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House of the Day: Building a Home Up High

The Wall Street Journal // Nov 29, 2013

The homeowners combined and renovated two apartments on the 28th and 29th floor in the hopes of creating a ‘ modern town house in the sky.’ The resulting four-bedroom duplex is now on the market for $4.5 million.

Maria Canale and Ty Tessitore purchased two apartments in the Oxford building on East 72nd street in 1998 for $600,000 each, according to public records. With a background in finance, Mr. Tessitore works in business development for SL Advisors, and Ms. Canale is a jewelry designer specializing in fine diamond jewelry, with her own line at Nieman Marcus.

The view from their apartment is shown. Ms. Canale started her own design business 25 years ago and takes advantage of the apartment’s light by using one of the bedrooms attached to the master suite as her design studio. ‘It’s sort of my ground central,’ she said. ‘She does amazing work,’ her husband said. ‘She runs her empire from there.’

The upper floor of the apartment features uniform terrazo flooring and maple panelling. The couple started the gut renovation to combine the two apartments in 2000. The process took 12 months. The couple were already living in the building at the time, and Ms. Canale recalls bringing her son and his friends up to visit the construction site to visit. ‘The construction guys were so great to them,’ she recalled.

‘The objective was to create what we call a modern town house in the sky,’ said Mr. Tessitore, who wanted to take advantage of the 60-feet of east facing windows and 100-feet of south facing windows the combined apartments offered. But ‘unlike most town houses we get sun all day long,’ he said. The kitchen is pictured.

The renovation was overseen by Peter Wiederspahn, an architect based in Massachusetts whose touch extended to the design of the kitchen and staircase. ‘Peter’s very modern in his leanings,’ said Mr. Tessitore. ‘We were very sympatico.’

One of the most significant undertakings of the renovation was making space for the maple and cold rolled steel stairs by cutting through the 14-inch thick concrete floors and installing a steel shoehorn around the cut out to maintain the floor’s tensile strength. The process involved having the plans reviewed and approved by the building’s structural engineer. ‘If you take time up front with structural plans, then things go smoothly,’ Mr. Tessitore said.

A upstairs den, pictured, features a murphy bed with a steel base for guests designed by Mr. Wiederspahn and created by the same steel sculptor in Williamsburg who made the steel elements of the stairs. The home has maple doors with frosted glass to allow the light to diffuse between spaces, the couple said.

The approximately 3,000-square-feet, four-bedroom home has three bathrooms. The master bedroom is pictured. The living spaces are on the upper floor with the bedrooms below. ‘The lower floor is what we call our private sanctuary space,’ said Mr. Tessitore.

The couple describes the upstairs rooms as very modern, while the downstairs spaces are more ‘eclectic.’ They have two children, a daughter, 21, and a son, 18, who are both at college. The couple are selling because they would like to downsize.

The couple was involved in the design process for the combination, down to the choice of door handles and decorative ‘olive knuckle’ hinges from New York company Nanz. ‘If we were to find a new space and not renovate, I’m going to miss that customized selection of materials,’ said Mr. Tessitore. ‘These are the little things that add up.’

Another bedroom in the home is shown. Ms. Canale said she appreciated the building’s amenities, which include a gym, outdoor terrace, basketball court, swimming pool, playground and play room with catering kitchen. ‘It was so easy when [the kids] were young,’ she said.

Ms. Canale said she is particularly fond of the views from the bathrooms. ‘I’ve rarely been in a bathroom in New York City that has beautiful views. That’s probably something I’m going to miss,’ she said.

Mr. Tessitore said that he will miss sitting in the living room, reading the paper and drinking coffee in the morning sun. ‘You don’t feel like you’re inside, you feel like you’re floating in a cruise ship,’ he said. The property was first listed over a year ago with CORE for $4.25 million. It was relisted at the end of September with Alison Abovsky of CORE for $4.5 million.

Original Article: The Wall Street Journal