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A Fashionable Room Designed Around Hermès Wallpaper

Designer Anne Hepfer saw a reflection of the cityscape in a plaid wallcovering, against which she mapped out an urbane dining room. Here’s how to get the look.

ON THE GRID In the open-plan kitchen of a Toronto apartment, the wallcovering presents a contemporary take on a traditional Scottish tartan plaid.
PHOTO: VIRGINIA MACDONALD

By Tim Gavan, Oct. 30, 2019 - Originally published in the Wall Street Journal

BIG CITIES have a particular layout—gridded and vertical and streamlined—that accommodates lots of people but leaves them living in cramped-feeling rooms. Desks are tucked into hallway closets that get passed off as home offices; treadmills sidle up to sofas. But while many urbanites resign themselves to the limitations of high-rise-life, Toronto interior designer Anne Hepfer borrowed, and beautified, its aesthetic framework for a local client’s penthouse apartment.

To wit, she gave a grid motif prominence in the open-concept kitchen. “The feature of the dining area is the Hermès wallpaper,” she said, “a large-scale, modern interpretation of classic Scottish tartan. It’s graphic and architectural from far away—like the view of downtown through floor-to-ceiling windows—but with the softness of a watercolor painting up-close.”

The wallpaper serves as a sort of visual scaffolding: Aligned with its grid are the back of a custom dark teal banquette and two precisely positioned pivoting sconces. Meanwhile, an X-framed marble dining table and iron-legged leather chairs echo the wallcovering’s color scheme and linearity.

“It’s definitely structured, tailored and sophisticated, but it’s also comfortable,” said Ms. Hepfer of the space, which incorporates cultured, elegant touches like crystal goblets and hand-woven place mats from Cartagena. “Think dressy and casual, like wearing jeans with a fabulous pair of high heels.” An ideal outfit for daily—but never drab—life in the city.

THROW A BLOCK PARTY

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Designed by artist Nigel Peake, the room’s Hermès wallpaper supplies the grid upon which the design scheme is built. “It also accentuates the scale of the 10-foot ceilings in a way a piece of art can’t,” said designer Anne Hepfer. Also attractively gridlike: Paired Back Plaid Wallpaper by The Novogratz for Tempaper, $80 per 2-feet-by-8-feet panel, tempaper.com

RULE FROM THE BENCH

The channeled back of the room’s custom banquette, made of faux ostrich leather, reinforces the vertical lines of the wallpaper, and the white oak base and brass legs blend with the white oak floors to avoid visual clutter below. Similarly tailored: Ross Channeled Dining Bench, from $2,198, serenaandlily.com

INVITE ONE ODD GUEST

“The water goblets add a traditional element and a little sparkle,” Ms. Hepfer said. “They’re very unexpected.” Boston Crystal Goblet, $32, villeroy-boch.com

LET YOUR STAR SHINE

“The table’s white marble top complements the white walls....and allows the wallpaper to be the showstopper,” Ms. Hepfer said. “The legs are brass, like the legs of the bench, and add a gold-toned luster,” she added. Carrera Dining Table, $3,299, shopcandelabra.com

STACK SMARTLY

The squared-up dining area can handle a layered table setting without looking overcrowded. “I love mixing new and old to add sentimental value,” said Ms. Hepfer, who stacked floral dinner plates that were the client’s mother’s on larger plates with a classically simple border. Borrow the look: Old Masters Tulips Dinner Plate by Anna Weatherley, $440, and Arcades Grey Gold Dinner Plate by Deshoulières, $95, both from jungleeny.com

STAY GROUNDED

“Design should be accessible, so we made sure there was a mix of high and low,” said Ms. Hepfer. These CB2 chairs are less fiscally intimidating than the custom banquette. “The warm leather looks even better as it ages, and the seats are angular but not unwelcoming.” Roadhouse Leather Chair, $249, cb2.com

SWIVEL WHILE YOU WORK

Ms. Hepfer’s client, a real-estate agent, hosts several parties a month here but also uses the table to do her work. “These sconces pivot, which helps her transition from one activity to another, and they’re on a dimmer so they can be softer during sunset dinners.” Overarching midcentury Sconce, $279 each, westelm.com