Lora’s Kid-Friendly NYC Apartment

By Molly McConn
kids play area

Living in New York with small kids is no easy feat, yet Lora Appleton, founder of kinder MODERN and kinder GROUND, manages to make it look so simple in her stunning space. Settled on the West side of Manhattan, her home is as enchanting as it is elegant. Always mindful of how the pieces she brought home would marry her aesthetic with her family life, she noticed a void in the market of furniture that is friendly enough for kids’ and adults’ tastes alike. It was this challenge that helped spawn the idea behind kinder MODERN, her contemporary line of children’s furniture. As one might suspect, her home is every parent’s dream of great design, executed with pieces that are conducive to life with a five-year-old son. Click through to see Lora’s sophisticated space!

*photos by Belathee

Design inspiration for your home:

I typically start with color. I’ve always had vibrant, saturated colorful walls, but in this home I decided to go in the opposite direction and keep the walls neutral so the rest of the design could pop.

On their New York Harbor neighborhood:

We’ve lived here for three years. We worked with a dear friend who recommended the area to us. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but it’s super great. Battery Park is gorgeous, we’re a few blocks from the water and there are so many great active events on the west side highway of Manhattan.

Biggest design challenge for the space:

The odd shaped main space. It is triangular and needed to function in a lot of ways. Between my awesome designer, Bachman Clem, and my architect, Carl Muelheisen at OMAS, we did a lot of exploration on how to use the space in a way that met all of our needs.

*Sources: couch covered in Creation Baumann fabric, ottoman poufs in Maharam fabric, vintage chair, vintage Bjorn Winblad lamp, Aalto kinder MODERN stool

I purchased these two amazing vintage leather chairs for my living room knowing my son would likely spill on it and mess with it which is why I didn’t re-cover them. We work with the “worn” aspect of it.

Philosophy for curating the pieces in her home:

For me, it’s all about the mix. I have very personal attachment to ‘things’ — I love the sentiment, the story, the history. All of these stories pepper my home, and make me feel connected to my creativity and the people in my life whom I love .

*countertops material is calcutta gold marble and cabinets are in grey stained oak

Your home in 5 words or less:

amazing, open, purposeful, chic & modern

A well designed home should…

feel effortless.

*Sources: Broad Dining Table from Uhuru, vintage Swedish chairs from the 1960s recovered in Maharam fabric, Serge Mouille light fixture and native line wall hanging

Favorite spot in the house:

My kitchen! When I first began the design process for the house, I wanted an all white-on-white kitchen. I was obsessed with collecting images of white kitchens.

In the end, I realized I’m really not that girl. I’m a strong choice lady, and like drama in my life and in my home (at least in terms of decor.)  I wanted the kitchen to feel clean, be the center of the home and also fun to enjoy.

That translates to highly functional and not too over-the-top financially. My architect Carl Muehleisen had the idea to incorporate the black and glass shelves to take advantage of the light coming in and make that more of a ‘green’ space area.

I was adamant that the marble have life and that the wood feel organic and animal-like. I wanted a grey wash to compliment the marble and feel neutral but still dramatic.

Tips for creating a well-designed home with kids in mind:

My son Willem is five and a half (he made sure I included the half!), and I’ve learned that kids live in all areas of the home — so don’t smash them into a corner or a small space. They, like us, function in every room in the house, so it’s important to consider that when designing.

*Sources: custom shelves, Chalet Dollhouse from Plan Toys, White Paper Lantern from Paper Lantern Store, Flat Vernacular wallpaper

*Sources: rug from kinder GROUND (create your own!), Pelican lamp from kinder MODERN (similar here)

Choose items of value that grow with your kids. Sophisticated choices usually means as a parent you won’t get tired of looking at them, so putting the time and money into buying and finding something that the grown-ups love pays off.

 *Stuffed animals from ABC Carpet & Home and The Bronx Zoo

I also think it’s important to teach your kids to live with nice things and be careful. That said, it has to be age appropriate. I wouldn’t expect a 3-year-old to know to be careful, but a 5-year-old does.

*Sources: Lark Desk from Serena & Lily, Pagholz Chairs from kinder MODERN

Some things I chose that helped: Vintage usually means the piece has held up quite nicely over many decades — chances are if you care for it, it will continue to. Like those leather chairs in my living room!

Favorite design resources:

1st dibs, print magazines like Elle Decor and World of Interiors, flea markets, paint stores and eBay!

Dream house guests:

I wish my grandparents were still alive to see my home. They would have loved it.

Lora’s background:

My background is in visual storytelling. I began my career in documentary filmmaking and years later transitioned into an art direction. Throughout my career I was always inspired by the material portion of it all, nothing made me more excited than designing in neon or steel.

*Sources: custom design bed by Bachman Brown Design with ROMO fabric, Yves Delorme linens and gold throw pillows, decorative pillow in Kelly Wearstler ‘Mineral’ velvet fabric, Cole & Son wallpaper and vintage nightstands

The birth of kinder Modern:

I also have always been an avid collector of design and art, and thus quite fascinated with the scale of children’s furniture. I began collecting important child design pieces and while I was working with Bachman Clem (my kinder MODERN partner) decorating my son’s room, it was super hard to find the right furniture pieces. I wanted his space to feel fun, fresh and child-like, yet still be chic and sophisticated so it flowed with the rest of our home.

I really needed furniture pieces we could live and grow with, so we made them or found them in great vintage ways and re-worked them.

*Sources: chair in vintage fabric from Elitis, pillow in Kelly Wearstler ‘Mineral’ velvet fabric in juniper, custom Zoe Luyendijk rug from a painting of Lora’s grandmother (and sculpture is be her grandmother, Barbara Gross!)

I woke up from a dream…where I envisioned the kinder MODERN gallery. Then I asked Bachman to join forces. We began by going to flea markets, estate sales, auctions and curated an incredible historical vintage collection.

Shortly after we were contracted by an incredible design fair, Collective, in NYC and we decided to launch at the inaugural show. We have since grown into releasing contemporary child furniture and design objects collaborating with incredible designers from all over the world as well as our bespoke modular rugs, aka kinder GROUND.

Favorite way to relax at home:

I have to be honest. Between work and family, there is not a lot of time to relax, but reading a book with a cup of tea is definitely on the top of my list.

*Lora created the “stripe” detail on her son’s wall with tape.

Lora’s number one interior design tip:

Spend money on important things. Just like your clothes, you intend to use furniture for a long time. Pick well made things as you will use them in different ways over the years.

I have recovered the chair in my bedroom three times for different areas—it’s worth its weight in gold.

*photos by Belathee