A move to New York City often comes early in life with nothing but a suitcase in hand and a dream in heart. But for a couple who had lived most of their married life in rural New Jersey, the impetus arrived when their three grown children left the nest. “We were figuring out what we were going to do with the rest of our lives,” the wife recalls. Having lived briefly in New York City after graduating from college, she had long pined for a return to the West Village, and so, it seemed serendipitous when they came upon a gracious corner condo unit with 11-foot ceilings and a primo location.
The move came with a fresh start design-wise. After putting all the furnishings from their former home into storage, the couple hired designer Timothy Brown to devise a sleek, downtown ethos befitting of their new chapter. “They had a vision of how they wanted to live in a city apartment,” Brown notes. “We wanted to use rich wood tones and pops of color to build a playful yet sophisticated environment.” Adds the wife, “Our home in New Jersey was a mishmash of different design styles that all sort-of worked together. In New York, I wanted something with a little bit more style that was energetic and artistic.”
A sense of energy and distinct point of view are apparent immediately upon entering the apartment, thanks to Brown’s decision to panel the foyer in sheets of laminated, textured mirrored glass—a herculean task executed by builder Gareth McQuaid. Inwardly situated, the thoroughfare called for something dramatic yet practical. “It was all about how we could add a little more light and sparkle,” he explains. “It’s glamorous, but not too glamorous—and it makes the space feel so much bigger.”
It was the smoky undertones of the mirrored glass foyer that inspired the unexpected hits of purple, pink and blue which would lace the home together. To offset the traditionally feminine hues found in focal details like the aubergine drapes in the great room and magenta rugs in the hallway, the designer stuck to dark wood and upholstered pieces with strong, clean lines set against a sea of moody grays and textured whites. Venetian plaster, felt, and grasscloth treatments imbue the walls with visual depth while providing a neutral canvas for the couple’s compelling art additions—many of which are large-scale photographic works curated by art consultant Ann Yaffe Phillips—to take center stage.
Technically a three-bedroom apartment, the clients opted for a different configuration—one that would play to their daily routines as a household of two versus five. Alongside Brown, plans were made for an airy master bedroom flanked by posh his-and-hers offices, each outfitted with a sofa that pulls out to a comfortable bed when the children or friends pay them a visit.
Another decadent decision: the dining area-adjacent dry bar, which Brown fashioned around a cumbersome structural column. Filling the formerly dead nook, the walnut-topped Corian bar does double duty as a cocktail hub by evening and a casual breakfast spot by morning. “It’s so simple, but so perfect,” the wife shares. “I always marvel at how Timothy made something beautiful out of nothing.”
Since the wife was particularly attuned to the sensory experience of each living space, Brown had much of the furniture custom made. The bedside tables, for example, are within optimum reach of their raised smart mattress, and her office desk and chair allow for her to sit cross-legged in meditation. It was equally important that all textiles—from the rugs underfoot to the throw pillows on sofas—be exceptionally soft and tactile.
While indeed a fresh start for the couple, Brown is quick to clarify that the new city roost is a thorough reflection of their personalities. “She’ll wear a white t-shirt and leather jacket while arranging flowers,” Brown shares of the wife, likening her own “edgy sophistication” to the finished feel of the apartment itself. “It’s refined,” he adds of his handiwork, “but it’s fun, too.”