Redesigned to highlight Manhattan vistas in all directions and a spectacular collection of contemporary art from Africa, this light-filled one-of-a-kind apartment is a destination in its own right.
New York City’s Most Celebrated Treehouse
Built in 2008, 15 Central Park West pays homage to Manhattan’s Gilded Age skyscrapers and has attracted residents like Sting, Robert De Niro and Denzel Washington. When Apartment 9A’s current owner moved in, she tasked architect Jeffrey Beers with tailoring the four-bedroom, 4,565-square-foot space to suit both her family and the contemporary paintings, photography and sculpture she’s collected on her travels. Jeffrey walked HGTV through the details of his transformation, and real estate broker Emily Beare offered a gallery tour of all of that eye-popping art including a sculpture to the left of the window of Nelson Mandela.
Intricate, scene-stealing pieces like the one at left (a felt collage by South African artist Jody Paulsen) offer an unforgettable welcome. “Upon entering the apartment, there is a ‘wow’ moment in the beautifully designed foyer and anticipation of what is to come,” Emily says. The view from a home’s entrance is its thesis statement; this one has an exclamation point.
Jeffrey renovated the apartment with an eye to making the most of his client’s art collection. “We had to pay close attention to how the natural light flowed in as well as carefully design and plan the lighting of each piece,” he explains. “Beyond working around the incredible views, we were excited to design a layout that echoed the energy of downtown and that felt like a modern gallery space.”
American Address, African Soul
The living room is a showstopper in a purely visual sense; it’s even more overwhelming when you know a bit of its story. The trio of portraits on the north wall are by South African documentary photographer Guy Tillim: “the owner worked with child soldiers in Congo so these photographs are very meaningful,” Emily says.
If you’re feeling tentative about giving kids’ projects pride of place in your own home, consider the inarguably chic visual pairing of the figures atop the piano and the large-scale painting on the south wall behind it. The latter is by German artist Martin Kippenberger (whose work is frequently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, a short stroll south); the former is a sculpture one of the owner’s children created in high school.
Gleaming white and brushed-steel surfaces in the kitchen provide another gallery-like setting for statement pieces. “The six baskets were made in South Africa from recycled telephone wire,” Emily says. The “Love, Light & Laughter” neon piece in the phone nook, in turn, was a birthday gift from a friend; “it’s a phrase that is special to the owner,” she explains.
Why choose between cooking and priceless views of Central Park? Jeffrey honored his client’s wish to delight in the park’s green vistas from as many rooms as possible by designing an adjustable ‘garage door’ panel that reveals that view (and facilitates a chat with visitors at the dining table) with elegance and ease.
That panel is equally effective when viewed from the dining room, where it frames the neon sculpture and functions as a piece of statement art. Jeffrey designed the custom rondel glass wall — composed of hand-blown circular pieces that are also used as suncatchers and wind chimes — on the north side of the room, to allow daylight to filter into the foyer beyond.
A trio of clear pendants spotlight the long, low dining table without interrupting daytime views. Jeffrey installed a pair of bronze doors between dining and living spaces, and emphasized the latter’s width with stained ceiling beams. “The beams were aligned with the downtown vibe requested by the client, and they have a positive effect on the room’s acoustics,” he says.
A sun-baked terra-cotta tone envelops and warms the plaster walls in this diminutive powder room. Its carefully chosen fixtures are a master class in strategic minimalism (and an example of Jeffrey’s meticulous lighting design). A pair of floating shelves support necessities. Brutalist details on the downlit glass pendants give the space a subtle edge and cast a fantastic shadow.
All Ages Show
This kaleidoscopic bedroom demonstrates that kids’ spaces can have marvelous play dates with furniture and artwork designed for adults. The teal Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair would look right at home in a chic cocktail lounge; the brilliant cut-steel bouquet above the upholstered headboard, in turn, is by New York City artist Tom Wesselmann (and a nod to the family’s love of American Pop Art).
This en suite bathroom offers a more Scandinavian take on minimalism. Aqueous blue and green lozenge tiles add a whisper of color to the shower, and understated carved details define the warm teak on the custom floating vanity.
Eye on the World
Fiery accents in the principal bedroom begin with a large-scale piece by South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky, then carry through to a Cameroonian sculpture, accent pillows, a throw blanket and a bedside bench. The space boasts literal as well as figurative warmth: there’s a gel fireplace installed in the south wall.
Form and Function
The generous window seats in the principal bedroom and other spaces in the apartment are ideal places to curl up with a book. They’re also fantastic hidden-storage spaces: as all city dwellers know, no matter how large your home might be, a spot to stash your stuff is one of the greatest luxuries of all.
The principal bedroom gives way to a study with international accents. Jeffrey created wraparound shelves with rift-cut wenge, a subtly streaked and durable tropical wood native to Africa. The room’s tray ceiling “matches the nature, intimacy and elegance of a personal library,” he says.
A Place to Pause
This library is one of Emily’s favorite corners of the apartment. “It has beautiful views of the park, but it also is a quiet and cozy place to read, work or just spend quiet time.”
Set in Stone
When it came to selecting an elegant organic treatment for the principal bathroom, Jeffrey knew just what he wanted to use. “Travertine is one of my favorite materials because of its history, veining, tones and warmth,” he says. Travertine is also one of the oldest known building materials, and dates back to stone masonry crafted in 3200 B.C. “When I showed it to the client it was an immediate ‘yes.’ It created everything she was looking for: exotic, unique yet warm.”
Tawny teak used in the door frame, vanity and shelving complements the travertine’s striated tones. Jeffrey’s team installed recessed and indirect lighting in the ceiling to add even more warmth to the suite.