Sunday, August 7, 2011

Modern Apartment That's Not Chilly in New York City

JENNIFER BUSH: You've managed to make a big, contemporary New York apartment so friendly. DAVID MANN: The owners are a young couple with two little girls, and they live casually. They wanted a versatile space that was comfortable and cozy, but also gracious and elegant for entertaining. We took down walls on the main floor, creating a spacious, open feeling--the feeling of a great room.
Or a loft.
It's sort of a bridge between uptown and downtown--an uptown loft. It could have been cold and austere, but the rich tones of the furniture, fabric, and floor stain give it warmth. So do all the textures, ranging from horsehair to velvet. And the long curtains add softness to the great room.

The curtains and shades in the apartment are about as simple as simple gets.
Well, I find an inherent honesty in simplicity. And I like everything to be easy.

You created two very distinct seating areas in the living room.
Breaking the space down in scale makes it more livable. One of the seating areas is centered around the fireplace. It has tailored, somewhat rigid furniture and is a little more formal--they use it for drinks before dinner when they entertain. The other is centered around the art wall and is more cushy. It's where the family relaxes, reads, watches TV. The one area rug covers both areas and connects them and gives the impression of an island floating in the middle of white space.

Why did you leave that sizable gap between the two areas?
It forms a kind of walkway that guides you to the terrace--the views of Central Park and the city are absolutely amazing. And keeping all the furnishings fairly low allows for nice sight lines. When you're entertaining, the focus is on people, and this way you can easily see guests come and go. We wanted furniture that wouldn't be louder than the view or the art--they're serious collectors. Those are the most important elements. The furniture plays a supporting role.

It definitely doesn't shout for attention. 
A lot of midcentury furniture is leggy and open, so a room doesn't feel weighed down. And the dining chairs are clear. They completely go away.
Still, the dining area has a commanding presence.
It's the central hub of the home--it's at the crossroads of everything on the main floor. The table has leaves at either end that can be opened for entertaining large groups, or collapsed when it's just the four of them. There are hidden pocket doors so that it can be closed off from the kitchen for entertaining or retracted when it's just the family. The downside of an open-style space with no walls is cooking odors, dirty dishes, mess.
This place looks as if it has never known a single messy moment.
They wanted a simple, streamlined home with everything in its place, so we made sure there was lots of storage. In the kitchen, the paneled walls conceal an appliance garage for the toaster, mixer, coffeemaker. The glass doors in the living room are flanked by paneled walls that hide built-in storage units. They're seven feet long and nearly two feet deep. The one on the left holds a large television and the one on the right holds a bar. And there are extra shelves above and below to stash stuff.

What do you think makes for an ideal entertaining space, whether it's big or small?
Diversity of space--you see that here. When you entertain, you need to contain energy as well as give it breathing room.
I'm not following you.
The key is proper flow and sequencing from the moment you enter a space. You should have a gracious and unencumbered entry and different, intimate seating areas. This entry is spare, with a soaring ceiling, and then it moves into that cushy seating area, which can contain the energy.

There are quite a few sexy, shiny touches scattered about, from the mirrored coffee tables to the gleaming stainless steel in the kitchen.
We were aiming for a balance between reflective and matte. So, for example, in the foyer there are hanging mirror-ball lights and glossy dark-brown floors, but you look through to the great room to the matte textures of the rug and upholstery. The dining table also reads very matte. I like the contrast, the layers of visual interest.

All the public rooms are off-white, but you painted the private rooms a rich gray.
The idea was to make them retreats. The library and home office is a retreat from family life, where the adults can read a book or have a conversation behind closed doors. The bedroom is more spa-like, a retreat from the busy world. It's actually a metallic silver. It has a glimmer and gives off a nice, soothing glow. The carpet is hand-knotted silk, and it also has a shimmer. And we painted the ceiling the same color as the walls, so the room envelops you in softness and warmth. With the blackout shades behind the curtains, it's a total submersion in this quiet, calm environment.
Produced by Robert Rufino.

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