Veranda: October 2014
Perfect Harmony: In a storied New York building on Central Park, a timeworn apartment gets a dreamy renovation along with a new infusion of European charm.
Written by David A. Keeps | Photography by Max Kim-Bee
Arts and Crafts
Built in 1910 as a Manhattan skyscraper for artists, the 12-story Harperley Hall is the only surviving Arts and Crafts apartment house on Central Park West. Its stately manner and gracious, handcrafted rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and monogrammed doorknobs have attracted media magnates, millionaires, and Madonna. But for longtime resident Michael Giordano and the British-born, Los Angeles–based interior designer Peter Dunham, Harperley Hall has a more significant shared history.
A woven abaca rug adds texture and a unifying earthiness to the living room. Custom sofa in a Holland & Sherry mohair. 1950s floor lamp by Pierre Guariche. Vintage slipper chair, Center44. 1960s Scandinavian armchairs, 1stdibs. Walls in All White, Farrow & Ball. Rug, Christopher Farr.
"In the early 1990s, when I was a broker, I sold Michael a two-bedroom apartment in the building," Dunham recalls. They became close friends, traveling together as Giordano, a physician, took posts in Paris and Africa. Upon relocating to his New York apartment and a high-profile job developing new cancer drugs, the 50-something bachelor purchased an adjoining unit that, decades ago, was part of his apartment's original floor plan. The combined space "had great bones, but it was a bit depressing," Giordano explains. "It didn't provide much excitement or serenity."
Custom mirrored walls give sparkling charm to a once-dark foyer. Chairs, Mattia Bonetti. 1960s Jansen dresser. 1950s sconces, Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
Quiet but Sublime Luxury
He tapped architect Andrew Franz, "a modernist who loves perfect proportion," he says, and Dunham, "who brings quiet but sublime luxury," to reimagine the residence. Franz's consolidation of the two apartments improved the flow, light, and views from room to room, while enlarging the kitchen, dining, and living rooms for entertaining. Wherever possible, Franz restored the 100-year-old wood trim and ornamental plaster moldings. "Too often, perfect renovations no longer feel authentic," he notes.
1950s French chair and table covering, Bonhams. Swing-arm sconce, Circa Lighting. Art (on chair), Francesco Clemente.
Dunham injected a 21st-century sensibility, embellishing an inviting living room with global-chic touches: midcentury European furnishings, consoles draped in 19th-century Oriental rugs, African accent tables, and ethnic fabrics. Instead of a formal dining area, he conceived a more casual, multifunctional spot. "Formal dining rooms can eat up a lot of space," he explains. "I put in a banquette for everyday meals and as a place to read the paper or work."
A casual corner arrangement for dining saves space with élan. Custom banquette in a Lulu DK fabric. Green pillows in a Peter Dunham Textiles fabric. Art, James Nares.
In the master bedroom, he created a custom stripe for wallcoverings and curtains and used a 1920s Persian rug as a bedcover for a French 1940s-inspired four-poster of his own design. "Old textiles always make a room feel more lived-in," he observes.
The designer also transformed the once-dark foyer with a theatrical dash of Parisian glamour, adding antiqued-mirror panels and Murano-glass sconces as a sparkling backdrop for Mattia Bonetti chairs covered in orange horsehair. Giordano did not shrink from such bold choices. "After living in Paris, I'm addicted to good light and color," he says. "And Peter has created a place that is so much of a home, I find myself less interested in trips away."
Curtains and walls in the same fabric, a custom linen by Peter Dunham Textiles, brings cohesion to a mix of patterns. Bed, Hollywood at Home. Custom bench in a Claremont velvet. Sconces, Circa Lighting. Antique rug, Jamal's Rug Collection.
As Dunham sees it, the historic apartment and its owner got a new lease on life. "We wanted to be respectful of the original architecture, but not literal or dull," he says. "The multicultural layering and modern elements lighten things up and make the apartment sexy. Michael had been living like a professor, and now he and his home have been transformed."
Light fixture, John Derian. Backsplash tiles, Waterworks. Vintage floor tiles, Exquisite Surfaces. Range, Wolf.