March 2, 2016

Edda Elias Infuses an Old-World Apartment With a Modern Elegance

Edda Elias injects a fun, fresh aesthetic into an old-world apartment in the landmarked Apthorp

by Nicole Haddad interior designer Elias Associates photographer Trevor Tondro


History has witnessed hundreds of beautiful, architecturally significant buildings fall victim to the wrecking ball. The Apthorp, the c. 1908 Clinton & Russell-designed Italian Renaissance Revival building in the heart of the Upper West Side, owes its existence in part to this hindsight. The block-long structure, originally built for William Waldorf Astor, received landmark status in 1968-a mere three years after the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Committee.

When longtime clients approached Edda Elias, of Elias Associates, to do a stem-to-stern renovation of their newly purchased, 3,700-square-foot hideaway at The Apthorp, she turned out to be the perfect choice. The layout of the three-bedroom residence was already ideal, with public rooms up front and private rooms in the rear. Further, the surviving interior craftsmanship, north- and south-facing exposures, and 10.8-foot-high ceilings were hard to rival. Given all that, Elias decided to retain the original floor plan and surviving neoclassical backgrounds and inject a more modern feel with carefully selected furnishings and artwork. "You don't gain appreciation by repeating your period or playing it safe. The best jolt and impact comes from creating a bit of chaos-by mixing architectural elements and furnishings from different periods and styles," says the designer.

"The amazing plasterwork would be difficult to rework today," Elias adds. So would the original mosaic flooring and neoclassical moldings that distinguish the apartment's expansive 29-foot-long entry gallery. She left those intact as well, but formed a perfect foil with a mixture of contemporary furniture and art, including a beautifully scaled, Bruno Houssin KAO suspension lighting fixture.

The living and dining rooms, which flank a central hallway, exhibit the same multi-era design language. Bright accent colors outline the prevalent gray-and-white color scheme and inject a bit of liveliness. Comfortable yet striking designs and hardwood floors stained a warm shade of espresso sing against the backdrop of intricate plasterwork.

Edda Elias Guest Bedroom Desk
Hermes, a colorful linear painting, forms an unexpected partnership with a sleek white desk from Blu Dot and a contrasting rug from Madeline Weinrib.

"Because the guest bedrooms were meant to be used less, we went a bit off the design field there," says Elias of the more colorful, youthful palettes. The master bedroom, on the other hand, exhibits a dreamlike luxury with neutral tones, a deep plush carpet, and soft, tactile details galore.

Completely gutted and revamped, the kitchen keeps to the flow with recycled glass mosaics in a custom gray and white geometric pattern that complements the white acrylic lacquer cabinets.

"Juxtaposing periods and styles creates a lot of thought and interest and makes a space enjoyable for years to come," says Elias. We just so happen to wholeheartedly agree.

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