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{Interiors} Karen Fisher Knows Design

2010 August 4

Every eight-to-ten years, FOF design expert Karen Fisher revamps her Gramercy Park penthouse. Each design reflects a different stage in her life.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Karen was an editor of top style and design magazines, American Home and Women’s Wear Daily. Her apartment was decorated in a “European Country” style: Provencal gold walls, rich eggplant furniture and oriental rugs.  “I wanted something showy,” says Karen. “I was dressing showier; I needed it more than I do now.”

In 1985, Karen started Designer Previews, a design matchmaking service that pairs residential and commercial clients with world famous designers. Shortly after, she decided her apartment needed a do-over to coincide with her new career. With a Rolodex of top decorators at her fingertips, Karen selected Clodagh to create an Armani-inspired haven. They chose taupe- and beige-colored Stucco Veneziano for her walls with furniture and accent pieces in grays, silvers and dark wood tones. “It’s contemporary and chic as hell,” she says. “I’m working with over 400 designers and overseeing 200 jobs–I don’t need any more pillows in my life.”

This year, Karen prepares to overhaul the 500 square-foot space yet again. What will it look like next? “I know it will have more contrast, dark floors, light walls, crisper color,” she says. “But sometimes it’s a surprise to me and that is the fun of decorating.”

Karen’s Take-Away Tips for Designing Small Spaces:

  • -Work with a designer who shares your aesthetic, has a personality that you enjoy, and will spend your money in a way that meets your approval. Read Karen’s guide to hiring an interior designer here.
  • -Think big, even with small space. In Karen’s own apartment, a low bookshelf in her living room allows for a large mirror, one she says normally would be used in a hotel lobby–not a NYC apartment.
  • -For workspaces, try vertical slats instead of filing cabinets. You will find they keep loose papers more organized and provide easier access to books and files.
  • -For small spaces, barn sliding doors take up less space than traditional doors.
  • -It’s a misconception that a ceiling should always be painted white. The ceiling should be painted the same color as the wall to create the illusion of boundless space.

Photos by Katherine McPherson for faboverfifty.com

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  • hananghaddar says:

    You did very good in editing what you own. I like your style.

  • Kristi Jones says:

    Awesome photos! What a great story and profile. Loved it.

  • Robyn says:

    Your bio is beautiful, how lucky you are to be so talented. To have a small space and to do so much with it, amazes me. The fact that you change with the tides, is also great. “Change” is a good thing, I think it show’s alot of one’s personality that you are flexiable. The same ol’ same ol’ is a boring and predictable personality. Good luck on furthering your great career. You are a inspiration to all women ~

  • myra says:

    It is clean, crisp and very luxurious. Simply done.

  • Sara from Fab Over Fifty says:

    Janice, I think she did a great job “editing” and tucking away her belongings too! Doesn’t that quote just say it all?

  • Katherine from FabOverFifty says:

    Yes, what a well-curated home Karen has. Absolutely stunning.

    Thanks for reading! We’ll be featuring more and more FOF homes, so be on the lookout…

  • Janice Klein says:

    What a view–it must be rejuvenating to wake up to that sight each morning. I think Karen has really used the space wisely. She has done a perfect job “editing” her belongings.

  • Judy says:

    Can I live here, please?!?!