"People hire designers to bring together all the seemingly disparate parts of their lives," says Sheila Bridges.

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"Like so many people," says Bridges, "who these clients are is a combination of what they grew up with and what they discovered on their own." Not only did she need to integrate the couple's collections into a seamless whole; she had to make the stately townhouse family friendly.

The clients had fallen in love with the building's marble fireplaces, high ceilings, and French doors that invite sunlight into the living and dining rooms.

Still, the house's innate grandeur didn't entirely suit their lifestyle as young parents; it was built in 1857 for a state supreme court judge, who no doubt entertained with a formality that the stiff, boxy room divisions encouraged.

Architect David Hottenroth reconfigured the first-floor layout, taking down walls between the living and dining rooms and opening up the dining room to the kitchen.

The result was a spacious canvas upon which Bridges could work.

"For me the goal was to make it beautiful but also livable and comfortable," she says.

"These are the kind of parents who want their home to be accessible to their kids.

They want them to enjoy all the spaces."Bridges is known for merging tradition—she's never met a stripe she didn't like—with a contemporary sensibility and a carefully measured edginess.

(A good example of that unorthodox sensibility: her joyful and wittily titled wallpaper pattern Harlem Toile de Jouy.) She had the living room painted a bold, cheery yellow.