I met Lazarus Douvos on a hot summer day this yearand was taken aback by the way he transformed his miniature, Midtown rental apartment into a regal, yet functional space. You can practically stand in one place and make a 360-degree turn to see all the wonders this space beholds. But do so slowly so as not to miss one charming detail.
When Lazarus Douvos, celebrity hair stylist, first visited New York City from Melbourne, Australia, in November 2009, he couldn’t help but feel like he’d found his next home. “Like a good Greek boy, I called my mother every day and told her that I wanted to stay in New York,” he says. After two more visits, and a daily repeat of the same telephone conversation, she finally gave her consent. “She told me, ‘If you don’t do it now at 40, you’re never going to get the chance to do it again.’”
With her blessing, he gave up his salon of 14 years, sold his country home and left his family and friends for New York City to live temporarily on a mattress in the corner of a friend’s apartment in Midtown East. The convenience of the neighborhood, with easy access to transportation and its proximity to well-heeled clients, appealed to him, so when he started looking for his own place to decorate with flea market finds and 18th Century French antiques, he stayed local.
It didn’t take him long to find a space that caught his eye: a first-floor, 325-square-foot studio with intricate paneling and moldings, high ceilings, charming wooden floors, a large bathtub, a walk-in closet and from its stoop, a glorious view of the Empire State Building.
The nearly pristine condition of the apartment was what was most appealing, since it needed little more than a paint job. He opted for Restoration Hardware's Pumice for the moulding and Pratt & Lambert's Anthracite for the walls, which he applied himself.
“I loved painting the apartment, which I did slowly and carefully,” Lazarus says. “I talked to the walls and paneling as I did it and said, ‘I’m going to do this right, because I’m never going to paint you again!’”
Douvos cleverly mixed high-end antiques with flea market finds. Here, he a pair of Fornasetti plates frame an 18th Century gilded mirror purchased for $25 at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, NYC. It reflects a fabulous, Italian gold-leaf light fixture from a flea market in Upstate New York and a portrait of model Milou Gort, photographed by Andrew Rinkhy.
“The photograph was from a shoot I worked with Andrew on, and the hairstyle represents me,” Lazarus says. “It’s timeless and classic. It could have been 100 years ago, or 20 years ago, or yesterday.”
He plucked the 19th Century Louis XV table from Bijan Royal, NYC. Atop it, he placed a bust of Aphrodite, a gift of a client, along with a sentimental Versace plate. A Victoria Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell gives the vignette a light, contemporary touch
“My brother gave me the plate for my god son’s christening,” Lazarus says. “It’s the one thing I brought back from Australia with me, and it helps me keep a connection with my god son.”
His 18th Century Louis XVI wing chair from Charles Cheriff Galleries, NYC, and a 19th Century Louis XV side table from Bijan Royal, NYC, accent a bust of Hermes in fireplace.
“For New Years Eve, I had taken the mirror off the wall above the fireplace, and it just seemed to command the bust of a Greek God, so I bought Hermes. But since he’s just a plaster cast, I moved him to the fireplace.” Lazarus says. “The mantle is now awaiting a marble bust.”
The antique table in front of the chair was a gift same client who gave him Aphrodite.
“Clients in New York are amazing,” Lazarus says. “The client had just given me the bust of Aphrodite and the next thing I knew, she gave me the table the bust was sitting on. She just didn’t need it any more. Back home, I’d be lucky if a client gave me a bottle of champagne, which is nice, but in New York, it’s just such a different environment.”
The window and the view are Lazarus' favorite elements. "The size of the window makes me feel connected to the city through its street view. It sort of brings the city in and gives the small apartment a feeling of space and openness."
He had the window shutters custom-made, and chose Society linen/silk bedding from ABC Carpet & Home, NYC. His Persian Oriental rug came from Harounian, NYC, and the18th Century Louis XVI chair in the corner by the bed was a bargain ($25!) from the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, NYC.
An 18th Century Louis XVI gilt settee from Charles Cheriff Galleries, which since this shoot, has been reupholstered.
Lazarus, who is a stylist for Laicale Artists, transformed his dressing room into a space to prep clients before shoots and events. He painted it the same color as the main room to enforce consistency in the space and installed a floor-to-ceiling mirror on the west wall for a salon effect.
A Louis Ghost chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell resides next to Italian Rococo wall sconce from Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, NYC, where he keeps the tools of his trade.
The kitchenette on the north wall of the studio was functional, yet Lazarus covers it with a retractable silk curtain when not in use.
|All photographs by Stan Williams|
"In a small studio, split the space into three areas: the bedroom area, the sitting area, and the dining area," Lazarus says. "Don’t give up on what you would do in a bigger space just because yours happens to be small. "
And now that you seen his home, be sure to check out his extraordinary hair styling talents on his website, http://www.lazarusdouvos.com .
Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,
The Elegant Thrifter