One of the rewarding experiences working in a pre-war building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is the fact that plenty of thought was placed concerning the hierarchy and sequence of rooms, ceiling height, exposed beams and detailed moulding work. Most of these ingredients were in place, except in the case of this penthouse, the mouldings were long gone as past owners have replaced them with a bland version. The current owners, a newlywed couple had set clear goals: they were planning on having lots of children!
Prior to his marriage, the owner occupied the penthouse level and its surrounding terrace with views over Central Park. He sought to purchase the floor below and join the two spaces. Koder was brought in to do the work. The original foyer floor was cut to create a stair connection between the two apartments. The public functions were relegated to the penthouse level, while the family room and bedrooms were placed on the floor below. While both floors were being gutted, Koder faced the typical challenges of having to do more work than originally anticipated – namely replacing building systems etc. After a long labor of love, the beautiful space emerged unquestionably to be one of the most elegant duplex penthouses on the Upper East Side.
The owner’s collection of art and antiques helped shape the design direction. Koder used the magnificent objects dating back to 300 BC to inspire a classical space. However, the finished product suggested a more contemporary approach. The concept of wood paneling was replaced with faux bois, giving the designer better control over color, but more importantly allowing a younger feeling to what otherwise would have been a stuffy space. In lieu of making many small rooms in the new space, Koder opted for making fewer rooms therefore larger in size which in turn gave the home an old world feel.
Koder set to design all new custom plaster moldings, door casings, and baseboards inspired entirely from the grand apartments of Central Park West. The stair has a turned wrought iron balusters with Mahogany railing and Calacatta Oro treads and risers – all wrapped in a custom carpet runner. All the doors in the public areas were faux bois with a French polish finish. The art is lit by museum quality lighting supplied by Nessen. The oak flooring in the foyer is a Parquet de Versailles pattern bordered by Calacatta Oro slabs. The fluted pilaster and paneling are faux bois as well.
The living room fireplace has an 18th Century French limestone mantel. For the wall paneling, Koder opted for a lighter faux bois color. In the family room, the fireplace opening was trimmed with a custom French style bolection. The southern light filters through the delicate roman shades. The curtain panels are installed higher than the cornice to enhance the vertical lines. The mirrored walls gave the illusion of a larger space. The master bathroom flooring is inspired by patterns from David Hicks, using several stone species such as Dark Emperador, Cielo Azul and Blue Macauba. The oversized shower has his and hers separate shower heads. The Dark Emperador bench is flanked by two shampoo niches. In the principal foyer the floor pattern is a checkerboard Calacatta Oro and Dark Emperador. Koder found more space in the ceiling and created a cove with indirect lighting. The polished nickel and mirror bathroom vanities were custom made by a French atelier in Long Island City. Makeup lights are ventilated from the back to alleviate any heat buildup and the danger of a melting make up! In the powder room, the vanity top is made from Dark Emperador; Koder designed the custom nickel legs for the washstand. The checkerboard flooring is a continuation of the adjacent foyer while a mother of pearl frame surrounds the antique mirror.