A toned-down remodel lifts up the entertaining spaces in Kips Bay
When a Manhattan couple bought their three-bedroom apartment in Kips Bay Towers, designed by renowned architects I.M. Pei and S.J. Kessler, more than 30 years ago, they renovated. Fast forward three decades, which included the whirlwind of raising kids, and it was time for a redo. What looked good then now looked tired and outdated. The kitchen had already been renovated a second time and the avid entertainers, who host plenty of dinner parties, made the living and dining rooms the next priority on the renovation list. Their interior designer, Tara Benet, turned to Sweeten, a free service matching designers and renovators with vetted general contractors, after hearing another one of her clients was using the service. She found this Sweeten contractor to bring the vision to life.
The heavy linen curtains were drab and did not gracefully frame the exceptional floor-to-ceiling views from the glass-front apartment complex. The cream and beige color palette also did little to complement the New York City backdrop. Comfy couches and cluttered decor lacked the glamorous, crisp, and adventurous style reflecting the couple’s modern-day taste.
The wood flooring also became an issue. The original rug had been in the same spot for 30 years. The intense natural light left a darker footprint where the UV rays had not faded the varnish. The couple went with a lighter floor color in keeping with the overall brighter look, adding a fresh touch to the whole renovation. Previously, the homeowners had used old-fashioned track lighting because the concrete ceiling couldn’t take any sunken lights. Two chandeliers solved the problem of how to light the space; their unique design also made them a focal point.
A white painted background became an artist’s canvas so the other elements would stand out. But white is never just white. “There was a lot of debate over the white which needed to be a little bit warmer than it was before. We ended up with a shade that has a tiny bit of orange. It has a glow to it,” Tara said. And to offset the white, a muted royal blue acts as a deep color accent and can be seen running through the custom-made rug, a throw rug, and the living room chairs. (Blue is also a contrasting color to the orange hue added to the white paint.)
A secondary color palette—the metallics of brass, bronze, and gold—further balance the blue accent. This is seen in the vases on the dining room table, in the construction of the coffee table, woven into the pillows, and throughout the lamps and light fixtures.
With the strength of the view through the windows, Tara helped her clients achieve an uncluttered look and did not use much wall art. To inject some creativity, they picked out well-designed furniture that could almost double as art pieces. The blue chairs from designer Walter Knoll function like little works of art that you can sit in, as do the Roche Bobois sofas.
The heavy linen drapes were replaced with near-translucent fabric, letting in more light and giving a gossamery feel. And the view will never be obscured. The curtains are purely for appearances; they are locked into the ceiling and floor and cannot be moved, ensuring the “wow” moment when guests get a first glimpse of the cityscape. “They literally never want to close the windows,” Tara said.
According to Tara, their Sweeten contractor was a great communicator and in constant communication with her and the clients. He was even willing to meet with the client on weekends to keep the project on schedule. With a touch up for the millwork, a fresh coat of paint, and refinishing the floor varnish, it’s a reminder that less often equals more when luxe furniture and lighting make up a dream space.
LIVING ROOM RESOURCES: Sofas and coffee tables: Roche Bobois. Side tables: Julian Chichester. Rug: Custom. Walter Knoll 369 living room chairs: Walter K.. Boule de Cristal round living room chandelier: Restoration Hardware. Kali table lamps: Arteriors Home.
Maggie, an interior designer, and Adam, a former architect, renovated their co-op in Kips Bay.
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