Krysta Rodriguez got her first look at New York City through the windows of the motor home that was ferrying her family around the country on an extended road trip. Along the way, there was a stop to take in a show — the 1990 Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“And that set me on the path to where I am today,” said Ms. Rodriguez, now 36, whose CV includes the musicals “Spring Awakening” and “The Addams Family,” as well as a number of television series, among them “Smash” and “Quantico,” and Netflix productions like the post-apocalyptic comedy-drama “Daybreak” and the five-episode bio-drama “Halston,” which debuts on May 14.
Ewan McGregor stars as the fashion designer whose minimalist cashmere and Ultrasuede women’s wear became synonymous with 1970s elegance, and whose hard-partying ways became synonymous with ’70s decadence. Krysta with a Y plays Liza with a Z, one of Halston’s best friends.
Ms. Rodriguez, who lives in a two-bedroom condominium in Harlem, has designer chops of her own. “My mom is a realtor in California, and I’m her decorator,” she said. “When I was growing up, we would buy and renovate houses and sell them, which I didn’t love because it always meant that you were moving into the worst house in the neighborhood, and then leaving the best house. It wasn’t great for status at school.”
She added: “But then I found myself decorating everywhere I went.”
Krysta Rodriguez, 36
New stages: “I’m launching an interior design business. I’ll always be an actor — I love acting — but I think there are parallels with the two professions: You inhabit a character the way you inhabit a space.”
Whenever Ms. Rodriguez is in a Broadway show, for example, she paints and furnishes her dressing room, then leaves it all behind for the next presumably grateful trouper. During the “Daybreak” shoot in Albuquerque, while some of her castmates opted for luxury apartments, she went for an adobe house, moved all the furniture into one room and outfitted the rest of the rental to her own taste. “I have a passion for beautifying,” she said.
Ms. Rodriguez was cast in her first Broadway musical, the short-lived “Good Vibrations,” in 2005, while she was an undergrad at New York University. The roles that followed enabled her to buy a tiny studio apartment in Chelsea. She held onto it for seven years before selling in 2017 and buying the sunny, high-ceilinged condo in Harlem, and moving there with her boyfriend. (The relationship has since ended.)
The space, almost 900 square feet, put an end to ever so carefully maneuvering around this object or that piece of furniture, so much a part of life in Chelsea.
“Things fit, and that’s been a big upgrade for me,” said Ms. Rodriguez, who has renovated the bathroom, adding a Japanese toilet (“it is so civilized,” she said), and replaced several bifold doors. The washer and dryer are now concealed by an old sliding door from a piano factory. “I love that it’s a little stained and has a patina,” she said. The front closet has a carved Moroccan door.
Of course, now that Ms. Rodriguez is the apartment’s sole occupant, her needs are the only ones that must be addressed, her sense of style the only one that must be accommodated. “I can explore the space in a new way,” she said.
Inspiration for the do-over came during the “Halston” shoot. She had always thought of the 1970s as the Dark Ages of design: shag carpeting and a baffling celebration of orange. But while on set she discovered a more chic aspect of the decade, an aesthetic that was glamorous and tactile, tidy and streamlined, monochrome and luxe.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is my style,’” said Ms. Rodriguez, who committed fully, even buying into the discrete charms of fluffy rugs.
“My apartment is an homage to Halston and Liza,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “I wanted it to feel like the place you go after the party where you danced all night long. That was Halston’s townhouse — the swinging place to be.”
At Chez Rodriguez, revelers at some post-pandemic, wee-small-hours gathering will disport themselves on the tufted, off-white-velvet sofa, lie on the off-white shag-wool area rug or lean against the sculptural, camel-colored Ultrasuede poufs. Paintings by Keren Toledano hew to the room’s limited color palette. Overhead lighting and sconces were recently installed; they have been outfitted with Philips Hue bulbs, “so I can choose different colors to set different moods,” she said.
The floating white-lacquer wood shelf in the living room displays the building blocks of an artsy jet-set life: a reproduction vintage record player, retro barware, a functional vintage Polaroid camera, a bowl of foreign currency and an ashtray complete with a “Halston” prop cigarette.
The apartment’s second bedroom embodies the more glam, anything-but-neutral side of the ’70s. She painted the walls plaster-pink, and there’s a vanity table, a rust-colored velvet bench and — hello, Studio 54 — a rust-colored disco ball.
The space has been carefully thought out, from the entryway — vintage metal chair slung with a shag cushion; mirror with white-plaster frame — to the corners of the room, “where people can sit and hang, and feel fabulous,” Ms. Rodriguez said.
“I want everything to feel very much of a piece. I am curated. I am meticulous,” she added firmly. “I am not eclectic.”
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