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There is nothing more joyful than having great chemistry between the architect and the owner. It is almost necessary for a project to proceed. Sharing an aesthetic appreciation for the arts, architecture and antiques in particular has been the motto of this penthouse project. The architect’s challenge of transforming a contemporary space tailored to the owner’s classical taste was at hand.

The story started in the early 80s when Selim Koder participated in an unusual project for the owner’s offices. He then created a unique space with an art deco theme of marble and lacquered walls. Twenty years later, the owner’s spouse, a fabric designer with an exquisite taste in the classical world, found a gem on the Upper East Side which she called home. The acquired space is a contemporary duplex but with good “bones”. And as the owner anticipated, this project will yield the best before and after photographs! The interiors were bare; there was nothing worth keeping except the high ceilings. The lower floor was flanked by two vast terraces while the upper floor has yet another large terrace. The owner’s love for plants and flowers was strong. Her dreams of a hanging garden above Manhattan were about to come true.

Koder set out to gut the entire duplex, installing a wood burning fireplace, wide plank oak floor boards reclaimed from a house in South Carolina, custom mouldings, casings and baseboards. The paints were imported from England and represent the finest choices from the Victorian era. The limestone flooring came directly from Costwold, UK and imbued the foyer area with a much needed subtlety reflecting the owners’ taste. Koder designed cabinetry and casework including an “aged” walnut table inspired from his 19th century drawing collection.

The owner’s love for antiques drove her to Appley Hoare then on Pimlico Road in London where an abundance of 18th century French garden furniture was available. Koder organized the large terrace into separate seating areas thus creating unique and cozy settings. The French metal chairs have flexible seats and are surprisingly comfortable. The wire frame column profile has also been acquired from the same shop. An antique rose arbor was flanked by custom copper clad utility sheds to incorporate the reclaimed mirrored doors. The pergola and planters are also copper clad. The Renaissance stone balusters were fixed to the terrace floor and the wrought iron bench was repainted.