A Luscious Pied-à-Terre with A Sense of Humor

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Culture Club in Manhattan

For his bicoastal client, a San Francisco designer creates a pitch-perfect pied-à-terre that exudes old New York.

Owner Chiang discovered what he was looking for in a one-bedroom apartment in a 1912 building on the West Side. The designers of the building, brothers George Blum and Edward Blum, had become famous for blending Arts and Crafts style with the tile, terra cotta and glazed or tinted brick they encountered in Paris while studying architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts. “I was impressed with the authenticity of the building—and this unit in particular,” Chiang recalls. 

Old New York Entryway with Sconce and Chair

Picking up on the apartment’s period details, Stallings decided to embrace an aesthetic reminiscent of the venerable men’s clubs that proliferated in England and America in a bygone era. “But we made it less stuffy,” he says. “The whole apartment doesn’t take itself too seriously.” Maps, for example—a staple of men’s club décor—appear throughout but in less literal (and sometimes downright funny) incarnations. The entry hall, for instance, features a grouping of vintage maps and cityscape prints hung salón-style—and closer inspection shows the prankish artist has inserted science-fiction characters into them. A painting above the living room sofa resembles a sonar map, and the enigmatic imagery of two collages (from David King’s Talisman series) by the bed could be referencing cell clusters as much as aerial views of islands. 

One wall in the entryway displays Matthew Buchholz’s Alternate Histories series—vintage maps and etchings of cities into which the artist has playfully inserted sci-fi monsters, zombies and robots. An E.F. Chapman sconce from
Circa Lighting hangs above a vintage Russian-style klismos chair from Tradesmen in San Francisco.

Antique Storage Chest in the Entryway

To accent the rooms, Stallings turned to color that was clean and contemporary. “My color inspiration was autumn in New York, when it’s the most fun to be here,” he says. “All the parties are happening, leaves are changing, the temperature is great and there’s a crispness in the air. There is something about deep rich tones that suits the East Coast.” Rather than using a different color to accentuate such architectural details as egg-and-dart moldings and wainscoting, Stallings painted everything a rosy mauve, which he describes as having “the luscious texture of chocolate milk.” There are subtle variations to the color’s values, depending on whether it graces paneling, bare wall or molding, yet overall it reads as one hue. 

For the entryway of a Manhattan pied-à-terre, designer
Ian Stallings purchased an antique Italian secretary at Antique & Art Exchange in San Francisco. Illuminating the space from above is a Suzanne Kasler ceiling fixture from Circa Lighting. In the foreground is a turn-of-the-last-century mahogany table from Epoca, also in San Francisco.

Living Room with Geometric Accents Mixed with Classical Architecture

Overt nods to the era of the building can be found in many of the American and European antiques as well as the overhead light fixtures in the living room and bedroom. But other pieces reference the 1910s with a sly, knowing wit, such as the living room rug that evokes a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style pattern blown up to a larger scale.

Though most of the furnishings are recently acquired, certain touches made the bicoastal leap from San Francisco, functioning as touchstones that remind Chiang of home. The blue sofa, for instance, picks up the palette of his West Coast abode.

Archipelago, Colleen Flaherty’s sonar map-inspired painting, hangs in the living room above a custom sofa by Ian Stallings Design upholstered in
Clarence House velvet with Edelman welt trim. Clarence House’s herringbone fabric covers the custom Ian Stallings Design ottomans, while Jan Showers’ Paris chairs from Michael Taylor Designs in San Francisco are swathed in an Etro plaid. On the floor, Inigo Elizalde’s rug recalls the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Prewar Stained Glass with Delaware Dining Chairs

The apartment also boasts sartorial touches throughout, mainly in men’s suiting fabrics used on various furnishings. The bed is attired in a wool-flannel windowpane pattern, and living room chairs are suited in a tweedy plaid that brings to mind a Burberry coat; herringbone covers custom ottomans. Even the shapes of the furnishings, such as the tuxedo arms of the sofa, appear expertly trim and fitted. 

Brusic Rose’s Delaware dining chairs pull up to a 1930s table near the living room’s stained glass window placed here from another part of the building by the former owner, a restorer of prewar buildings. Zak+Fox’s Kesa fabric, a cotton-linen print inspired by Japanese Buddhist robes, was used for the custom Ian Stallings Design draperies.

Kitchen Peek Through a Doorway

Thanks to Stallings’ astute awareness of his client, Chiang’s apartment now looks and feels like a finely tailored suit custom-made for a true gentleman. As proof of just how in sync designer and client are, the atmosphere Stallings created—unbeknownst to him—uncannily ended up being a dead ringer for the private club ambience of Anderson & Sheppard, one of the London haberdasheries Chiang frequents. “The wall color is the same, maybe off by only one or two degrees,” marvels Stallings, who has never set foot in the shop. 

Flanking the entry to the kitchen are a framed handmade vintage paper piece and a mirror from
RH. Kitchen cabinetry sporting Bauerware unlacquered brass pulls surrounds a DeLonghi gas range.

Mint Green Wallpaper Bedroom with Painted Abstract Ceiling

The wallpaper on the bedroom ceiling is reminiscent of the work of Piero Fornasetti, who was inspired by turn-of-the-century engravings. The cloud-like wallpaper in the bedroom, while a different scale and colorway, is like that of his dining room in California. “I love that it looks like an etching,” Chiang says. “It’s so dramatic, and it takes me to a dream place.” 

Between the Inigo Elizalde rug and a ceiling papered in
Cole & Son’s Fornasetti collection Nuvolette wallpaper stands a bed from Plantation in San Francisco dressed in men’s wool suiting. Holly Hunt mohair covers the antique English wingchair from Coup D’Etat in San Francisco. Atop the Williams-Sonoma console is a Ralph Lauren Home Sabrina lamp from Circa Lighting.

San Francisco-based designer Ian Stallings describes his client, 47-year-old technology transactions lawyer Darryl Chiang, as an old-fashioned gentleman. “He always wears bespoke suits with a pocket square and cuff links,” he says. “In a world of T-shirts and jeans, he stands out in the best possible way.” 

Stallings had emphasized his client’s dapper style when he first worked with Chiang on his San Francisco house, creating a home that was modern and neatly tailored with lots of blue and gray—much like his client’s suits, which Chiang has custom-made on London’s Savile Row. But Stallings’ design for Chiang’s Manhattan pied-à-terre required something a little different. “I’m the son of immigrants from China who lost their home,” Chiang explains. “My yearning for some sense of rootedness and my realization that I am American made me appreciate Western traditional architecture, and it also made me want a home that would evoke New York in the prewar period.” 

Now married, Chiang had offered to paint the walls of his former bachelor pad to help his wife feel at home. But after mulling it over, he says, “she kept an open mind to experiencing Ian’s original vision—another reason I know I’m with the right partner!” 

–Jorge S. Arango

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