Designer Marie-Christine McNally Creates a Sleek, Seductive, Utterly Urban Bachelor Pad in NoHo
It was only 20 or so years ago that NoHo emerged as a true Manhattan neighborhood. The new handle was briefer and hipper-sounding than “North of Houston,” the region roughly defined from East Ninth Street to the north, Houston Street to the south, Mercer Street to the west, and the Bowery to the east. For a brief time, people priced out of SoHo and Greenwich Village found happy refuge in the former factory and industrial spaces lining NoHo’s somewhat gritty streets, a loose grid that was never really on the map until suddenly it was, marketed heavily by real estate companies and given over, seemingly overnight, to a burgeoning crowd of young professionals looking for a place to call home.
One of those young professionals had been lured by the promise of the newly trendy NoHo when he first moved to New York 15 years ago, so he settled right in. Recently, when the opportunity arose to buy an apartment in a freshly rehabbed building nearby, he jumped at the chance to increase his living space without leaving the neighborhood that had become so familiar.
But the busy investment executive had little time for decorating his new digs. After seeing the work of designer Marie-Christine McNally in a friend’s Tribeca residence, he commissioned her to orchestrate the space’s transformation. “My client had never worked with a designer before, and he wanted to take his time and do it right,” McNally says. “He contacted me just prior to closing so we could start to fine-tune the decor right away.”
McNally, the principal of Marie-Christine Design, was raised by a mother who worked in the antiques business, an upbringing that exposed her to the decorating world from a young age. After a stint in advertising, she had a change of heart and transitioned to interiors, launching her company in 2008. Although her job often takes her farther afield—to such locations as Hawaii and Texas—the bulk of her work is concentrated in New York.
For this project, McNally’s game plan was relatively easy to map out: With 3,640 square feet, floor-to-ceiling windows on the northern and southern exposures, hardwood floors, and fireplaces in both the kitchen’s sitting area and the master bedroom, the place had the potential to be the ultimate modern bachelor pad. Even better, except for the developer’s finishes, it was an empty shell.
While McNally worked out the apartment’s logistics, her client willingly lived in the space with next to nothing for months, save for clothing, a bed, and a TV. The floor plan was fluid, with the living room flowing into the dining area and an adjacent sitting area and kitchen, followed by a media room and bedrooms beyond. “We started by looking at inspirational images, and then moved on to furniture and fabric selections,” says the designer. “It’s a pretty straightforward process, but it helped us both get an understanding of the nuances of the space.”
Clean, fresh, and minimalist was the general idea, with dashes of luxury here and there. McNally’s vision was a decidedly urban one, starting with the dining room table, which has a skyscraper-like base inspired by the New York skyline. A custom silk rug and a pair of Poliform sofas in the living room feature gray tonalities that wouldn’t fly in a country-cozy abode. In the windowless media room—a sleek man cave, to be sure—McNally covered the walls in a wool and cashmere fabric, all the better to show off a Domingo Zapata work depicting James Bond.
Great art was a major focus throughout. McNally’s client opted for works by David Drebin for the master bedroom, as well as pieces by Russell Young, Damien Hirst, Austyn Weiner, and Rush Zimmerman. Today the apartment is “a marriage of uber-luxury and city chic,” McNally comments. “It’s a real home for a man of good taste.”
A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue of New York Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Downtown Drama.