Two and a half years after Lily Allen and David Harbor tied the knot in Las Vegas in 2020 — complete with an Elvis impersonator — the couple are opening the doors to their dream home in Brooklyn’s tree-lined Carroll Gardens neighborhood.
The couple hired interior designer Billy Cotton and architect Ben Bischoff to overhaul the late 19th-century Italian-style brownstone home, first turning back the clock after decades of renovations that had obscured the original crown molding.
Lily Allen and David Harbor’s Brooklyn home mixes regal, vintage and contemporary. The primary bathroom doubles as an airy, light-filled living room. Credit: Simon Watson/AD
From there, they transformed the space by mixing ornate furniture and vibrant colors that draw the eye to every detail in the rooms. Using classic Italianate-style architecture as inspiration—as well as the area’s Italian-American history—Cotton AD said he wanted to design the space “as if they inherited the home from some crazy Italian nonna with fabulous taste.”
“I have always been interested in interiors and have always decorated my own houses. But this was a big undertaking and I needed help,” Allen said. “Together, Billy and I tried to reach for something weird and wonderful.”
Bold, unconventional decisions
The brownstone has an unusual floor plan, with a spacious garden-and-gold-themed master bathroom that doubles as a living room (it’s carpeted, with the toilet and shower in another room), and a windowless, flamingo-pink bedroom that’s accessible only through the bathroom. Decorated in more neutral tones, the kitchen is the first room guests enter, while the living room is at the back. Each room is themed, from the tiger-stripe-covered den to the all-baby-blue bathroom used by Allen’s two children.
The kitchen and dining area is the first room guests enter. Credit: Simon Watson/AD
“Lily is the one who really set the tone and pushed the program forward. Every time I tried to calm down, she would push and push for more,” Cotton said.
“She has such a presence and star quality, you just can’t imagine her living in a boring and conventional place,” he added.
Interior designer Billy Cotton wanted the space to look like Allen and Harbor “inherited the house from a crazy Italian nonna with fabulous taste.” Credit: Simon Watson/AD
Explaining that she doesn’t mind how the design decisions affect resale value, Allen said, “We want to live in it in a way that makes it work for us.” (She also doesn’t mind that her children use the property as ” refer to the clown house,” she remarked, insisting, “they say it in the most loving way.”)
The unusual space is a far cry from the Harbor home he grew up in in Westchester, New York, just north of the city, as well as his previous Nolita loft. But he was happy to let Allen, with her knack for bold colors and unusual combinations, lead the way.
“I’m a suburban kid from Westchester, so I’m used to a rather mediocre aesthetic,” he said. “But I love that my wife has her own vision and isn’t afraid to take risks.”