A Modern Manhattan Townhouse with Bright, Statement-Making Artwork


Like unicorns of the design community, clients who trust their designer enough to give him free reign of their home are a rare treasure to behold—a mythical gift to be celebrated and appreciated. For his part, designer Kerry Delrose can’t seem to get over his luck at being paired with the young, easygoing couple who commissioned him to outfit their newly renovated Upper East Side townhome. “They were good, great, super,” he gushes. “We had one meeting, and they said, ‘We’ve seen your stuff, and we believe in you. Do your thing.’ If every client was like that, I would just jump for joy.”

Delrose’s homeowner jackpot, however, didn’t end there. Before bringing the designer on board, the husband had amassed a large art collection full of works from major players such as Picasso, Damien Hirst and David Salle. It was these masterpieces, paired with the classic architectural details that prevail throughout the home, that informed Delrose’s vision for the main living areas. To keep the focus on the bright, statement-making canvases, he worked in neutrals, keeping the walls and upholstery light and creamy to avoid clashing. “I didn’t want it to be austere like an art gallery,” he says, “but I didn’t want a lot of colorful things that would fight the art.”

The exception, of course, is in the home’s family room, where an over-the-top Paul Smith rug and Missoni pillows refuse to blend in alongside the oversize and effervescent Kenny Scharf painting. It was a risky choice but appropriate for a home that achieves its balance in embracing the unexpected. “There are a lot of surprise elements,” says the designer, pointing to super traditional touches such as molding, dentils and original masonry fireplaces that were preserved from the original residence before it got a loving facelift from architect Joseph Pell Lombardi. The duo strove to maintain the authenticity of the structure’s architecture—originally constructed in the late 1800s—while making it more convenient for contemporary living. “You would think that with all of this history, the home would be more traditional, but we really took it to another level,” says Delrose. “The homeowners liked clean lines. They’re young and hip, and it shows.”

The living room is a fine example of eschewing architectural formality. While the original parquet floors are intact and beautiful, the sleek silhouettes of the furnishings are surprisingly of the modern age— the long, narrow Dennis Miller sofa that looks demure beneath the stunning Picasso and the two custom coffee tables that are the perfect landing spots for overflowing platters during the couple’s many soirees. The dining table from Baker is also a boon to their love of entertaining, comfortably seating 16. Despite all of the crisp lines and new additions, though, Delrose still found a way to incorporate a little bit of history: the husband’s. The dining chairs once belonged to his childhood home and were a gift from his mother. The designer had them refinished with a few coats of black lacquer and upholstered in fresh fabric from Holly Hunt. “The chairs had been in the family for over 40 years, and the homeowner told me he hated them as a little kid,” laughs Delrose. “He loves them now, though!”

Happily, they weren’t the only things that struck the couple’s fancy. “We did a grand reveal, and they were thrilled. All of the things they weren’t sure would work came together beautifully and were some of the things they loved the most.” Delrose, however, was slightly more particular: “I think the whole place is fabulous, but I’m obsessed with the white plaster chandelier in the family room. If they hadn’t been able to find a place for it, I would have snagged it for myself!”

—Brielle M. Ferreira