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From Sun Magazine: Christian Siriano's style pervades his Chelsea flat

The massive round metal mirror in the foyer was one of the first purchases Christian Siriano made after winning the fourth season of "Project Runway."

The two small framed Victorian paintings in the living room were passed down from his mother.

And a turquoise-patterned pillow, which decorates an ivory chaise longue, is Siriano's own creation. He offers it at his newly opened namesake store, a 1,000-square-foot boutique where he sells his frocks, shoes and purses.

The Annapolis native seems to have a story about every one of the furnishings and accessories in his Manhattan apartment. They, in turn, tell a tale of a designer rising in his field yet finding refuge where he lives.

"Home is the escape from the formality of the world," Siriano says on a visit during New York Fashion Week. "There are no boundaries. It's all yours, and you can be creative with no outside limitations. It's about comfort and love and living happily."

That means, for instance, "I have about 50 pillows throughout my home," he says. "I'm obsessed with chairs and pillows."

Perhaps that seems excessive. But they help create the retreat Siriano seeks. After all, he admits that he spends much of his weekend lounging around his apartment, recuperating from his fast-paced weeks.

An in-demand designer and businessman, Siriano lives with his boyfriend of five years, Brad Walsh, and their two dogs, Bear and Topper. The 2,000-square-foot space is in Chelsea, in the heart of the bustling Fashion Avenue.

Blond wood floors and exposed brick walls set the stage. The one-bedroom apartment features two large skylights, while an oversized bedroom window casts bright cheer. The natural light also showcases the treasures the pair have amassed in four years of living together. They have called this home for two years, since moving from a brownstone in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn to be closer to Siriano's Manhattan design studio.

It was a struggle finding the apartment, Siriano admits. He estimates that they looked at 10 places and worked with two brokers before choosing.

In this apartment, each room, nook and wall tells a story.

For example, Siriano sees a large mirror with gold frame and recalls the pain of moving.

"It was so stupid to get it here from our old Brooklyn brownstone," he says, recalling the workers of his favorite moving company hauling that monster up five flights without an elevator to an apartment that was not yet fully furnished.

Still, "There were eight of them, and all they wanted was to break for lunch and eat chicken and broccoli. So there we all were, me and Brad, and the eight guys sitting on the floor eating chicken and broccoli. I was thinking to myself, 'This is so nice.' "

Steps from the mirror is a large open space, where a tree typically stands at Christmastime.

"During the holidays, there's garland everywhere," he says. "And it's the best fake tree you've ever seen."

A rustic-looking wooden tomato sign in the kitchen takes Siriano back to the time he and Walsh were antique shopping with actress Kristen Johnson of "3rd Rock From the Sun" fame.

"She came over to us and said" — imitating the actress' rasp — " 'Don't you need this?' Then she bought it for us."

Most pieces in the apartment result from the couple's favorite weekend activity: antiquing. They regularly hit up spots in New York and the surrounding area.

They've had plenty of success.

"We bought a bunch of things in the Hamptons," Siriano says. "We got some knickknacks and lamps from a store in Paris. We love the Chelsea antiques."

The two also comb the Web.

"We've had stuff shipped from this store, Pom Pom Interiors in L.A.," Siriano says. "There are some pieces from my first apartment. It's a mix."

Among the antiques, Siriano and Walsh have added modern accents and pieces passed down from family.

"We have all these eclectic things. Putting them together is a game," he says.

Some might hesitate before incorporating a fur serving tray and an animal-skin rug in a living room filled with antiques. Not Siriano. He loves to decorate with rich texture.

"It's like a styling job," he says. "Taste is really important."

The showroom and anchor of the apartment is the living room, a spacious area reminiscent of a museum, with its perfectly spaced, opulent-looking paintings, antique chairs and bird cages.

"People are so intimidated by this room. They are afraid to sit down," Siriano says as he plops down on the massive plush couch.

Siriano pointed out two French-style chairs that he purchased from a dealer in San Francisco.

"I just love them," he says, laughing. "They were my first purchase after winning 'Project Runway.' They cost so much, I couldn't buy anything else after that."

The kitchen contains several of the couple's favorite pieces.

The first is a framed painting of the two that sits atop a row of cream-colored cabinets. The artwork, by local artist Barnaby Ruhe, took 15 minutes to whip up.

"He really captures you," Siriano says.

Walsh, a DJ, music producer and photographer, points out a red metal bread box, which they purchased online from an antique store. He saves his absolute favorite — a yellow 1970s Syndicate Manufacturing recipe box — for last.

"It's from 'Grey Gardens,'" Walsh says, revealing the couple's love of the documentary about eccentric Jackie Kennedy relations on Long Island. "It's the same one that Edie Beale gives her mother that contains the wedding jewels."

"It's really hard to find. But I found this on Etsy for $8."

Walsh's favorite area in the apartment is a loft-like space that he uses as a studio to create music and work on artistic projects.

"I'm not really allowed up there," Siriano says with a laugh.

The bedroom is anchored by a king-sized bed. A tufted half-moon bed bench rests at the base. Several dress forms line the exposed walls, which are adorned with candlestick holders and artwork, including a wire rhino head. A desk, chairs and lamps are scattered about. A sleep area for the dogs has been set up on a wooden platform.

Clothes and fashion take a back seat in the apartment.

"There's not a lot of big, big clothes craziness going on in there," Siriano says of the bedroom closet. "Brad buys a lot of nice suits. I like jeans and T-shirts. There are a lot of bags in there. Bags are our lives."

The only evidence of a fashionable presence is in the form of Siriano's collection of coffee books and periodicals.

"I've got magazines to death," Siriano says. "I have more than 200 Elle Décor magazines."

The couple have made the apartment their own. Yet, Siriano reveals, he is already envisioning their next home.

"I hate to move," he lamented. But "I want a house outside of the city. It's nice to run around in a house."


Building the look

Christian Siriano's home comprises antiques, contemporary finds and family heirlooms. A few examples and where you can find them:

Asian bench in foyer: From a furniture store in Pearl River, N.Y.

Round wooden table: Williams-Sonoma

Dining room chairs: Restoration Hardware

Living room chair: Siriano took an antique chair and covered it with fabric from the same fabric distributors he uses for his collections.

Living room desk: Siriano's boyfriend, Brad Walsh, built it from an old painter's rack he found at a junk store.

Living room couch: Custom made by Crate & Barrel

Bird cages: The apartment is sprinkled with antique bird cages. "I want a bird so bad," Siriano says, laughing. "A big, beautiful white one. They are so loud and sassy."

Rectangular gold-framed mirror: Found at an antique store near Siriano's old Williamsburg digs. "It's really cool," he gushed. "It's just my favorite mirror."

Two framed Victorian paintings: Given to Siriano by his mother.

Shell chandelier: Made of gold-hued shells, it was bought more than four years ago from Z Gallerie for $250.

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