photographs by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE text by Caroline Biggs
Zach Motl strikes a pose on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
A window designer for Ralph Lauren’s Madison Avenue flagship stores by day, Zach Motl opened his own interior design firm in 2010, after his 178-square-foot apartment was showcased in the New York Times. One of his latest projects, a cozy one-bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, offers all the cleverness, charm, and utility his admirers have come to expect. Here, in addition to giving us a tour of this daring, dude-friendly pied-à-terre, he talks chukkas, London, and Thomas O’Brien with domino.
Occupation: Window designer/ interior designer
Current location: Brooklyn, New York
A translucent desk makes a sleek console in the entryway.
How would you describe your personal style?
Classic, with a twist.
What’s your most prized possession?
I don’t think there’s any material possession that I’d really be crushed to lose, though I am grateful for what I have. I bought myself a nice watch once I got my first real job—that felt pretty good.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
I don’t really travel much, but I’m a huge fan of London.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Inspiration is all around us: walking the streets; in museums, nature, and books. I often look to the birds for color inspiration.
Motl painted three oversize bookcases a rich blue, energizing the room’s neutral backdrop.
Open shelves supply chic, low-cost kitchen storage.
Motl redesigned this uptown Manhattan apartment, once a psychiatrist’s office, after its owner sent him a handwritten fan letter praising his style.
This French armchair is a flea-market find that Motl had reupholstered with a hand-loomed African blanket.
In tight quarters, a pair of matching wall lamps provides ample bedside lighting.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably jeans, a T-shirt, a white button-up, and a sweatshirt, with white Vans or suede chukkas, depending on the season.
On what items do you scrimp? On what do you splurge?
I’m pretty frugal, but I do try to buy and eat organic food whenever possible. I also have a secret addiction to scented candles.
What makes a home beautiful?
A home is beautiful when you’re able to sense the personality of the person who lives there and can feel his or her presence upon entering a room. I also love a sense of humor when it comes to decorating. It keeps things from getting too serious.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My boss once said to me, "If it was easy, everybody would be doing it." He was probably just trying to get me to work harder, but it definitely stuck with me.
What living person do you most admire?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Thomas O’Brien. I love his style and admire him for the success he’s had building a solid brand.
What items do you never leave home without?
"Keys, wallet, cell phone." Thanks, Dad.