A Transitional New York City Duplex with Spacious Terraces


Transitional Blue Bedroom with French Ceramic Lamps

Continuing the home’s recurring blue theme, the master bedroom walls are upholstered in Pierre Frey’s Antigua in Aqua. The custom rug is by Rosemary Hallgarten from ALT for Living. The bed, custom-designed by Fox-Nahem, is upholstered in Kerry Joyce Textiles’ Diamante fabric. French ceramic lamps by George Pelletier with custom shades flank the bed.

Transitional Neutral Bathroom with Brazilian Marble Walls

The master bathroom had been clad in dramatic blue-and-beige Brazilian marble the first time around—with the Fox-Nahem team custom-designing the vanity and medicine cabinet—so little had to be done in the reinvention of the apartment. The sinks and faucet fixtures are by Waterworks.

Transitional Neutral Terrace with Wood Planter Boxes

The two terraces had been overgrown, so the team set out to tame them. They are now outfitted with new furniture, new planters and new plants.

Transitional Neutral Terrace with City Views

On the main terrace sits a Laszlo extendable table, topped with reverse-painted glass, by Janus et Cie, which was also the source of the Branch armchairs.

Transitional Neutral Powder Room with Black Vanity

The powder room’s facelift consisted of new wallcovering—Crezana’s Dolce Vita grass cloth with aluminum studs; the 1960s resin mirror is from France. The vanity boasts a vintage chrome base outfitted with a black Corian countertop.

Transitional Gray Den with Antique Coffee Table

In the den, the team was able to get a little more playful. The custom-designed sofa by Fox-Nahem was reupholstered in Toyine Sellers’ custom-woven fabric. The same fabric, in a different weave, was used for the draperies. The 1950s coffee table is Brazilian rosewood with a glass top, and the 1948 antique rug is from Sweden.

Transitional Neutral Kitchen Blue-Lacquered Cabinetry

The kitchen needed a more thorough makeover, accomplished by replacing and re-facing cabinet doors with a high-gloss lacquer, installing new Corian countertops in Glacier White and upgrading appliances. Fox-Nahem custom-designed the walnut shelves.

Transitional White Breakfast Room with Oval Dining Table

Fox-Nahem custom-designed the breakfast room’s oval dining table using Glacier White Corian on the base and top, with trim in Russet Tropical wood laminate. The dining chairs are 1950s Pierre Guariche. Fox-Nahem then reupholstered the vintage banquette by Osvaldo Borsani in Pollack’s Al Fresco fabric in Mousse.

Transitional White Living Room with Bronze Bar

The bronze bar in the living room, which features hand-cast supports and leather front panels, was custom-designed by Fox-Nahem, creating a dramatic focal point in the living room. It was fabricated by Plant Construction.

Transitional Neutral Dining Room with Gilded-Iron Dining Chairs

In the dining room, Fox-Nahem reupholstered the 1948 André Arbus gilded-iron dining chairs in a woven leather and Lurex fabric, with trim in Maharam’s black Horsehair Striae. The table was custom-designed by Fox-Nahem, finished with a high- gloss metallic silver automobile- grade lacquer. The 1950s Jules Leleu chandelier, with two types of glass, is painted gilt bronze.

Transitional White Living Room with Terrace Access

For the living room, Fox-Nahem custom-designed a sofa with a handmade bronze base and a back upholstered in Stark’s Lugano Rye fabric while covering the seat cushion in Toyine Sellers’ custom- woven fabric with leather and Lurex. The 1940s coffee table has a Dore bronze base and Saint-Gobain glass top. The untitled painting by Chris Martin serves as a focal point.

Transitional Neutral Dining Room with French Buffet

European influences can be seen throughout the formal dining room. The large 1937 French buffet, crafted of rosewood and brass from Jean Royère, was purchased in Paris. On it are midcentury Tommi Parzinger candlesticks; a Line Vautrin mirror hovers above. The antique Grey Barr limestone tiles from Paris Ceramics were refinished.

Transitional White Dining Room with French Stone Fireplace

The dining room floors—antique Grey Barr limestone from Paris Ceramics—remained, but were refinished by Mansfield, yet the 18th-century French Louis XVI stone fireplace surround didn’t need a thing. The overall look is subdued but not restrictive.

