For PJ Mehaffey, a love of design came very early. “When most kids we’re having playdates that involved games and well, actual play, PJ playdates at a new friend’s house resulted in the playroom getting a complete makeover,” he laughs. “Toys completely organized by category & put away, furniture re-arranged, new playmates being disappointed because they were put to work as my assistant in a game they had no idea they’d be playing.” Of course, this rarely resulted in disappointment for anyone. With a smile, he says, “I don’t just decorate, y’all — I also dazzle, which means spontaneous bouts of song, dance, bits of drama. Moms just LOVED having me over!”
Today, the New York designer continues to dazzle — his firm Alchemy Eclectic offers interior decorating, prop + set styling, market editing and performing. Clients come to him when they want a space that merges luxe aesthetics with repurposed vintage elements. Today, he’s showing us a Brooklyn Heights rental that got a major style boost — and spilling his decorating secrets too!
Hi PJ! Tell us a bit about Alchemy Eclectic.
Alchemy Eclectic is my design philosophy. To me, it’s the the process of mixing a bunch of different styles and combining them into something truly unique + special. And when that happens, it’s pure GOLD. I launched the company in 2011 and I specialize in delivering one of a kind spaces that tell the stories of the people who live in them, regardless of the budget. I’ve always believed that everyone deserves a highly stylish space that they love. That often comes from repurposing and reinventing what someone already owns or adding in some unexpected vintage fabulousness.
What can you tell us about this home — where is it located? What condition was it in at the start?
This is a 3 bedroom, Brooklyn Heights brownstone duplex rental apartment with architectural details for dayzzz (that marble fireplace? the gilded mirror? ahhh!). At the start, she was real cute but needed a furniture layout that made better use of the space — ’cause she’s generous in size, but not massive for a family of four — as well as new pieces that could do double duty for the busy family. It was also about turning up the style dial in ways that made sense for a rental: pieces that work in the current apartment but that could move with them and look fab in ANY future space.
Who are the clients, and what were their initial goals when reaching out to you?
The clients are a young energetic family that includes a fashion exec wife, an attorney husband and two very active little boys, both under the age of 10. They wanted me to make the space work better for them, function-wise, but also look chic in the process. That included tweaking the furniture layout to suit the space and how they use it better and weaving in pieces that could withstand two young boys & their friends’, like the tufted round ottoman in the living room. It’s often used as a trampoline yet easily transitions with a tray to be an extra serving surface for adult dinner parties.
Any noteworthy products that just made sense in a rental?
The Currey & Co orb in the living room as well as the Jonathan Adler fixture above the dining table are both favs of mine because they’re just ooozing all KINDS of glamour but also because they’re both multi-socket, they put out A LOT of light when needed. And these ladies WILL TRAVEL and bring all that glam to the next space for my clients, so it’s splurges well spent!
There is so much personality in this space! How do you bring in so much color and pattern without it feeling cluttered or overbearing?
Thanks, that means so much! I’ve pretty much never met a color or pattern I don’t like, LOL! For me, the trick with this project was to be disciplined within the determined color palette & maximize the space with the right furniture layout all while highlighting this amaaaze architecture. I believe that when a space is tricked out with pieces that are the right scale and function — which often means items that do double & triple duty when pressed for square footage — and you’re sticking to your palette you can kinda go as far on the journey as your clients are open to going!
Do you have a favorite area or moment in the finished project?
Not sure there’s a favorite area or moment over any other here. I really feel like this project is a great example of what Alchemy Eclectic is all about: it’s high/low, new/vintage, spend/save and peppered throughout with the perfect amount of PJDIY that makes it unique to not only the space, but more importantly to the folks who live there, because it’s tailored for who they are and how they live!
For a closer look and more details about the process, start the slideshow.