April 12, 2016

D'Aquino Monaco Turns a Pre-War Penthouse Duplex Into a Stylish Affair

D'Aquino/Monaco turned a forlorn pre-war penthouse duplex into a stylish modern home for a newly single father.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer D'Aquino Monaco photographer Joshua McHugh

EAST SIDE STORY

Interior designer Carl D'Aquino and architect Francine Monaco are known for their hands-on approach, which is undoubtedly one of the main reasons a recently single New Yorker enlisted them to help him find a new home—the third time that he has worked with the pair. They looked for almost a year before deciding on a penthouse duplex on Manhattan's Upper East Side. While it was hardly in mint condition—it was an estate sale and hadn't been touched in years— the wrap-around terrace and the ability to have a master suite upstairs apart from his two sons when they were in residence, clinched the deal. Plus, the client loved the apartment's structural simplicity. "There was very little in the way of columns or other structural impediments, which allowed us to have an open contemporary flow and feeling to the apartment," he says.

The partners did rework the floor plan. "There was no sense of space," says Monaco, who was faced with a series of disconnected rooms. The biggest intervention was moving the staircase from the far side of the first floor to the wall by the front door, not only creating a gracious entrance, but adding a cozy sitting room on the second floor.

The dressing area is defined by a Poliform closet system and a work nook fitted with a Poltrona Frau chair.
The dressing area is defined by a Poliform closet system and a work nook fitted with a Poltrona Frau chair.

On the first floor they created an open plan because the owner loves to cook and entertain and wanted an effortless flow. The rooms mostly face south and are flooded with light. D'Aquino favors sheer window treatments but added automated blackout shades to protect the art, because the owner, a serious collector, planned to install major works by David Salle, Glenn Ligon and Richard Prince among others.

When it came to furnishings, the owner knew that the designers were very familiar with his taste. "They understood I would want significant art juxtaposed with mid-century modern and Art Deco furniture. I love Gio Ponti and Vladimir Kagan," he says, adding "Carl & Francine want to challenge you. Contemporary art, architecture, and design shouldn't only look good. It should make you ask who, why, and how. Finding that balance of aesthetic precision, with an eclectic, personal design style is what it's all about."

The childrens' bathroom downstairs also serves as a powder room for guests.
The childrens’ bathroom downstairs also serves as a powder room for guests.

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