It wasn’t that the first time around wasn’t good enough. Thirteen years ago, designer Joe Nahem created a haven for a then-childless couple on the 11th and 12th floors of a 140-unit family-owned apartment building in Chelsea, but over time, the couple added a girl and twin boys to their family. To transform the apartment into a larger, more baby-friendly space, the couple annexed an 800-square-foot apartment, creating a more spacious 5,500-square-foot five-bedroom home, and as the children approached the tween phase, “they wanted to update, upgrade and refresh,” says Nahem.

The owners decided to undergo what one of them calls a “cosmetic renovation.” The catch: It had to be done while the family was away for the summer. Nahem and his team, who had also designed the couple’s Hamptons house, their corporate offices and their mother’s and sister’s homes, had 10 weeks to reinvent the apartment. “When they came home after Labor Day, it had to be 100 percent finished,” says Nahem. Well aware of the tight time constraint—they had taken on a project that would normally span at least six months—general contractor James Mansfield oversaw the operation. “To make it work we broke it down into multiple pieces and broke those pieces down with multiple subcontractors,” says Mansfield, who hired four cabinetmakers, two flooring companies, two tile companies and two plaster companies. The latter were responsible for almost $250,000 worth of Venetian plaster. “There were about 12 varieties, colors, finishes and glazes of plaster, and we had to match the existing exactly while replacing all of it,” says Mansfield. A little healthy competition pushed the project ahead. The eight to 12 plasterers working there daily “turned it into a beauty contest,” he adds. “They each wanted to prove what an incredible product they could produce.”

Because of the short time frame, there were no structural changes. Most of the existing furnishings stayed but were reupholstered, with new rugs and draperies splashing a different feel into each space. “Everything in the apartment was re-covered,” says Nahem. “Nothing was left in its original state.” This practicality made sense, not just time-wise, but also in regard to simple convenience. The custom-designed living room sofa, for instance, had to be hoisted in the first time, so instead of replacing it (and hoisting it out), they re-covered it in Stark’s Lugano fabric in Rye and upholstered the cushions in custom-woven leather with Lurex.

In the dining room, the midcentury gilded-iron dining chairs, designed by André Arbus, were also re-covered in leather with Lurex, but with black horsehair trim. “If somebody spills something, it’s a lot more practical than handmade silk,” explains Nahem. Taking an unexpected turn, the team sprayed the existing custom-designed table with an auto-grade high-gloss silver lacquer. “It’s what they use on Mercedes,” says Nahem.

The breakfast room took its cues from the dining room, with the banquette also being redone in woven leather. A wood laminate was inserted in the custom-designed Corian table, and the walls and vintage Pierre Guariche chairs were re-covered. The dining room floors—antique Grey Barr limestone from Paris Ceramics—remained, but were refinished by Mansfield, yet the 18th-century French Louis XVI stone fireplace surround didn’t need a thing. The overall look is subdued but not restrictive. “We agreed we didn’t want to go overboard with color,” says Nahem.

Because the couple has a great art collection and every room on the ground floor opens out to the terraces, the interior had to stand on its own but not compete with the art and scenery. Silvery grays, soft blues and warm taupes dominate the home. “We wanted to keep a neutral palette but not boring beige,” says Nahem. “These are not boring beige people.” In the den, though—the only area closed off from the open plan of the first floor—they got a little bolder. “That was a room where we could get away with a little color,” says Nahem. The custom-designed sofa was reupholstered in Toyine Sellers’ custom-woven fabric with curtains to match in a lighter weave, and the Delfino armchairs got a skin of Italian suede to echo the wall panels; the pillows were covered in royal blue velvet.

The biggest shift was reserved for the kitchen. “After 13 years and three kids, they felt the kitchen needed the most updating,” says Nahem. Cabinet doors were refaced in a high-gloss lacquer and the wood counters replaced with Glacier White Corian. The team replaced the sink, faucet and appliances, and put a stainless-steel backsplash beneath a window overlooking one of two terraces, both of which also received makeovers. “It was a very forest- like terrace,” says the owner—overgrown with trees. In response, landscape architect Alec Gunn and his team changed the planters and plantings, creating a pared-down look that still feels like an urban oasis. “It needed to be cleaned up and simplified,” says Gunn. “I want my clients to use the spaces, not just look at them.”

When the family returned on Labor Day, they were thrilled. “It was like walking into a brand-new home,” the owner says. “I knew when we returned that I would love it just as much, if not more, than the first time.”

Styling by Brenton Wolf
—Lisa Davis