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Credit: James Insung Ryang
Madewell designer Joyce Lee describes her home as lived-in and comfortable and earthy yet functional. It's also bursting with moments of joyful color.

There’s a Surprising Decision in This Madewell Designer’s Home

published Oct 7, 2020
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Madewell’s Head of Design, Joyce Lee, made a somewhat controversial move in her Brooklyn apartment: She gave her kids the big bedroom. “Poppy and Kai’s room is actually roomier than our bedroom,” she says. “We chose the layout of this apartment because the second bedroom was open enough to fit two kids and all of their toys!”

“Our last apartment was a gem, but it was a fifth-floor walk-up and my daughter Poppy’s room was pretty small,” Joyce says, when explaining how she and her family—husband, James Ryang; kids, Poppy (5) and Kai (21 months); and cat, Panda—ended up in this bright and spacious Williamsburg home. “When we found this apartment, we were excited by the idea of having an elevator, a large common courtyard and community, large windows with lots of light, and a spacious second bedroom.”

Credit: James Ryang
Joyce Lee's interior style incorporates natural wood, textured textiles, and a mix of vintage-meets-modern finds.

Three-and-a-half years later, no part of their stylish space is off-limits to the kids, so Joyce designed with their needs in mind, while keeping the look as stylish as her clothing designs. Case in point: The family’s biggest splurge, the sofa. “We wanted something we could sink into and that would double as a bed for guests,” says Joyce. “We found it at ABC Carpet & Home, and the floor model was white, which is my dream. However, my practical mom-side told me to upholster it in something a little more forgiving!” (She went with a durable, textured woven fabric in a neutral taupe color.)

However, Joyce says there is one compromise she’s had to make with kids. “I adore plants, especially cacti. But since we don’t have a ton of space and also have toddlers in the house, it makes it challenging to have too many,” she says.

Credit: James Insung Ryang
The credenza and coffee table are vintage and the wall-mounted shelving system is by Vitsoe.

“Our living room has become a constant fort of pillows and blankets, and the kids love doing arts and crafts at their little home art studio,” Joyce shares. “We love playing records and having family dance parties—both kids love to sing and dance and put on performances, so there’s never a dull moment.”

Credit: James Insung Ryang
The wooden Stacking Rainbow Tunnel is by Grimm’s; the leather chair is Garza Marfa.

Since the kitchen opens onto the living room, Joyce and James can cook and keep tabs on the kids at the same time, which she says makes her appreciate her apartment’s layout more than ever. The kitchen is also Joyce’s command center. “I got a memo board for the kitchen, so I can write out schedules, shopping lists, and meal plans,” says Joyce. “It has been a huge help in managing the chaos each week.”

Credit: James Ryang
Left: The bed in the main bedroom is from CB2. Right: The mirror with a shelf is from Native Trails.

The parents’ small bedroom is a calm and quiet retreat decorated in mostly neutral hues.

Credit: James Ryang
Left: The toddler bed and tall dresser are both from IKEA. Right: The angled toy shelf is from Oeuf and the white bookcase is IKEA’s classic Kallax. The adorable bunny light is the Miffy First Light.

While the kids make use of the entire apartment, the children’s room is where plenty of colorful decor magic happens. Here, boldly-colored toys, textiles, art, and one amazing vintage rug are layered over a quiet foundation of white walls and simple white and wood furnishing. The result is joyful and kid-like, but still stylish and ordered—exactly the kind of space we’d imagine from the creative brains behind one of our favorite clothing brands.

Credit: James Insung Ryang
Joyce’s industrial coat rack is no longer available, but RH Baby & Child and Wayfair sell similar ones.

Thank you, Joyce and family, for welcoming us into your home!

This tour originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Madewell’s Head of Design Lives in This Earthy, Textured Brooklyn Apartment