October 17, 2016

Neal Beckstedt Designs an Elegant Sanctuary in Chelsea

On Manhattan's Far West Side a couple finds an elegant sanctuary for their extensive art collections and their new family members.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer Neal Beckstedt photographer Marili Forastieri

CHELSEA MORNING

When two Manhattan businessmen were looking for a designer for their new West Chelsea apartment, they didn't have to go farther than their then current London Terrace dwelling where architect Neal Beckstedt was a neighbor as well as a friend. Beckstedt, who formerly worked with S. Russell Groves, has had his own studio since 2010 and came to prominence with his work for fashion designer Derek Lam.

On the opposite wall, a walnut and bronze sideboard from Regeneration is surrounded with the work of several artists and a Bill Henson photograph.
On the opposite wall, a walnut and bronze sideboard from Regeneration is surrounded with the work of several artists and a Bill Henson photograph.

The new space, just a few blocks away in the recently built Chelsea Enclave, has three bedrooms and feels perfect for their newly-expanded family (the men recently adopted two baby girls, one just a few months old). The apartment—on the grounds of the 19th-century landmark General Theological Seminary—has terrace views of the seminary garden. "It feels like you're in a tree house," says Beckstedt, who can't praise the visual delights of the landscape enough.

The Ohio-born designer, an avowed modernist who loves to introduce traditional elements, didn't need to make any major structural changes to the apartment. However, "The apartment needed structure," he explains. To add character to the all-white, dry-wall environment he installed ebonized rift white oak gridded paneling of his own design in strategic spaces throughout the rooms. He also treated the floors with an ebony stain to create a more urban sensibility. His major design problem was dealing with his clients' vast and ever-expanding art collection. A 15-foot-long central hallway offered the perfect space to install a gallery. "It's old-world style there," he says, referring to the artwork massed together, as in a gallery. Using the artworks that way allowed for quiet spaces in the rest of the apartment. The owners frequently add to their collection and wanted to make sure that all the works would always be beautifully illuminated. Beckstedt installed a flexible track lighting system so that they could easily accommodate changing configurations of art.

An ancestor's portrait is installed above one of the Louis XVI chairs; to its right is an oil by Hernan Bas. The crowning touch above it: Tom Sachs' Chanel Surfboard.
An ancestor’s portrait is installed above one of the Louis XVI chairs; to its right is an oil by Hernan Bas. The crowning touch above it: Tom Sachs' Chanel Surfboard.

The furnishings in the space are a sophisticated mix of antiques and cutting-edge contemporary design as well as custom pieces designed by Beckstedt himself. The windows in the 12-foot-high living and dining rooms are simply dressed with sheer fabric from Holly Hunt to allow the landscape to become an integral part of the home. see resources

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