A Contemporary Manhattan Pied-à-Terre with a Private Terrace

Details

Contemporary Gray Living Room with Zebra Skin Ottoman

Designers Mercedes Desio and Alberto Villalobos created elegant environs for an art-filled condo by mixing interesting textures, patterns and periods among shades of gray. A Holly Hunt ottoman upholstered in zebra skin plays off an antique Baroque stool from The Fortress covered in a silk-velvet from Donghia. The stool’s gilded base complements the gold-leaf-and-glass shelves, an installation by Icelandic conceptual artist Hreinn Fridfinnsson.

Contemporary Green Hallway with Black Entry Table

The Manhattan condominium, located in the renovated Plaza Hotel, was new when designers Mercedes Desio and Alberto Villalobos were brought in. The pied-à-terre's 1907 French Renaissance château-style building provided the space with historical architectural bones, thus, small changes to interior finishes, such as updating door hardware to more contemporary styles, simply helped make the space more clean-lined.

Contemporary Green Entry with Velvet Bench

When an international family admired the sophisticated and detail-oriented interiors of a friend’s home decorated by Mercedes Desio and Alberto Villalobos, they knew they had found the perfect designers for their Manhattan pied-à-terre. As art collectors they wanted neutral tones that didn’t compete with their contemporary collection.

Contemporary Gray Dining Room with Cobalt Blue Chairs

In the dining area, Holly Hunt’s cobalt outdoor fabric electrifies the room’s cool palette, while the graphic motifs of the Fornasetti screen, titled Reflected City, from Bernd Goeckler Antiques echo the abstract activity of Reflection of the Narcissus by Rachel Lee Hovnanian.

Contemporary Gray Dining Room with Red-Lacquer Secrétaire

The dining area’s red-lacquer chinoiserie secrétaire from Antony Todd is a bold contrast in color yet echoes the screen’s narrative design.

Contemporary Gray Living Area with Dice Stools

The living room’s large J. Pocker mirror with a Flemish-style frame bounces light into the dining area, helping bridge the open areas. Stainless-steel dice stools by Mattia Bonetti, which also double as tables, offer additional reflective surfaces. The steel console is from Holly Hunt and the floor lamps are by Armani Casa; the drapery fabrication was done by Mergence Studios.

Contemporary Gray Study with Bronze Sconces

Metallic highlights continue into the study, or guest room, where Hervé Van der Straeten’s bronze sconces from Maison Gerard flank an Avery Boardman daybed covered in Clarence House fabric. Accents come in bold shapes, such as Christian Liaigre’s leather-topped tables with wooden trays.

Contemporary Gray Living Room Vignette with Round Table

The round English mahogany guéridon table in the living room is early 1800s, and the Aureole sconce by José Solis Betancourt boasts strong lines.

Contemporary Neutral Bedroom with Wood Desk and Chair

Natural light, a creamy palette and clean lines give the master bedroom an airy feel. The Mattaliano desk and chair from Holly Hunt lend structure near flowing draperies made from a Clarence House striped linen; a Loro Piana basketweave linen covers the chair.

Contemporary Neutral Bedroom with Terrace Access

Tactile fabrics from Frette and Donghia cover the Holly Hunt bed and custom Mattaliano sofa, respectively, while handmade ceramic lamps from Christopher Spitzmiller top Holly Hunt nightstands, echoing the bed’s vertical reach. The rounded shapes of the pair of R&Y Augousti low tables soften the straight lines.

Contemporary Neutral Terrace with Interior Gardens Views

On the terrace, which wraps from the dining room around to the master bedroom, armchairs and a round table from McKinnon and Harris paint a peaceful moment for reading, relaxing or taking in views of the interior gardens at The Plaza hotel.

Contemporary Neutral Terrace with Dining Space

Another seating area on the terrace provides dining space, with a table and chairs also from McKinnon and Harris, the square-top design contrasting with the other arrangement’s circular style. Shapely planters take a cue from the classic balustrade.

