Inside a Landmark Home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side
Join us as we step inside a striking home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Set in a transformed prewar landmark building is a modern residence masterfully orchestrated by interior designer Crystal Sinclair. With an array of geometric shapes, warm tones, curated art, and predominately vintage decor finds, the model space at 393 West End Avenue invokes the carefree spirit of the 1970s. Explore the beautiful space and learn more about Crystal Sinclair, the talented NY-based designer behind the interior.
393 West End Avenue—A Landmark Manhattan Residence
Paying careful attention to the converted building’s Prewar bones, Crystal Sinclair infused the 2,435-square-foot model residence, which features four bedrooms and four baths, with a perfectly-juxtaposed collection of vintage, contemporary, and bespoke furnishings—including Moroccan rugs of her own design. With a corporate client, Crystal was able to design freely, resulting in a stunning space that says home so much more than model!
Nearly 80% of the furniture is vintage, sourced from markets worldwide, including Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, and Brazil, creating an eclectic space that feels warm and inviting. These pieces are complemented by Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and furniture pieces by Vladimir Kagan and Raymond Loewy.
Situated within the landmark West End Collegiate Historic District—a quiet enclave that exudes the cinematic charm of iconic New York films such as When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail—393 West End Avenue is a storied building originally designed by architects Goldner & Goldner and constructed in 1927. It features Collegiate Gothic architecture and original 1920s details that CetraRuddy has skillfully preserved.
We had the opportunity to speak with Crystal Sinclair about her work and the project; read on for our chat!
Love Happens with Crystal Sinclair, the Designer Behind 393 West End Avenue’s First Completed Residence
Love Happens Mag: As our name and the tagline of our publisher, KOKET denotes, at Love Happens, we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with design begin? How did it make you feel?
Crystal Sinclair: I’ve always been into the arts. I’ve always been into painting and anything to do with art. So I’ve always had an affair with colors, compositions, and proportions. Not everybody is fortunate enough to go through a designed space, and it so happened that my dad had his home redone by a designer, and it really opened my eyes to what a home could look like. From that moment, it grew into this, like you said, love affair. I then pursued interior design, and I’ve loved it ever since, well, mostly ever since, lol.
Lh: Tell us a bit about your past and what led up to your current role as the founder of Crystal Sinclair Designs.
Crystal: While pursuing design, I went to an internship and did not really care for the environment too much. So I actually went back home from college and went to pursue arts again. And it wasn’t until somebody asked for help with a pillow, and then it was paint colors, and then before we knew it, we were doing her window treatments. And then she told her friend. This was back in 2003. That snowballed into me working for myself in Texas for a good amount of time.
Then, in 2007 I was fortunate enough to open a little furniture store, and shortly after, the economy fell. I had to close the store, and it devastated me. I actually took a step back from design after this because I had kind of burnt myself out. Working all the time at the store and with clients at the same time. So I took a pause and did photography for a while. And then it so happened I met my now husband. He’s from Connecticut, and we wanted to move up North. So when the opportunity arose, we sent out resumes, and both got hired and moved up here.
I worked for about four firms. And after working for myself, it’s really difficult to work for a firm. I understand it’s their firm, so it’s more about their creative input and not mine. But if you are really creative, it is hard not having your voice heard. So I began working with Homepolish and started building clientele in the city under their umbrella until they collapsed in 2019. This is when I picked up my business and started working just for myself. Then about a year later, in 2020, we were fortunate enough and we were doing really well, and I needed help. The company my husband was working for went corporate, so he wasn’t enjoying his job, and we thought we would try working together. Now we are a team, and it’s been wonderful.
Lh: I came to meet you through your stunning 393 West End Avenue project! A design your lovely PR firm described as a “1970s-Inspired Residence Where the Ceilings are Art”—truly a perfect description. Let’s start at the beginning; how did the project come to be?
Crystal: Actually, it’s a company that reached out. They were interested in our work, so they reached out, and we put together a presentation for them. They liked it, so we were able to work on this wonderful space. It was a different type of project because normally, we have clients, and this one, we didn’t really have a client. This allowed me to take the project to heart and make it like I was designing for myself. I had a good storyline in my head, and I think this really helped.
Lh: The 1970s inspiration and expert use of vintage furnishings create such a warm and inviting space. Tell us about how you decided to take this direction with your design.
Crystal: I start each project with a mood board which I fill with images I select with the space in mind. I have a large collection of images that I keep adding to daily. So I go through all of those and pull things out that I feel are relevant to the space. The images aren’t necessarily interiors; they could be furniture, someone’s outfits, birds in the city, the city itself, really just an array of images. Then I pull the ones I really like and narrow it down. Finally, I put together the finished mood board, and in this case, when I looked at it, that is what it reflected to me; I was like, oh wow, I’m feeling 1970s. A lot of browns, and blurry textures, like a taupe cashmere coat, and leather boots. It was those images that sparked the whole 1970s feel.
Lh: Much of the decor in the project is vintage. Tell us about this process.
Crystal: Instagram is an amazing tool. We follow so many little antique stores/shops on there. They post their items, and we shop through them. We also have a good Rolodex of sites we shop and source on. Through knowing where to shop, we were able to find some really great pieces. Many of them came from overseas and were purchased virtually, so we didn’t antique shop in the traditional sense, but this allowed us to gather a really wonderful collection of items for the project.
Lh: One of my personal favorite elements in your design is the use of wallpaper. Both on the walls and the extra attention to its use on ceilings, a feature that makes such a fun, unique statement. What prompted this idea?
Crystal: I am a believer that whenever I think a space is finished, I should always take a look at it and think, what more could we do? It is usually the 5th wall, the ceiling, that always comes to mind. Either with trim work, or wallpaper, or color. I always think the ceiling needs something. I can’t stand it when it is just forgotten.
We definitely did that in this project and wanted to finish off the spaces. In the kid’s room, we didn’t want the room to feel like a little girl or little boy, we wanted it to be balanced, so we went for floral wallpaper with more boy-like colors and a more masculine feeling chest.
We used wallpaper to create juxtapositions throughout the residence as a way to soften and balance the spaces. Like in the living room, the pink tones soften the space, giving a pink glow to the 70s vibes, and an overall different twist.
Lh: Were there any moments during the project that stood out?
Crystal: Installation went really, really well. You are always really nervous about installation day, but this one went really well. It’s such a wonderful feeling when everything comes together, and it works just as you had imagined it.
Lh: What empowers you?
Crystal: Feeling confident in seeing what a room can look like in my mind empowers me. I can walk through a space without even having walked the space. Even through just photos, I can kind of walk the space. I feel like that is a very good asset to have in this field. So, this is something I value. And something I appreciate about myself.
Lh: Do you have any mottos you live by?
Crystal: Perhaps cliche, but nonetheless, I believe everything happens for a reason. If we don’t get one client, a better one is in the works. Or, if we don’t get that sofa, we are going to find a better one. If it doesn’t work out, there is something better.
Lh: What is next for Crystal Sinclair?
Crystal: We have several projects, including this one, being published either now or very soon. So, we are talking about what’s next, too. We don’t have anything planned to grow; we are taking things organically. We just picked up a client in DC that we are excited about. And overall have lots of fun projects in the works!
Learn more about Crystal Sinclair Designs at crystalsinclairdesigns.com.
All Photos by Adrian Gaut