Italian Elegance Brings A Prewar Penthouse Up To Date


contemporary living room fireplace blue...

One of Carrier's objectives was to work in some of the residents' existing pieces. In the formal living area, he placed their skirted split-back club chairs and tufted-leather ottoman atop a hand-knotted, braided abaca rug by Doris Leslie Blau.

contemporary staircase brown

A sweeping curved staircase ushers residents through the entry of an Upper West Side penthouse by interior designer Jesse Carrier. References to 1930s New York and Milan throughout the home include the Jules Leleu mahogany armchair with gilt-bronze sabots from Maison Gerard. The polished plaster walls are by Jonas Everets.

contemporary living area yellow armchairs...

Awash in light, the casual living area is a mix of European finds, including Scandinavian armchairs and a 1945 French mahogany pedestal table with mahogany armchairs, both by Maison Leleu from Maison Gerard. The marble-slab waterfall table was custom made with remnant stone from the master bathroom.

contemporary dining area vintage tab;e

The residents' vintage Saarinen table centers the dining area, where a dozen 1930s Jean-Michel Frank chairs--sourced from a Christie's auction--make for a "compelling and eclectic" pairing, Carrier says. On the wall is one of James Turrell's light boxes.

contemporary neutral brown kitchen wood...

Custom kitchen cabinetry fabricated by MZ Woodwork and installed by C-Squared Contracting features a white-bronze finish that honors the Moderne era, as does the homeowners' 1930s C.J. Weinstein pendant. Select Door made the decorative doors; fine wood floors throughout are by I.J. Peiser's Sons.

contemporary living room floating wall...

Architects Calvin Tsao and Richard Rhodes created a floating wall between the living area's formal and casual spaces. In the latter, a custom L-shaped sofa in woven Chapas Textiles fabric lends softness in a neutral palette, as does the woven alpaca rug, deferring focus to the Robert Mangold artwork. "The artwork becomes part of the space and architecture," Carrier says.

contemporary neutral bedroom canopy bed...

With its clean lines and classic shape, the clients' custom Carlton House mahogany four-poster bed--dressed in a Robert Kime Belgian linen from John Rosselli & Associates--centers the master bedroom. A pair of Circa Lighting pendants with linen shades cast a glow over custom lacquered-wood bedside tables from Furniture Place. The bordered wool rug is by Beauvais.

The homeowners' George III chest-on-chest...

The homeowners' George III chest-on-chest brings a historic moment to the master bedroom. Their club chair and ottoman were reupholstered in a textured beige-and-cream linen-blend weave by Arnitex.

exterior terrace Central Park

The two-story prewar penthouse, which overlooks Central Park, features Italian Renaissance motifs and terraces with wrought-iron railings.

They brought a few pieces they cherished,” says interior designer Jesse Carrier of his clients’ existing and beloved furniture, including an oval Saarinen table, a mahogany four-poster bed by Carlton House, bergeres that were re-upholstered in linen, and an impressive art collection, colorful and bold. They also loved to travel, and wanted to express their ties to Italy. “Our challenge was to incorporate them and make them work within a more contemporary shell,” he says.

Prewar apartments are treasured for their historic details–not their outdated floor plans. So the residents called on architect Calvin Tsao and his colleague, Richard Rhodes, along with builder Rob Carpenter, to open up to space–“a process of decluttering,” says Carrier. High-polish plaster walls, sleek molding, and white-bronze metals reference 1930s New York and Milan, giving the architectural envelope a contemporary look with historic substance. Quoting Coco Chanel, Tsao says, “Elegance is refusal. We worked hard to edit down to essences.”

Carrier created a dialogue between old and new, formal and informal. He juxtaposed the French bergeres with a more casual braided-fiber rug by Doris Leslie Blau, and the Saarinen found a new home encircled by 1930s Jean-Michel Frank chairs snapped up at auction. It’s an example he says of “a design dynamic that works together in that setting. It’s very compelling.”