“It was a homecoming!” Paola Saracino Fendi recalls gleefully of her young family’s move into this pre-war apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. The senior advisor at Schwartzman& had lived in London for almost a decade when she and her husband, Aram, made the call to return to the city—even the neighborhood—where she grew up. She was looking for something that felt familiar, “old-school New York,” as she calls it, and when she first laid eyes on the apartment, she knew it was the one. “It reminded me of my childhood home,” she remembers. “The layout, the moldings, the fireplace; it felt like fate.”
The place held a certain significance for Paola and Aram. It was their first home together as newlyweds, for starters (they were married in Ibiza in 2021), and it’s where they would welcome their son, Massimo. When it came time to appoint the interiors, which Paola imagined as “warm, inviting, full of light…with elements of London and Europe” (she had a pattern-wrapped David Hicks room and the Bloomsbury vibes at Charleston house on the mind), it was a no-brainer to assign the job to their friends Charlotte Rey and Duncan Campbell, of the UK-based firm Campbell-Rey. The only problem? Almost immediately after they bought the apartment, the world went into pandemic lockdown.
Rey and Campbell made it work, conducting Zoom calls—many—and Facetiming with contractors as they installed picture-frame molding. Their intimate knowledge of the couple guided them through the process—even if they didn’t see the apartment until two years in. They were working with what New Yorkers call a “classic six,” named for its typical prewar floor plan which includes a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a maid’s room, plus bathrooms (usually two). Luckily, the tried and true arrangement needed little tweaking. Renovations were relatively minimal: They vamped up the entry with mirrors, added terrazzo floors and a tiled backsplash in the kitchen, and enhanced the moldings with a custom bead. But most other transformations happened with good old fashioned paint and wallpaper—and furnishings of course.
“How do we take what’s a fairly typical layout and just wake it up?” says Campbell of their self-prescribed brief. “The Upper East Side can be a little…polite. We tried to keep some of that spirit while creating these little moments of surprise. You know, the squeeze of lime.” For them, that dash of flavor comes from mixing design styles, periods, and of course, color and pattern, in unexpected ways, creating an interior that feels as eclectic, international, and sophisticated as its inhabitants.