LEFT BANK DESIGN is in the business of shaping built environments and offers services which include interior design, project management and sourcing.
Courtenay O’Sullivan, principal, works internationally from a base in New York City. She is, first and foremost, a problem solver. Fluent in the languages of architect, contractor and busy client, Left Bank Design can unravel the mystery of how to approach a design job or renovation and manage as many steps of the process as needed.
In design, Courtenay brings an irreverent approach to her work which is sophisticated and chic without taking itself too seriously. Originally founded in Paris, the firm’s aesthetic is strongly shaped by a decade spent in Europe and likes to incorporate storied pieces sourced abroad. Left Bank Design’s philosophy is to create intimate, personal spaces that reflect the varied facets of their owners’ lives. It is as important that these spaces be as livable as they are aesthetic and Left Bank Design excels at spaces that flow effortlessly.
As project manager, Courtenay is practical and meticulous. She puts equal emphasis on details and on schedule. As well as in making the process a pleasure.
Left Bank Design is happy to take on interior design projects of any shape or scale. Whether this entails a top to bottom renovation, working with an existing team of architects and designers to tweak a space or simply finding the single item that will anchor an interior, Left Bank Design can accommodate.
Recent design projects have included:
- The gut renovation, planning and design for a restaurant on Paris’ Boulevard St. Germain.
- A significant design overhaul of a beautiful colonial home in Washington’s Cathedral neighborhood which found a way to incorporate several cherished family heirlooms while modernizing the overall feel of the space.
- Sourcing vintage lighting for a sexy bachelor pad in Paris.
Courtenay O’Sullivan’s career in design began with travel. A notorious hunter-gatherer she took advantage of frequent travels and living abroad to source unique, beautiful pieces brimming with character. The skill led to jobs as product editor for a shelter magazine and a buyer for a high-end home store. It became such a regular occurrence for people to ask where she had found a piece or if she could find one for them that she opened a shop to address the demand. Small and out of the way, the shop nevertheless became known for unexpected treasures. You never knew what you might find there and you would almost certainly not find it twice. An interior design practice grew organically from this passion for storied objects. Clients were attracted to spaces built around fantastic pieces and the atmosphere this approach creates.
Project Management is an increasingly important part of the work of the firm. Whether overseeing a renovation for busy clients, walking them through the process of selecting an architect or contractor or handling materials selection Left Bank Design has an extensive network of sources and is adept at breaking the process into manageable steps and serving as a client’s ally.
Recent jobs include:
- Acting as project manager for the renovation of a New York couple’s vacation house and serving as the fulcrum for all communications between architect, contractor and client. The job entailed keeping all parties on schedule, on budget and facilitating the decision making process.
- Handling all aspects of the transformation of a 4000 square foot 100-year old barn on Long Island into a summer home, including creating floorplans, hiring a contractor, material selection and site supervision during construction.
- Management of a $10 million façade renovation of the landmark coop where Left Bank Design is based. LBD coordinated the needs of the coop board, the building’s residents, the contractor and various city offices involved in the lengthy renovation.
New York Apartment
For a family of five relocating from Europe, Left Bank Design took on the complete renovation of a large space on a high floor in a beautiful building downtown. Two adjacent apartments were gutted and a layout created which turned the warren of small dark rooms and corridors into an airy loft with a wing for the children separate from the entertaining spaces. Left Bank Design identified a contractor for the owners, managed the construction process including the complexities and constraints of working in a New York city co-op. On completion of construction the firm also managed the design of the interiors, which are punctuated by eight-foot custom walnut doors and 20thcentury furnishings.
For this Paris apartment located near the Luxembourg gardens Left Bank Design undertook a refurbishment and design project which left the original structure and layout intact. Work began with the removal of layer upon layer of upholstered wall coverings which had been painted over over the course of many years. The entire space was re-plastered and painted a chalky matte white to best capture the light. The space was then furnished sparingly with pieces which were chic and sculptural and scaled to suit the apartment’s delicate proportions. Finally, to tie everything together and warm up the interior LBD scattered a collection of rugs sourced in Morocco.
Restaurant Boulevard Saint Germain
When Left Bank Design was called in to this project involving an important space facing the storied café Les Deux Magots in Paris, it was foremost a matter of crisis management. The restaurant’s owner had clashed with the original architect after communications had broken down and he felt he was being railroaded. The initial designs were heavy-handed, too expensive, and did not reflect the owner’s vision. The budget had gotten out of hand and was clearly going up. The space had been gutted and the clock was ticking as each day of delay cost the owner in lost revenue. Left Bank Design helped the owner articulate a plan for the restaurant that was simple, elegant, and distinct from the famous neighbor directly across the street. They revised the floor plan to maximize a flexible seating arrangement upstairs and created an intimate bar and lounge area in the vaulted wine cellars below. The design elements chosen were simple, modern, and timeless so as to not too quickly date the renovation. They were also in-stock and available immediately to expedite the already behind-schedule project. A trio of George Nelson pendants and long ivory banquettes were used to anchor the space. A sculptural iron handrail was created for a spiral stair leading to the downstairs lounge. Once underway, the project was completed for a fraction of the cost projected by the original plan.
Shelter Island House
This beautiful property on Shelter Island was an uninhabitable barn when purchased by the owners of Left Bank Design. Trees grew through the roof and the grounds were so overgrown it was difficult to get a sense of the property. Prospective buyers were daunted by the scale of the project.
Left Bank Design designed a two-phase plan to turn the property into a summer home. Floor plans were drafted for the entire structure, but to keep the project to a manageable scale both financially and in length, the first floor was completed first. A few years later when the arrival of children created the need for more space, the owners punched through and finished the second floor.
Working within the existing footprint, LBD’s aim was to create a series of large airy spaces that preserved the building’s open feel while incorporating the needs of a large family. Many of the structure’s original details were saved and repurposed: bead board paneling was used to create the interior doors and small square windows original to the space were picked up in the new design. Wood beams from the horse stalls were used to frame openings between rooms. Other materials were sourced overseas – including old stone flooring from Europe and tile from Morocco. LBD served as GC for much of the project, which was done on a very tight budget.