When it comes to interior design, what is Soho style? What is Upper East Side style? In this article, lead interior designer Elizabeth Sanchez Vaughan explains the aesthetic of these two styles and how to capture each for your home.

Occasionally, an out-of-town client will contact us because they are looking for a “New York City-style” interior design. But there isn’t one monolithic NYC design style. Differences abound across the five boroughs; even if you narrow your focus to Manhattan, you’ll still find that many neighborhoods have their own distinct aesthetic. Today, we’ll look at two of the most immediately recognizable NYC design styles: SoHo style and Upper East Side style.


Townhouse decorated with a SoHo style interior design

A townhome with the “SoHo style” aesthetic

Not to be confused with “Soho House style” style, which refers to the London-based international members-only club, SoHo style is named for the Manhattan neighborhood just south of Houston Street. Once known as the center of the independent New York City art scene, the formerly industrial neighborhood is now one of the city’s chicest—there are still galleries, but also high-end boutiques, popular restaurants, and independent designer storefronts.

The neighborhood’s famous cast iron architecture means many SoHo residences located in older, converted buildings have large windows and high ceilings, and much new residential construction in the area has maintained these characteristics. As such, SoHo style interior design tends to capitalize on the buildings’ bright, built-in spaciousness. Large white walls capture the natural light and lofts allow for spacious open floor plans.

The New York SoHo style is best exemplified by clean lines and simple, low profiles. Combining curves with more angular pieces softens the overall look. Black metal and exposed steel accents help to keep the aesthetic more industrial. A combination of wood and metal also evokes the neighborhood’s industrial past. Upholstery can be fabric or leather, but you’ll seldom see tufting, so no Chesterfield sofas!

When designing for SoHo style homes like this townhouse (even if it is located in Brooklyn), we start at stores like Molteni & C, an Italian furniture company with a great NYC design vibe.


kitchen with an Upper East Side style interior design

A private residence with an “Upper East Side style” interior design

The Upper East Side (or UES, for short) is another of New York City’s exclusive neighborhoods. The current or former home of the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and other prominent families, the UES is the location of both “Millionaire’s Row” and the “Museum Mile,” with a design aesthetic that reflects its Gilded Age history.

To capture an Upper East Side aesthetic, use rich colors and warm woods. Wall paneling is a great design addition, whether painted or stained, and other custom carpentry will be incorporated into a UES-style design. Because the windows in older UES buildings are smaller than in SoHo, decorative, statement-making chandeliers are a must; mirrors can also be used to enhance the light. When we shop for clients’ Upper East Side style homes, we select wood bases and luxurious fabrics or leather. Profiles will be tailored or overstuffed, and accents like tufting and embroidery complete the look.

The Holly Hunt showroom in NYC features a wide variety of styles and is a perfect starting point for Upper East Side furniture for our design projects like this private residence.

Interested in hiring In-Site to give your home a SoHo style or Upper East Side style interior design? You can read more about our home interior design services or contact us to schedule a consultation.