Apartment tour: Pretty in pink

A French interior decorator offers up his Upper West Side apartment as proof that rosy hues aren't just for girly girls.

  • What a bust: Gentet poses in front of his collection of white dishes and statues

  • Gentet's living room: like Versailles on the Upper West Side

  • Pink-dotted walls and matching John Deere hand towels in the kitchen

  • A moody Chinese sculpture

  • The candlelit chandelier is romance incarnate

  • An Ikea cabinet whose doors Gentet refinished in silver

  • A cut-crystal jar adds a decadent air

What a bust: Gentet poses in front of his collection of white dishes and statues

Like Julia Roberts's character, Shelby, in Steel Magnolias, pink is Guillaume Gentet's signature color. But his Upper West Side abode manages to be more subtle and sophisticated than sophomoric—no one would think to make a Pepto-Bismol comparison. Instead, the French-born interior decorator uses pink as a neutral, the way the rest of us use white, beige and other boring shades. The color scheme—along with an adorable staircase leading to a loft, tons of natural light and proximity to Central Park—guarantees that should Gentet ever relinquish the apartment, his friends will be clamoring to take over the lease.

Somehow this little oasis off Columbus Avenue manages to be elegant without being stuffy (it is technically a studio) and charming without being too precious. And the pink just works. "It makes people happy and it looks good on everybody," says Gentet. (Even his sweater is a muted shade of Bubblicious.)

Known for his classy wall treatments—he's been featured in Architectural Digest— Gentet specializes in silver overlays, and he's made the best use of his talent by refinishing the doors of an Ikea cabinet. The result is the epitome of shabby chic, which is no accident, given that the queen of said aesthetic, Rachel Ashwell, is a friend. Both his sofa and love seat came from the Shabby Chic line, and Gentet loves that they can be easily slipcovered. (He keeps both pieces white.) The huge (five-foot-plus tall) mirror hanging above the sofa is also from Shabby Chic, but Gentet put his spin on it by refinishing the frame.

Gentet has also mastered the ultimate New York feat of maximizing a small space—the Ikea cabinet hides his TV and also opens up to become a bar. His dining cabinet doubles as a dresser, and Gentet uses the ceilings' height to his advantage—even accentuating it by decorating with elegant branches of cherry blossoms purchased in the Flower District. Despite the apartment being a rental, Gentet has made a few more-than-just-cosmetic changes to the place, including pouring cement on the floor to hide the dingy tiles ("It was so ugly before!") and swapping out the grungy old fridge for a stainless steel one, all the better to accent the carnation-colored KitchenAid mixer and blender. The chandelier hanging over the coffee table, however, is just for show—there's no wiring. Instead, Gentet opts to use candlesticks, which he lights regardless of the number of guests. "I like to create a mood. Even if it's just for myself."

After nine years of living here, he's pondering a move to somewhere bigger, which raises the question: Will that be the end of pink? "I'm sure at least one room in my next place will be pink, says Gentet. "I cannot preach something to my clients and not follow it myself."

Why the Upper West Side?

Gentet admits to choosing the neihborhood because he liked the apartment. But after nine years of UWS life, he's fallen for the nabe's charms. "I love the area, and most of my clients are on the Upper East Side," he says. "Living here, I get to walk through the park to get to work every day."

Favorite restaurants
Caf Luxembourg (200 W 70th St at Amsterdam Ave; 212-873-7411, cafeluxembourg.com) "It's my getaway once a week, and it reminds me of Paris."

Magnolia Bakery (200 Columbus Ave at 69th St, 212-724-8101) "I'm a fan of Billy's Bakery, too, but this is much closer."

Big Nick's (2175 Broadway at 77th St; 212-362-9238, bignicksnyc.com) "They have great pizza."

Other haunts
Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle at 58th St; 212-299-7777, madmuseum.org) "The exhibitions are superfun. There's one I love with a giant chandelier made out of glasses."

Fairway (2127 Broadway at 74th St; 212-595-1888, fairwaymarket.com) "I cook a lot at home."

Central Park (midpark at 79th St; 212-772-0210, centralpark.com) "Belvedere Castle is my favorite."

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