Tour a Totally Transformed Chelsea, New York, Home That Used to Be Cold and Unoriginal

Tour a Totally Transformed Chelsea, New York, Home That Used to Be Cold and Unoriginal

  • Annie Osiecki
  • 03/16/23

When architect Alan Barlis was commissioned to renovate a 4,000-square-foot apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, he quickly sized up its pros and cons. “The location was an obvious high point—you’re immediately made aware of its extraordinary views,” the MIT-trained designer and BarlisWedlick principal says of the apartment’s three terraces with unobstructed views to the north and south. “Although it lacked character, the potential for creating something exceptional was certainly there.”

Fashioning the home began with collaborating with MK Workshop, a Brooklyn-based interior design studio. The goal was to create a sense of cohesion between the architecture and the furnishings, allowing various palettes and materials to play a central role in the process. “The original living space had rather cold finishes,” says Petra McKenzie, an interior designer and principal at MK Workshop. “It needed warmth and texture so we focused on adding more plush interiors but also rich colors.”

That richness of hues is displayed most notably in the home’s living room, which balances understated elegance with midcentury interiors. A custom rosewood sofa in Belgium linen created by MK Workshop Interior Design sits across from two suede Sumo Lounge Chairs from Holly Hunt. Black slate and walnut side tables by midcentury designer Adrian Pearsall share space with a Joaquim coffee table created by Italian designer Giorgio Bonaguro for Tacchini. A hidden stereo closet with storage for more than 800 vinyl records further establishes the room’s soulful spirit.

Floor-to-ceiling oak replaced monotonous white walls in the main living area, adding warmth to an apartment that felt slightly clinical. The oak elements also skillfully frame the home’s ample views. La Palma Limestone flooring, in a custom trapezoid pattern, was installed in an expanded foyer space that includes a rift-sawed white oak doorway, custom blackened glass, and steel doors. In the den, which serves as an office, TV room, or guest room, a Murphy bed is hidden behind the oak planking.

To help distinguish the dining area from the living room space, the architects created a dropped Venetian plaster ceiling replicating concrete. “The goal was to draw people into the living spaces by creating [a] better flow,” says Jessie Goldvarg, an associate at BarlisWedlick who managed the project. “So we really opened up the living spaces to make them much more inviting.”

BarlisWedlick, known for its energy-efficient and passive house construction, was environmentally conscious throughout the renovation. Any materials removed were donated locally, while elements were reused and relocated wherever possible, the firm says. What’s more, the creative spirit of the residence is animated by the extensive art collection of the homeowners, a couple with three school-aged children. The trove encompasses works by a diverse roster of artists that alternates from playful to provocative.

A colorful abstract piece by the American painter Michael Kessler punctuates the decor in the living room, while a work by the French American artist Frédéric Choisel livens up the guest room/den. A mixed media piece by Vik Muniz, a Brazilian conceptual artist who works with unconventional materials ranging from tomato sauce to diamonds, injects a bolt of energy into the main bedroom.

“The clients were super adventurous,” Jonah Kilday, cofounder of MK Workshop says. “They had a deep appreciation for craftsmanship, but they also weren’t afraid to take chances with the interiors.”

Stone floors in the foyer by Ann Sacks are made from La Palma Limestone in a custom trapezoid pattern. The blackened glass and steel doors are custom by Manhattan Steel Door Co. Architect-designer Jerome Byron created the steel bench for Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Oval Cumulus, the ceiling light fixture, is by Ralph Pucci. Artist Rachel Snack, the founder of the Weaver House, designed the wall art tapestry.

MK Workshop Interior Design created the custom Rosewood Sofa in Belgium linen for the living room using Upholstery Manzanares. The Sumo Lounge Chairs in suede are from Holly Hunt. Italian designer Giorgio Bonaguro created the Joaquim coffee table for Tacchini. The MK Workshop custom ottoman is in leather with brass globe legs. The black slate and walnut side tables are by midcentury designer Adrian Pearsall. The silk Nepalese knot rug is by MK Workshop Rug Collection.

The Prato Pendant ceiling light in the dining room is by Orphan Work. It hovers above a custom lacquered dining table by MK Workshop Interior Design. Mario Bellini created the Cab cowhide dining chairs for Cassina. “The design scheme was informed by how the clients wanted to use the space,” says architect Alan Barlis of BarlisWedlick.

Dome pendant lights by Brooklyn-based lighting design studio In Common With hang above Concreto Honed pental quartz countertops in the kitchen. The floors are rift-sawn white oak with a custom finish. Metal and glass kitchen cabinets have custom blackened steel doors with ribbed glass and maple interiors by Gunnar Fabrication. Italian wood and leather dining chairs by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Cassina surround a Verdi Alpi marble kitchen table by MK Workshop Interior Design.

The walls and ceiling in the home office are bathed in a warm Silver Satin by Benjamin Moore. The swivel Tulip Chair is by Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm for Kill International. It sits behind a back-painted glass-top desk with leather-wrapped steel legs designed by MK Workshop Interior Design and fabricated by Karol Popek from Model Smith. The South African Mohair carpet is by Sacco Carpet.

The bed in the primary bedroom is reupholstered in Jim Thompson fabrics. It sits atop a South African Mohair rug by Sacco Carpet. The ceiling light is a Love Me Not Chandelier by Juniper. Its designer, Pascale Girardin, drew inspiration from childhood memories of picking petals off of daisies. The Wave Chaise Lounge was reupholstered by The Work Room in Passel Maharam fabric. The Bronson nightstand is by Los Angeles–based Croft House. Axial Wall Sconce is by Blueprint Lighting. An Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Cassina chair sits next to a Travertine table.

Bianco Dolomiti marble tile line the main bathroom, which is colored in Silver Satin by Benjamin Moore. Seastone Bone China Wallpaper is from Rule of Three. The Data Stool, in Ebonized solid Oregonis, is by Atelier Thomas Serruys. “The clients had a deep appreciation for craftsmanship but they also weren’t afraid to take chances,” Jonah Kilday of MK Workshop says.

Perfect greige-colored walls by Sherwin-Williams envelope a guest bedroom outfitted in rift-sawed white oak paneling of solid scalloped planks in an oil finish. The grasscloth wallpaper in Latte is by Holly Hunt and the rug is by MK Workshop Rug Collection. The queen Murphy Bed is by Elite Hardware. RH created the Modena shelter arm leather sofa and ottoman. The space-age lounge chair and Ottoman attributed to Adrian Pearsall Classic 1960s is reupholstered by The Work Room in Maharam Mohair Extreme.

Caesarstone Frosty Carrina Quartz in a honed finish is used in the shower and for countertops in the guest bathroom. Cement shower tiles are by Zia Tile. The vanity is made from rift-sawed white oak with a custom fluted pattern with concealed doors. The La Palma Limestone flooring is by Ann Sacks. The blackened steel doors with ribbed glass are by Manhattan Steel Door Co.

La Palma Limestone by Ann Sacks covers a mudroom that includes Cedar & Moss Cape Long, matte black ceiling lights, and a Putnam oak rolling ladder.

(Architectural Digest)

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