In 2007, when a New York couple was looking to move, they knew they wanted a place on the Upper West Side, where the husband (who works in finance) had grown up. They were drawn to The Beresford, along the Gold Coast of Central Park West. The historic coop—built by Emery Roth in 1929—has counted celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe and Harvey Weinstein as residents.
The couple found not one, but two high-floor apartments for sale at the same time, one on top of the other. They purchased both, with the intention of creating a supersize modern duplex and the knowledge that it would be a difficult endeavor. Luckily, though, they had designer Jennifer Post on their side, who would oversee every aspect of the two-year-long gut renovation down to the smallest detail, while also managing a dizzying array of board approvals from the notoriously strict coop. “It took many schematic designs to educate the board that a modern floor plan would work in this building,” says Post.
Passionate, energetic and relentlessly cheerful, Post set about transforming the two dark, dreary, prewar apartments into a single modern gem—one that could accommodate a spectacular contemporary art collection of blue-chip artists such as Roxy Paine, Julian Opie, Gregory Crewdson, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.
“I met with the clients and said, ‘The space needs volume, light, drama—and really great interior architecture.’ It needed a ‘wow’ factor,” recalls Post. “My ultimate vision was to create a solid connection between the floors by using an incredible main staircase, which would serve as the vertical spinal cord of the home.” That staircase, made of limestone (as is the flooring throughout), and its railing cap, with its dark-stained wood and metal stringer blackened to reflect the custom design by Post, is now a spectacular centerpiece.
Architect John B. Murray, whose firm also worked on the residence along with contractor Peter Cosola, recalls one of the project’s biggest challenges: “maximizing the height of the new suspended plaster ceilings while seamlessly integrating state-of-the-art lighting, motorized shades, sliding door tracks, and mechanical system ductwork.” He adds: “It was incredibly satisfying to successfully frame the large opening between the two separate apartments, creating the significant stairway that descends to the dais. It was exciting to see this special connection come to life within a historic co-op—the visual opening up of these once separate spaces.”
Step into the inviting, expansive, light-flooded home, and the grand atrium at the Museum of Modern Art comes to mind. You might be greeted by Fred, the effusive family dog, or one of the couple’s two young boys. Then you can admire the gorgeous art collection—including a dramatic black painting at the entryway by Jason Martin, and on the stairway wall, a geometric diptych, Phoenix by Sarah Morris, bridging the dual levels with a burst of joyful colors.
The vibe of the home is happy and serene, which is exactly what the owners dreamed of—and why they hired Post. “Jennifer creates clean, open apartments that aren’t too austere, which I think is rare,” says the wife. “Our apartment has a very approachable feel. We wanted it to be a white, blank canvas, so we could use the art as our color.”
For its part, the artwork does double duty, also offering guests a glimpse into the homeowners’ personalities and sense of style—much in the same way that a carefully curated library does. Although the owner says she and her husband have assembled a collection of works that resonate with them, her hope is that visitors will enjoy their own meaningful moments with the pieces. “I love the way that art can transport you,” she says. And she speaks from experience, as her home is itself a wondrous work of art.