When asked about his love of midcentury furniture, Kevin Dumais answers with a crime story. The year was 2002, and he had just moved from his native Massachusetts to Manhattan. To celebrate, the young designer bought a long-coveted vintage Finn Juhl chair online and arranged to collect it from a Greyhound bus that was arriving at Port Authority.
The table and chairs in the dining area are by ; the custom ceiling fixture is by , the flooring is white oak, and the room is painted in ’s Intense White.
Wrestling the bulky piece through a service gate, Dumais overlooked a key detail: swiping his Metrocard. Enter a transit cop, and a hefty ticket. Surely the moral of the story is that the chair was more trouble than it was worth? “No! It’s one of my favorite pieces,” Dumais says. “I’ve reupholstered it three times.”
In the family room, the custom sectional is covered in and fabrics, the cocktail table by and the chandelier by are both custom, the sconces are from , the curtains are of a fabric, and the carpet is by ; the walls are in a leather, the ceiling is painted in ’s Bison Brown, and the artwork is by .
These days, the furniture is delivered by other people, but a sleeves-rolled-up New England practicality endures. Dumais, who worked for designer Russell Groves before opening his own design studio in 2009, has honed a style very much his own.
Carefully mi midcentury classics, contemporary art, cool hues, and rich textures, he gives clients’ homes a metropolitan elegance that feels casual and current. Unsurprisingly, his brand of unfussy sophistication is a hit among young Manhattan families — including one that recently tapped him to craft a home in their TriBeCa loft.
The living room’s custom furnishings include a sofa in a fabric, a pair of armchairs in a fabric, and a walnut side table from ; the custom cocktail table and stools with seats in a fabric are by ; the round dining table is by , the chairs are in a , the 1950s floor lamp is from , the table lamp is from , the rug is by , and the curtains are of a wool sheer.
The couple had been renting in the Flatiron District, but when their sons (now one and three) came into the picture, the area started to feel hectic. They faced a dilemma common to New Yorkers in search of space and quiet: North or south? “I’d spent my childhood on the Upper East Side,” the husband, who works in real estate, says with a smile. “That was enough.”
The master suite’s combined office and dressing room has a custom desk by , in a mohair, and a custom ottoman in an leather; the custom cabinets are walnut with an oxidized gray stain, the walls are in a wallcovering, the custom pendant is by , the rug is by , and the artwork is by .
TriBeCa, the de facto neighborhood of the city’s new crop of bright young things, beckoned. The wife, who grew up in a pocket of Oslo, Norway, where neighbors greeted each other on the street, appreciated the sense of community.
In the dressing area, the custom bronze screen by is fitted with glass.
Dumais came to the rescue, weaving the two aesthetics into a seamless whole. “I used vintage pieces and shapes but in finishes that felt a little more fresh, like mahogany with a high polish,” he says. “No teak.”
The couple also relied on Dumais to find a balance between personal taste and a home tailored to their family-and-work lifestyle. In other words: Yes to the Barcelona daybed in a Brochier velvet (their elder son occasionally uses it as a trampoline), but no to a formal dining room. “When people come over, they want to eat in the kitchen,” the husband says.
In the master bedroom, the bed and Room benches are in fabrics, the bed linens are by , and the faux-fur throw is from ; the nightstands are topped with lamps, the curtains are of a fabric, and the rug is from the ; the walls are wrapped in a silk-and-abaca wallcovering, the light fixture is by , and the artworks are by.
Indeed, filled with cheerful western light and outfitted in walnut and marble, the kitchen is both stylish and inviting. Against one wall, a slab table in pale maple and a butterscotch leather banquette form a pocket bistro that feels very TriBeCa.
The master bath’s tub and fittings are by , the stool is from , the walls and floor are sheathed in white dolomite marble, and the artwork in the hallway is by .
Still, the apartment doesn’t completely succumb to the influence of its surroundings. Given the couple’s desire to escape the formality of the Upper East Side, it is perhaps ironic that their downtown loft now has the graceful flow of a Park Avenue prewar. An adjacent apartment was purchased and annexed, creating space for such niceties as a proper mudroom and a family room.
In the living room of a TriBeCa apartment designed by Kevin Dumais, a vintage Mies van der Rohe daybed from is upholstered in a velvet; the table is by , the chandelier is by , the rug is by , the sculpture is by , and the painting is by .
A master bedroom-and-office suite feels like a world apart. The office, with its chocolate wood and leather pulls, has a polished gravitas. (“I put just a stripe of color in the carpet,” Dumais notes. “It’s important not to go too far.”) The couple enjoy having their own neck of the woods, whether it’s for privacy or to be able to “do a bit of work in the evening without waking the kids.”
Indeed, the couple are effusive in praising their designer’s ability to account for the practicalities of parenthood. But when asked to point out her favorite piece, the wife’s choice has nothing to do with strollers or playdates.
’s photograph Solaris hangs in the entry, where the custom ottoman is in a leather and a fabric; the chairs are by , and the custom ceiling fixture is by .
Instead, she gushes over a Marilyn Minter photo, hung in the gallery-like foyer, which depicts a pair of silvery high heels through rivulets of water that distort the foreground. A striking image, the effect is both dramatic and glamorous. Wendy Cromwell, the art consultant who found it, says, “For this couple, family life didn’t preclude excitement and glamour.”
She has a point. “When we first started envisioning the project, there was some glitter on the mood board,” Dumais admits. “Yes,” nods the wife. “There was.”
This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of ELLE DECOR.