On Park Avenue, a Formerly Bare-bones Apartment Gets a Dramatic New Beginning

On Park Avenue, a Formerly Bare-bones Apartment Gets a Dramatic New Beginning

  • Jordan Hoch
  • 05/7/24

It’s hard to imagine how inspidly cookie cutter this Manhattan apartment used to be. To be fair, the apartment, which is located in a 1925 neo-Renaissance-style building, boasted all the accolades of a Park Avenue gem (the world’s fourth most expensive street): views of Central Park, newly renovated window finishes, state-of-the-art kitchen appliances. Just nothing special.

That is, until interior designer Georgia Tapert Howe stepped in. “Really, it was just a white box,” says the designer, who was given permission by its owners—a couple with two children and a penchant for pattern—to enter the apartment with reams of wallpaper options and paint swatches. “There wasn’t a single surface I didn’t touch,” Tapert Howe declares

Tapert Howe’s aim was to work within the footprint established by its original architects, Electus D. Litchfield and Rogers a century ago, to transform the family’s five-bedroom residence into a sophisticated mix of already acquired artwork and newfound objects—Something that reflected them.

While Tapert Howe has been operating her eponymous design firm in Los Angeles for more than a decade (after cutting her teeth at design firms Haynes Roberts, Mica Ertegun, and Martyn Lawrence Bullard), the homeowner had known her personally for years and had long appreciated her ability to combine classical elegance with a modern twist, long-distance logistics aside. “I have always admired Georgia’s style and the joy and fun she brings to spaces,” she explains.

The designer’s signature sleights of hand—in this case, an artful pairing of yellows and greens with edgier patterns and textures—courses throughout the 4,000-square-foot space with softness and soul. Still, the atmosphere is decidedly unfussy. Guests are greeted at the entrance just off the elevator vestibule by a bold yellow wallpaper and, further in, a squiggly-backed chair sits perched beside a fish-eye mirror. A similarly imaginative three-legged baby-blue lacquered table—a 1stDibs find—acts as a spirited counterpoint to the kitchen’s cream-hued cabinetry. “We wanted our home to feel warm and welcoming, not too precious since we have young children, but also for it to be interesting and elevated,” the homeowner shares.

In the dining room, Tapert Howe had an unbridled decorating moment when she bedecked the entire back wall in an Ananbo mural. The verdant, tropical scene, painted by artisans for the French brand, transports diners to a scene far removed from the concrete streets of New York just beyond. Meanwhile, the living room, with its lime-washed walls and vintage teal-green terrazzo table, evokes the elegance of classical forms and is a testament to Tapert Howe’s deft hand with pattern play. Further in, a wood-paneled library punctuated by varying shades of brown and tan is a moody differentiation with a sophisticated edge. “I’m obsessed with that balance,” Tapert Howe says.

After taking a trip to the green-on-green-on-green powder room—where a traditional Twigs Pheasant wallpaper is brought back to the 20th-century with the Future Perfect’s avant-garde Palm Pendant—the primary bedroom is a welcome palate cleanser. Here, Caba Company’s sand-toned ivory-tile wallcovering adds texture to the creamy room that is a jaunt to ancient Rome—with an ultramodern edge. “It really needs those layers to feel cozy,” the designer adds.

The apartment’s most challenging limitation came in the question of how to get a nine-foot dining table up 14 flights of a prewar building’s curved, three-foot stairwell. “It truly was a matter of fitting a square peg in a round hole,” Tapert Howe recalled. It simply couldn’t be done. Tapert Howe however came up with a resourceful way to accomplish the task without having to crane it in: “We made the dining table on-site,” she explains.

She booked a flight for Los Angeles–based furniture maker Jason Pickens, who carried the table up the stairs, plank by plank, alongside his furniture-making tools, converting the dining room into a makeshift furniture shop. “Honestly, I have PTSD from the whole situation, it was such a nightmare,” she says. “But with an amazing team and talented and creative furniture makers we made it all work.” Ultimately, it’s the client’s favorite space in the house. “Our special time as a couple and as a family is always around the dinner table,” she adds. “Those are the moments I look forward to every day.”

And it’s a good thing because, Tapert Howe half jokes, “that table is never leaving that apartment in one piece.”

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