February 8, 2017

Designer Gideon Mendelson and Architect Gordon Kahn Transform A West End Avenue Prewar

A Manhattan couple teams up with an architect and a designer to transform a '60s era apartment into a fresh yet timeless home.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer Gideon Mendelson photographer Eric Piasecki architecture Gordon Kahn


Life in a rental on Central Park West didn't suit this New York couple, so they set out to find a place they could make their own. They bought a classic six-room apartment in a West End Avenue prewar, and threw themselves into the task of reinventing the 1960s-era unit, which was in desperate need of a facelift.

Besides dealing with the basics—it required new windows and floors and an upgraded electrical system—the couple wanted to enlarge the master bath, the kitchen, and make better use of the existing formal dining room.

They went to the department of buildings website to find an architect who had done previous work at the address and discovered Gordon Kahn, who had had years of experience both at their new home and the surrounding neighborhood. He addressed their concerns about the dining room by simply eliminating it, and he was then able to enlarge the living room. He created a large, well-planned kitchen with three distinct areas for cooking, eating, and working, and also added a butler's pantry. The inviting plan opened up the space and made it more accessible for entertaining, something the couple does frequently.

The vanity is a custom design by Kahn in the enlarged master bathroom.
The vanity is a custom design by Kahn in the enlarged master bathroom.

After finding Kahn, the new homeowners went back to the internet to find an interior designer and Gideon Mendelson proved to be a perfect match. They worked so well together that they have since become fast friends. Mendelson responded to the couple's desire to have something elegant and formal but not too precious. "It has a midcentury vibe, but it's not retro," he says of his work. Blue became the dominant color in his design scheme, ranging from a soft hue in the living room to a dramatic, almost electric shade in the library. He designed most of the furniture in the apartment, communicating with his clients at every step. He became a tastemaker for them, always demonstrating the intricacies of what is special and what is not so speical. And after eight months of enjoying their new home, the clients still feel like it's brand new. Now that's what we consider timeless.

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