Rachel, a busy and well-traveled New Yorker, hired interior designer Allison Lind to design her one-bedroom apartment in a prime location in the West Village back in 2015. They had met through a mutual friend that was also living in the building, and they immediately clicked. “She loves to travel, appreciates art, and her interior taste reflected that – so we made some bold color and print choices, and curated the décor from her travels for a really fun eclectic ‘bohemian’ mix,” Allison shared. Fast forward four years, Rachel, who had recently married Albert, now had to find space for her expanded family (which includes two young boys and a teenage girl from his previous marriage). Instead of moving, they decided to purchase the apartment above her original space and combine it to create a duplex for the whole family. To do so, she rehired Allison Lind to work on the interior design, Cass Calder Smith to take on the challenging task of the architecture, and Beckman Studio who completed the construction to perfection.
The team at Cass Calder Smith had their work cut out for them: they had to take two one-bedroom apartments that overlapped by just 20 feet and turn it into a duplex with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. “The most important request was to connect the two apartments with a stair that would be as efficient as possible,” architect Cass Calder shared. “They also wanted as much natural light as possible. The upper portion of the white oak staircase floats with open risers allowing natural light to come down from the upstairs windows, while the lower portion is anchored to the living spaces. Overall it establishes itself as the vertical counterpoint to the two horizontal floors, while curved handrails and blackened steel accents confirm itself as a sculpture for the living and dining rooms.”
It took six months for Cass’s firm to create a flawless and meticulously thought out layout that would accommodate all of the family’s spacial needs, as well as to get the necessary permits processed. Once they had the green light to begin construction, interior designer Allison took on the interior aesthetics of the duplex. “I knew Rachel and her style well,” she said. “But her husband admittedly was ‘less bold’ than she. He preferred things a bit more monochromatic, minimal, and contemporary. Her style remained the same as the previous time that we worked together (though a bit more matured and elevated): bold, bohemian, eclectic, and colorful. So I not only had to find a nice balance between the two but also design for the kids.”
Allison had to strike a balance between Rachel’s and Albert’s somewhat disparate styles. The entryway features a bold black and white graphic wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler. The living room is mostly made up of off-white tones such as the Modena Track Arm Sofa from Restoration Hardware upholstered in Perennials’ Performance fabric in Bisque to withstand anything that the three kids threw at it. “We continued with a more streamlined, monochromatic palette in the living room for Albert but mixed in textures, pattern, and funky décor pieces with interest for Rachel,” Allison explained.
Anything related to the millwork, the construction company on the job, Beckman Studio played a crucial role. They sourced all of the wood for the staircase and floors, as well as built the custom cabinetry in the bathrooms, closets, and storage unit under the living room windows. The dining table was another custom piece, created by Christopher Fidler of Grain Furnishing. The table was specifically designed to couple’s taste: “Simple materials with a natural finish for Albert and unique and bold legs for Rachel,” Alison said.
As for the bedrooms, each had their own style and concept. One the lower level, they were able to maintain the exposed brick in their teenage daughter’s bedroom, adding character and charm. The main bedroom and boys’ room are located on the second level. For the main bedroom, Allison chose a textured vinyl wallcovering from Phillip Jeffries. “With vinyl, seams aren’t as visible, so it’s less busy,” the interior designer explained. The boys’ room features two back-to-back beds that allow better flow throughout the room.
After six months of planning and receiving permits, and another six months for construction, their duplex in one of Manhattan’s most coveted neighborhoods was complete. The final result exceeded the homeowners’ expectations: “I literally just stare at everything all the time,” Rachel shared.