Feminist and feminine aren't always descriptors that co-exist, but in Sarah Carson’s one-bedroom home in Hell’s Kitchen, both adjectives live in pink and perfect harmony.
Carson is the founder of , a fashion company that focuses on female empowerment through inclusive sizing and ethical production. Leota’s wrinkle-free dresses are a whirl of colors and patterns, and Carson tapped designer Amy Courtney to craft a home with personality to match.
“'I want this space to be uber-feminine,'” she told Courtney. “'And I’m not afraid to go all out.'”
These directives materialized as a parade of statement pieces that would put off a minimalist and charm everyone else. Think: A lamp on top of a table with bronze bird legs by —beside a vase featuring “hundreds of boobs.” Plus, there’s a chainmail chandelier in front of political art and a life-sized peacock sculpture named Bartholomew.
And that’s just the living room.
The decor is spectacularly extra, but the tiny home offers a lesson in balance, as the end result is ultimately neutral. The design’s cohesion required multiple image boards and healthy self-restraint. Carson is type of client who would say “'love it, yes,’” to everything, and Courtney says she had to really think about where a piece would live the home in order to prevent too many good things.
Part of this balancing act was avoiding punchy colors and opting instead for a palette of soft earth tones inspired by lake rocks that Carson brought back from her home state of Michigan and stacked into nesting piles. When Carson pushed for pink dining chairs, for example, Courtney made a winning case for beige instead to amplify the feminine color elsewhere, like those delicious swivel chairs by .
The clean white walls and palette also let Carson’s artwork take the spotlight, including a piece by artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh from her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” campaign. Artwork was a central starting point in the design of the airy space.
Twin nightstands provide a sculptural touch in the bedroom, and are handwrought by Courtney’s friend Emmanuel Delalain of . He custom-made the night stands after some begging from Courtney, with the stipulation that he could name them after Carson’s business. He loved Leota, and it was an easy yes for Carson after hours spent refining the details as a group.
The custom night stands helped satisfy Carson’s desire to avoid “anything typical” in the home—even if it’s a temporary rental. Carson recently purchased a pre-construction duplex that Courtney simultaneously designed. Everything in this space will be rehomed in the duplex next year, which is apparently peacock-friendly.
The bronze sculpture by Sergio Bustamante fluttered into the equation by chance at the end of the design stage. “‘This piece is incredible,’ she told Carson. ‘Unfortunately, it is a male peacock.’”
The boy bird got a pass, perhaps because peacocks can't tell you to smile—and the artistry was too darn good.
“If you go through the project, everything is just really sculptural,” Courtney says. “I think that’s kind of what our aim was: Just make every piece feel really special and artsy.”
The collection is an inspiring feat in a small New York space. Visitors should, however, mind their step. Bartholomew has been known to roam — “Every time I go there, she has him in a different place” — and a blown-glass sculpture also sits on the floor as a tentpole of whimsy.
Both pieces lovely to look at, less so to step on.