This Penthouse Overlooks Central Park—But Feels Like It Could Be on a Scandinavian Archipelago

This Penthouse Overlooks Central Park—But Feels Like It Could Be on a Scandinavian Archipelago

  • Jordan Hoch
  • 04/9/24

When celebrity fitness trainer Anna Kaiser and her physician husband, Carlos Wesley, began renovating their Manhattan penthouse, the program was simple: create a light-filled, peaceful oasis with plenty of storage for the couple and their two young boys. “We live in New York City, and it often feels like our lives are so busy and logistics driven,” says Kaiser. “We wanted to come home to a safe place where we could relax.”

They hired architect Douglas Wright and gutted the apartment to incorporate two additional units, one adjacent and one below, creating a central, open floor plan with a wavy deep wood wall for storage that separates private and public spaces. “The beautiful rooftop aerie looks out over Central Park, and I thought of it as an island in an archipelago,” Wright says, referencing Stockholm. “With Scandinavian island homes and spas as the inspiration, we focused on wood as a base and then opened up the walls with large windows and doors.”

Wright introduced the couple to interior designer Amy Lau, known for her educated eye and skill in seamlessly marrying art and decoration with customization. As Lau began to consider the finishes, they chose elegant pale oaks. She designed the ridged millwork throughout the apartment, which is punctuated with some shine thanks to the use of metals like the brushed bronze seen in a floor-to-ceiling Giopato and Coombes column light fixture in the living room and the shimmering Holly Hunt window treatment. “I wanted to create something Scandinavian with a bit of glitz,” she says. “But the biggest goal was to harness the sun and make it feel light and airy.”

A painting in the living room commissioned from Los Angeles artist Audra Weaser captures such light, depicting rippling water on a sunny day at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park, a favorite family destination for outdoor respites. Add to that the plush upholstery of the custom Egg Collective sofa and the organic curves of a pair of 1965 Milo Baughman chairs from Cliff Young covered in ultra-suede, and it’s clear Lau has created both visual interest and places for the eye to rest.

“The interplay of layering and texture with form is important in a neutral palette. We had to find ways to captivate the eye while making it look like it all flowed together,” the design talent explains. “Without those added visual cues you risk creating something bland.”

The biomorphic floating cabinet and matching mirror in the entry as well as the vanity and mirrors in the primary bath are yet another opportunity to highlight oak in sumptuous built-in iterations. Lau says these unique pieces make homes idiosyncratic, like in the primary bedroom where she also created the headboard and floating nightstands using white oak.

These sturdy curves mirror the hard-wearing, kid-proof materials throughout the apartment. The young family with active boys, aged 3 and 7, required furniture with rounded edges made with durable materials and fabrics. To keep it cozy and easy to clean, Lau leaned into high-performance options like a creamy white Teddy bear bouclé by Kravet for the headboard in the primary bedroom and an ombré custom hand-woven silicone cord rug by Shore that adds a pop of color as well as a soft cushy landing in the family room downstairs.

But designing for wear and tear never meant sacrificing artful style. Sculptural light fixtures in materials ranging from organic banana fiber, blown glass, and rich metals alongside special pieces like a Mura side table in the living from Maison Gerard fashioned in kiln fused glass and cast bronze complete the luxe aesthetic.

“Amy really pushed us out of our comfort zone,” says Kaiser. “Originally I wanted a purple pin cushion couch and crystal chandeliers but then she got to know us as people and pushed us in a new direction that we love and enjoy.” For Lau, that’s the ultimate compliment. “Anna and Carlos really took a leap of faith with me. That’s the most rewarding kind of job because the magic comes out of that dialogue and the relationship I develop with the client.”

In the entry, a custom white-oak-carved floating cabinet and mirror designed by Casey Johnson Studio in Black Mountain, North Carolina, adds curvy, biomorphic interest. The semi-flush steel nest pendant by Hubbardton Forge throws off soft, ambient light thanks to hand blown glass shades.

The window lined living room, which overlooks a much-used 2,200-square-foot terrace landscaped by Daniel Richardson, features a pair of Amorph custom stacking coffee tables with kid-friendly curves and easy-to-clean Corian tops.

The open kitchen and dining area with luxe marble counters and backsplash features a dining suite by Matthew Hilton for the Future Perfect and a mobile-like Gaia pendant light by Ochre in solid brass.

An Articolo Scandal Pendant light hangs in the stairwell that leads from the kitchen down to the family room, illuminating a painted wood tryptic entitled Fragments of Figures by Atelier Plateau. 

The family room captures the spirit of Kaiser’s California roots. The bespoke Knoll wallpaper in Goldfinch feels like a sunset and the photograph entitled Surfing Nanakuli by Anne Menke from Clic completes the Pacific Coast theme.

"It's a beautiful, magical place to be when it rains or snows,” Kaiser says of the primary bedroom with its atrium window. The Mexican textile is by Obakki, purchased at Luteca.

The primary bath, with porcelain wall and floor tiles in Aura Gold by Porcelanosa, has Holly Hunt Agatha sconces with onyx diffusers and a golden bronze patina frame.

The Hygee & West wallpaper in Bengal Sunrise sets the tone for a playful children’s bedroom. The faux-fur animal stools designed by Takeshi Sawada are the perfect counterpoint to the handcrafted one-of-a-kind animal head wall weavings Lau ordered from Etsy.

In the children’s bathroom, the lovely imperfections of Zia Moroccan wall tiles in a cool Glacier Blue change tone as the light changes throughout the day. White and federal blue hex floors by Cle Tile add a graphic twist.

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