When an international family admired the sophisticated and detail-oriented interiors of a friend’s home decorated by Mercedes Desio and Alberto Villalobos, they knew they had found the perfect designers for their Manhattan pied-à-terre. As art collectors they wanted neutral tones that didn’t compete with their contemporary collection. But because they have a large family that includes four children, comfort and ease of living were the primary considerations, which is precisely why they bought into the renovated Plaza hotel, where full in-service amenities are available to hotel guests as well as condo residents.

The prestigious location, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, is also conveniently situated for the family’s frequent visits. A private wraparound terrace offers the option of an outdoor living space with views of lush interior courtyards and Central Park. “It’s close to everything—museums and Midtown,” says Desio. “It’s a perfect fit for what they want to do here in the city.”

The designers, who are international themselves (he’s Colombian; she’s Italian), understood immediately what drew the couple to the iconic Plaza. “The historical exterior is more traditional,” Villalobos says of the 1907 French Renaissance château-style building, “but the interiors are a little more contemporary.” For the designers, this juxtaposition of old and new provided the best of both worlds. “The residence was new when we started so in a way it gave us more freedom, because we weren’t preserving something,” says Villalobos. The history was already there in its architectural bones, and small changes to interior finishes, such as updating door hardware to more contemporary styles, simply helped make the space more clean-lined.

Working behind the scenes, builder Giovanni Cupelli oversaw subtle changes involved with such things as painting, plastering, resurfacing countertops, hanging the chandeliers, and fabricating millwork for the den. “The designers are an amazing team, and we worked hand in hand with them to execute the project,” says Cupelli.

Dealing with what Villalobos described as the “beautiful proportions” of the rooms, the designers devised a palette of gray throughout. On one end of the apartment, they created an open living-and-dining area with pale dove walls that could function as both an elegant entertaining space and a family room for hanging out and having breakfast. In the living area near the fireplace, two sofas are upholstered in an alpaca-blend fabric because it is soft, durable and easy to maintain. “The client loved the bohemian look of velvet but didn’t want it to get crushed,” says Desio.

Behind the sofas, encircling a rectangular contemporary Holly Hunt table long enough to support a family’s sprawl of computer notebooks, are Louis XVI-style dining chairs upholstered with outdoor fabric on the front for durability and horsehair from Loro Piana on the back. “The client loves antiques, but the chairs had to be functional,” explains Villalobos, who included a vintage screen by Fornasetti, a red chinoiserie secrétaire from the William and Mary period and a Baccarat chandelier in the mix. “The wife grew up with them,” adds Desio about the last. “It’s part of her tradition.”

Throughout the apartment, offsets continue. In a multipurpose study that easily converts to a guest room, dark gray wool wallpaper provides a cozy cocoon-like feel. Contemporary artwork by Ivory Coast artist Jean-Marc Louis, who paints on vintage canvas, is held in antique frames, and a pair of bronze sconces are sculptural highlights when paired with crisp rectilinear sofas and low tables whose trays can be removed to double as luggage racks for visiting guests.

The master bedroom on the opposite end of the home is dressed in shades of cream, and the similarly toned wallpaper brings warmth to the walls. Long, sheer drapery fabric feels like what Desio describes as “an Emily Brontë moment, where the terrace doors open and the curtains are flowing. It’s light and romantic.” Meanwhile, says Villalobos, the four-poster bed offers a little more structure and takes advantage of the vertical space. It also lends a sense of gravitas, complementing the Colonial artwork in gilded frames and bringing a sense of history to the room, where the client didn’t want antiques. The terrace, which wraps one side of the condo, leads from the master up to the dining area, and a planting of evergreens gives it an interesting and colorful vegetative wall.

“We really tried to make sure that old and new continued throughout the apartment,” says Desio. Noting the storied backdrop of The Plaza and the homeowners’ leanings toward more contemporary design, the designer says of the project, “That juxtaposition is what we are all about.”

— Liz Arnold

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