Tour a Soaring Chelsea Condo with an Ode to Art
The woman who owns the duplex apartment featured on these pages uses it as a second home, but many expressive faces keep watch around the clock—that is, in the form of sculptural heads and figurines from Eurasia and Central Africa. Although some date from the Bronze Age, all have settled in quite nicely in this decidedly 21st-century abode. “My client wanted this space to be all about her collection of art, everything from ancient Bactrian artifacts to Damien Hirst butterflies,” says Mar Silver, the decorator behind the project. The assortment is indeed quite varied, featuring contemporary works by artists such as Vik Muniz, Tom Fleischhauer, and Swedish photographer Mikael Jansson, which sit alongside antique pottery and objets d’art from around the world. “I’ve acquired a lot of the pieces that appear in the apartment, as I’ve done for her primary residence in Connecticut. The New York place is flexible enough to serve as an extension of her collection. Items can go back and forth between her homes and fit in perfectly in either locale.”
When Silver’s client purchased the apartment, it was a raw, unembellished shell. The decorator made a dramatic and crucial structural change, erecting a floor-to-ceiling wall abutting a narrow staircase that leads to the master suite and office. Adding to the drama and further delineating the interiors: a handsome chimney surround made of striated oak, which partially shields the kitchen. “By incorporating these changes, and also putting in glass half walls on the second level, we created distinct environments both upstairs and downstairs,” says Silver. “The apartment is very tall and narrow, and I intentionally devised separate living areas that wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. Now there’s a fluidity in how everything links up.”
Apart from designing deep shelves that run floor to ceiling in the 20-foot-high living room and in the upstairs office (the client’s vast collection required a substantial amount of display space), Silver was also charged with fostering a sense of serenity in the hyper-modern building on the edge of West Chelsea’s arts district. The two-bedroom unit takes in both downtown and uptown views and is unapologetically urban, but its peacefulness suggests sleepy suburb more than center of the universe. “In every project I do,” says Silver, “I want to make sanctuaries for my clients.”
The decorator typically sticks to neutral shades, and in this apartment, a soothing, soft gray unifies the walls and most surfaces. “A muted palette allows the art to speak,” the designer suggests, “and a certain tranquility comes through the various textures and subtle tones.” Silver’s custom furniture designs and textiles are amply employed throughout, notably in the master bedroom. There, a platform bed of her design includes a ledge for displaying more art. And although the home’s light fixtures “are very strong and sculptural” (many date from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s), Silver stuck to her end goal of “imparting a sense of calm everywhere,” despite the drama that emanates from large windows and three terraces framing vistas of the Hudson River, Midtown, and the looming new towers of Hudson Yards. “The views speak for themselves. The interiors accomplish something else by being quiet.”
A version of this article appeared in the November 2018 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Soaring Success.