March 11, 2015

Sara Story Infuses a Gramercy Park Triplex With an Effortless Cool

Sara Story infuses a 3000-square-foot Gramercy Park triplex with a crisp, contemporary vibe that complements the building's neo-gothic architecture.

by Nicole Haddad interior designer Sara Story photographer Eric Laignel architecture Matthew Baird Architects


Sometimes it takes three to tango. So it was in the case of this elegantly tailored Gramercy Park triplex, which interior designer Sara Story created in collaboration with architect Matthew Baird for a sophisticated, design-savvy couple with two young children. Transforming three once-separate apartments in one of Manhattan's cherished, early 20th-century neo-gothic piles into a beautifully choreographed, 3,000-square-foot modern residence required serious ingenuity plus—obviously—a gut renovation.

Story and Baird established an open floor plan based on a clear public-private hierarchy: bedrooms, playroom, and home office on the lowest floor; kitchen, dining, and living room on the center floor; lounge on the top-all connected by a sleek staircase of wood treads with glass risers.

Story selected materials and finishes with a sharp eye for detail. Dark hardwood floors, Venetian plaster walls, ebonized doors, textured upholstery, and industrial 1930s light fixtures establish a polished, soothing envelope that unifies all three levels. "I wanted the interior to have a very edited look," says Story.

Story made the most of the top floor-an airy, light-filled, space with 15-foot ceilings and a terrace with incredible north, west, and south views. Her strict mix of period furnishings and contemporary accents-a 1940s marble-topped Italian coffee table complements the raw silk-patterned Fort Street Studio rug, lacquer-and-marble bar, and thick curtains that play on the height of the ceiling-establishes an air of easy, relaxed chic.

The public areas of the middle floor flow with beautiful cohesion: the living room opens to the dining room, and progresses organically to the kitchen. Story's selection and placement of furnishings and accessories further enhance the aura of unity. A leather-and-mohair upholstered sofa and a 1930s industrial coffee table from Wyeth, plus a gutsy walnut-topped dining table with a brass pedestal base, strengthen the neutral palette. Artwork, brass accents, a fox throw, and natural light from the wrap-around terrace soften the effect of any hard edges. An offset sculptural tweed sofa invites intimate conversations and views of the fireplace.

"The entire process from demolition to move-in was about 18 months," says Story. "It went very smoothly." So smoothly, this is one dance we'd like to see again.