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Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith

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Michael S. Smith is one of the best interior designers living in Los Angeles. His love for art and fashion has translated to his work as an interior designer, creating a unique style that no one can match. Today we take a look at Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment and his interior design inspiration. The sprawling Upper East Side abode was suitably designed by former White House interior designer Michael S. Smith.

A lush De Gournay wallpaper envelops the living room, where a regence gilt-wood mirror hangs above a custom Jasper sofa in a Clarence House damask and lined with pillows of (from left) Fortuny, Claremont, and Chelsea textiles fabrics.

For someone as busy as Shonda Rhimes, time and space are of the essence. The single mother of three strives to keep up with her children while simultaneously reigning supreme as one of Hollywood’s most successful and inspiring content creators. As the driving force behind television hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and, most recently, Bridgerton and Inventing Anna, Rhimes has dreamed up dozens of dynamic, diverse, and multi-dimensional female characters, shifting the narratives of women and their place in the world. Her work tells stories about lives that are complex, complicated, and culture-shifting—just like that of their author.

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
A guest room is swathed in a Tensira cotton, and the Jasper bed is upholstered in a Kravet paisley.
Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
A glimpse into a writing area off the dining room/library.

It can be a lot to keep in mind. So, more than anything, what this impresario needs most, quite simply, is time—time to write, create and continue to build her successful Shondaland media empire—and a beautifully appointed room of her own in which to work. And that’s just what she set out to give herself in her brand-new New York City apartment.

“This place is really about my work life. But I came into it thinking, If I had no kids, no responsibilities, what kind of space would I create? Obviously, we did incorporate things that were necessary for the kids—moms never get to think selfishly—but this was really exciting for me.”

says Shonda Rhimes of the residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
The kitchen features Miele appliances, pendant lights by the Urban Electric Co., and a Kallista faucet.

Shonda Rhimes enlisted AD100 designer Michael S. Smith, who also decorated a previous home for her in Los Angeles (AD, February 2019), to help realize a vision of classical beauty with touches of romance and lots of colorful flights of fancy.

“For us, blending ideas of a romantic East Side apartment, authors of the past, and a sense of history was interesting. We wrapped it in this beautiful Chinese-style wallpaper to make it a garden,”

– Smith explains of the decor, which is rooted in tradition yet enlivened with bursts of energy. Take, for example, the breathtakingly pretty living room.

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Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
A custom table by Keith Fritz Fine Furniture stands in a corner of the dining room/library. Mattaliano chairs in Jerry Pair leather; Patrice Dangel sconces; artworks by Walter Henry Williams Jr.

Of that lush, arcadian space, Shonda Rhimes enthuses, “That pattern allows for things like those incredible yellow curtains and some really bold choices in furniture. There are a lot of gilt-edged pieces in there because the wallpaper can hold all of that. The furniture can be a little bit eclectic. It’s a mix of contemporary pieces and antiques, and they all work together really nicely.”

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
The dining room/library is wrapped in a custom hand-painted wallpaper by the San Patrignano Design Lab. Chandelier by Patrice Dangel; vintage Italian mirror; chairs and ottoman by Liz O’Brien Editions; antique Khorasan rug. 

The apartment is full of places where Shonda Rhimes can decide to work—or daydream—as inspiration strikes. In the living room alone.

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
A painting by Hughie Lee-Smith hangs above a late-18th-century painted Italian chest purchased at auction, which stands in the limewashed entrance hall. Chandelier and sconce by R. W. Russell; Jasper table lamp;  Antique Tabriz rug.

Filled with favorite books and paintings by Black artists including Hughie Lee-Smith and Walter Henry Williams Jr., the residence pays homage to its NYC location. But one can’t help but feel a touch of Regency-era London as well.

“I had been immersed in the romanticism of Bridgerton for a while, so that had to influence some of the things that I had been thinking about. Everything sort of spills into everything else. If I’m thinking about these books that we’re turning into a series, then that inevitably spills into how the apartment’s going to look, which inevitably spills into what goes in the scripts—it all sort of spins together.”

Shonda Rhimes acknowledges.

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
The primary bedroom features a custom bed by Newell Design Studio dressed in Matouk linens. Stephen Antonson hanging light; Gracie wall covering; La Manufacture Cogolin rug.

When it came to New York City living, another major influence was the home of the late Mike Nichols. After the enormous success of Grey’s Anatomy, the award-winning director contacted Rhimes in Los Angeles and invited her to lunch the next time she would be in New York City.

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
Shonda Rhimes (wearing a sweater and shoes by Hermès, an Akris shirt, and Good American jeans) on a Jasper sofa in the living room. Vintage parchment-veneer cocktail table purchased at auction; painting by Hughie Lee-Smith. Fashion styling by Dana Asher Levine.

Building on that idea of sanctuary, Smith worked to create a space that references New York but also feels like a place apart.

“It has this sense of being a kind of citadel. You can be in the city and swim in that energy, but then retreat. That’s important for a person who has a very big interior life.”

Shonda Rhimes

Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
A glamorous mirrored vanity stands in the primary bedroom.
Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
In the primary bedroom, a Jonas armchair and ottoman wear a Robert Allan fabric.
Inside The Shonda Rhimes New York City Apartment Designed By Michael S. Smith
Rhimes in the dining room/library wearing a sweater and shoes by Hermès, an Akris shirt, and Good American jeans.

For Shonda Rhimes, the end result couldn’t fit her needs more perfectly.

“Michael knows me really well. He understands the idea that I spend a lot of time inside my head—a lot of time imagining, a lot of time where it seems like I might be being quiet and still, but really I’m storytelling. So he knows that it’s important to me to have rooms and spaces to sit and think, to have new places to move to just get my brain going sometimes. I’m building an entire sort of universe in my mind, but I’m also trying to think of a series. It’s not just two hours, it’s not just 30 minutes; sometimes it’s 18 seasons. You really do need time and space to think about it.”

Shonda Rhimes

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