Just as a virtuoso violinist can play a pop ballad as well as a concerto without missing a note, so too can a designer stray from his signature style. For this Manhattan pied-à-terre, designer Mark D. Sikes scaled back his exuberant take on traditional interiors in favor of a modern aesthetic. “Admittedly, it’s not what I’m known for, but I’m always led by the architecture and this space called for something more minimal,” he says. “In this case, it would not have been appropriate to bring in lots of patterns and trims.”
Located in a historic 1906 building where Chelsea meets Greenwich Village, the condo had noteworthy features—namely, wood floors, soaring ceilings and a large arched window framing cityscape views. Less fortunately, a 1980s renovation that had stripped away much of its original character. The clients, a pair of San Francisco Bay Area empty nesters, wished to update the space in a way that honored the integrity of the building. At the same time, they knew it needed to work as a comfortable spot for family members to stay when in town. “We wanted to give it a cohesive story as a space and make it really inviting,” notes the wife.
While the overall layout remained untouched, one bedroom was reconfigured to serve as a library and two bathrooms were completely gutted and renovated. The team also overhauled the galley kitchen, refacing kitchen cabinets and installing crisp white marble countertops and new appliances. “The clients wanted to bring things up to speed, but didn’t want the shock of something totally new, which we were able to accomplish from both a construction standpoint and from Mark’s vision,” says general contractor Giancarlo De Lellis, who Sikes handpicked for the job after collaborating on a Kips Bay Show House. “Giancarlo was on the ground handling the renovation, which enabled me to be creative,” says Sikes. “He really made the project easy for our team and the client.”
Particular attention was paid to creating continuity from room to room, which Sikes achieved by carrying cerused oak finishes throughout and opting for a mix of metals across lighting and hardware. “Because so much of the apartment is open, we wanted to make selections that were more minimal in appearance, so it looks great from various vantage points,” he explains.
Functionality was also key for the clients, who would be using the apartment for both business and pleasure. For instance, the dining area features a space-saving tufted leather banquette and two expandable smaller tables, giving them more flexible space for working, eating or entertaining. To ensure the dining alcove is as pretty as it is practical, Sikes lined the back wall with shimmery textured paper as a nod to the glittery skyline outside. “A metallic surface adds a bit of reflection; it mirrors the shine of the skyscrapers,” he says. “We added these subtly glamourous elements because it’s New York and you want to feel chic and a little moody.”
But while Sikes used such design touches to pay homage to the cosmopolitan environs, he also wanted to create a calming refuge from it. To convey a palliative aura, the designer relied on soothing colors and subtle patterns, such as the main bedroom’s comforting medley of watery textiles. “The bedrooms especially feel ethereal while continuing the palette of the rest of the apartment,” he says, adding, “I think everyone should feel serene in their home.”
Because the clients wanted the interiors to reflect their California coastal roots too, Sikes made sure to blend warm shades of cream and chestnut with pops of his favorite hue: blue. And while there may not be a hint of chintz or chinoiserie in sight, there are plenty of Sikes trademarks. “Our design signatures are still there, but they’re more subtle. There are skirted chairs, natural fiber rugs and beautiful layers, just more restraint,” he says.
Sikes is quick to note that the pared down look isn’t a complete departure. “When a home speaks to you, no matter what style, you want to respond accordingly.”