Continuing a theme from my previous appearance on Selling New York, in the April 22nd episode I had a chance to focus on identifying and addressing the inherent “energy” of the apartment that I was tasked to sell. An apartment, house or any kind of home acquires its energy not only from its own history, but from the histories—the experiences, goals, aspirations, obstacles and anxieties—of the people who live in it, as well as of their guests, their neighbors and, dare I say, their brokers. I was educated in the existence and power of this type of energy by my friend and colleague Reginald Arthur, who for years has studied the energies of individuals, their homes and their environments. Almost as soon as I took over the listing of an apartment at 50 Gramercy Park North, I brought Reggie in to help promote the residence’s positive energies. Similar to the penthouse (at 350 West 23rd Street) featured in my previous episode, the one at 50 Gramercy is a relatively new construction and its current occupants have lived there for less than three years. Reggie and I have come to understand that new developments often attract and absorb negative forces that accompany the building process: the stresses of financing, the convulsions of construction, the uncertainties of the marketplace in which the apartments are sold. Furthermore, the 50 Gramercy project incorporates an old New York hotel that has hosted many unusual guests over the years, each of whom contributes his or her own energy to the bones of the building. All of these factors, if sufficiently negative, can create a pall that, on a certain level, deters buyers. Reggie identified this immediately and took measures to reverse its effects. He tries to help homes release negative energies from dark periods in their histories by assisting their owners and brokers in doing the same. In other words, if the people who live and pass through an apartment are able to expel their negative energies, so too will those energies be expelled from the apartment itself, resulting in a space that is brighter and more attractive to prospective buyers. Whether or not they believe in the veracity of Reggie’s methods, my sellers (and I) are always filled with confidence by his presence and charisma. And, after all, isn’t confidence just another form of positive energy?
One of the challenges of showing an unfurnished unit in a new construction is that prospective buyers have a hard time visualizing what the apartment might look like when they are living in it. It has never been occupied and therefore doesn’t have the character or energy of a space that has been called “home,” so buyers are skeptical. As the date approached for the filming of Penthouse A at 350 West 23rd Street for HGTV’s new series “Selling New York,” I faced this exact challenge—and, after conferring with CORE’s CEO, Shaun Osher, I decided that the best way to handle it was to stage the apartment. Staging is a delicate task: If done in a careless way, the design can look contrived and can misrepresent the space. Not only must the furnishings chosen for staging fit the space in terms of size; they must also complement the angles, materials and textures of the apartment as well as draw in the natural landscape beyond the unit’s windows and terraces. The latter point is especially important in a space such as Penthouse A, with its broad floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive terraces and park views. I chose my pieces the way buyers choose their furniture and artwork when preparing to settle in to a home for many years or generations. I followed an aesthetic that reflected the unique vibe of Chelsea—modern and sophisticated yet warm and approachable. I owe a great debt to Laurie Messman and her team at Ligne Roset, who provided pieces that perfectly captured the look and feel I was going for. One of Laurie’s brilliant ideas was to borrow artwork and music memorabilia from the Sony Archives. The fact that she was able to secure historic platinum records, limited-edition photographs of famous musicians and entertainers such as Jimi Hendrix and Ertha Kitt, and classic guitars was an enormous feat. I recall thinking that the buyer I was searching for “could hang his own guitar in its place,” and while the buyer from the episode did not have a guitar herself, I imagined that perhaps one day her son would hang his there. In upcoming episodes of “Selling New York” I deal with other aspects of this “home energy,” of which staging is just one part. Tune in and enjoy!