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Publication Date: 2015-09-13

House Tours

A Designer's Playful New York Row House

The home of J.McLaughlin co-founder Kevin McLaughlin displays the same charm and playful spirit as his clothing.

Photography: John Bessler

Stepping into Kevin McLaughlin’s house is like stepping into one of his dress designs: instantly comfortable, immediately inspired. There’s never a dull moment at this place, a Manhattan brownstone dressed with the same flair, color, and style seen in the family’s fashion line.

Almost every fabric in the home was inspired by the J.McLaughlin collection, from the wing chair in the study, upholstered in a velvet zebra print borrowed from a dress, to the dining chairs, covered in the saddle leather used in the brand’s handbags.

Even the front door wears the bold, playful color that has made J.McLaughlin a fashion mainstay since Kevin and his brother Jay started the business 38 years ago. The brand now has 100 stores around the country, including the flagship in the Upper East Side neighborhood where Kevin and wife Barbara live with their children

Photography: John Bessler

The salon-style gallery wall (reflected in the mirror above the fireplace) features a large abstract painting that Kevin bought for $100 at auction, along with a small still life by Robert Kulicke that was a wedding gift. The living room fireplace dates to early days.

Photography: John Bessler

A strié treatment gives texture to the glazed olive walls in the library, painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Cabbage Patch.” Tea paper from Cowtan & Tout adds a subtle sheen to the ceiling. The built-ins, highlighted by gold paint, have leather hardware on the cabinet doors.

Photography: John Bessler

Strewn among these finds are small accessories that Kevin and Barbara love to collect—Nantucket baskets, pottery, and marine paintings. “Each piece has a story,” Kevin says. “We’ve been gathering these things for years. The eclectic mix works for us. It makes the home genuinely ours.”

Photography: John Bessler

To deal with a plague of unattractive nooks for utilities on the top floor, Larson created a tented space to hide the compartments and at the same time provide a cocoon-like hideaway for guests. “I think in a townhouse, there should be a surprise right at the top,” he says. “Something that isn’t necessary, but is luxurious and glamorous.”

A striped J.McLaughlin-sourced fabric in Barbara’s favorite chartreuse hue was the perfect choice for the jovial guest suite.

See more this stylish house on

Written and produced by Kari Costas
Styled by Erin Swift
Architect: Doug Larson, Larson & Paul Architects, 118 Chambers St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10007; 212/587-1900,


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