’t have a home library or study, mostly because of lack of space. But you can create your own library if you have but a single wall or corner to spare. Have built-in shelves installed to fit your wall, or buy two to three identical, freestanding bookshelves you can put side-by-side to create your library.

But it isn’t enough to just cram all books on your shelves and call it a library; it has to have some decorative elements. “Think of the basic elements of design—good balance and proportion will give shelves an orderly feel. But don’t overdo it, as cramming your shelves full of things will make them sag,” advises architect Arlene Maslog.

In his decorating book HappyChic, American designer and ceramicist Jonathan Adler suggests mixing art objects and figurines with your books to create a beautiful “book-shelf-tableau.” For more book-arranging ideas, check out Organize It.

This leather-and-nail-head side table is one of the few light-colored pieces in t he guest room.

One of the guest rooms was transformed into a sitting room. It is a moody, sophisticated spot, as Danielle Colding decided to add drama by way of using a black and charcoal-gray palette. The darkness is offset by touches of ivory and gold in the accessories and moldings.

An imposing African painting sits over a dark gray sideboard in the living room. The wallpaper is by Tricia Guild of Designers Guild (available locally at Rubeni Textiles).

The designer admits that she used this yellow-based B&B Italia dining table as a takeoff for all the other yellow colors in the apartment. The pendant tracklight of crystal drops adds an air of delicacy to the dark space. Find similar acrylic-and-metal chairs at Calligaris and pendant track lights at Bo Concept.

Danielle added built-in cabinets and shelves in the study, and painted them a surprising shade of cobalt blue. Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Egg chairs provide a quiet and cozy spot for reading.

The same lemon yellow hue of the dining table is used in the Graphicote backsplash of the kitchen. An island countertop also serves as a bar for this area.

An amethyst-hued sofa accents the camel-colored bedroom. Above it, Danielle placed an unexpected “work of art”: a Persian rug in a frame.

Danielle went for an all-gray palette in the main living area. The soft, neutral color serves as the perfect backdrop for her colorful, ikatprint pillows and accessories. The master bedroom is the only room in the apartment that veers away from the dark gray palette of the other rooms. Its soft, cameltone walls and bed create a soothing atmosphere. A wenge-finish cabinet provides much needed storage in the tight space.

Soft lavender tones mix with gray in the master toilet and bath. Find a similar washbasin and vanity set from CW Ortigas Home Depot, and tap fixtures from American Standard (at major home depots nationwide).


1. THE MASKED ONE. In the master bedroom, a golopainted African mask stands in place of a table lamp on one of the night tables.

2. FEATHERED FRIEND. This turquoise-hued feathered headdress can usually be found in Cameroon, but Danielle was lucky enough to buy one from an importer in Harlem.

3. GOLD STANDARD. The designer uses gold as if it were a neutral; the metallic looks great against the home’s dark tones. On the night table: a gold-plated tumbler, a gold vase, and a reproduction Faberge egg on a golden doily.

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