March 6, 2015

A Central Park West Apartment Gets a Makeover

Balancing High With Low, Soft With Hard, and Polished With Matte, New York-Based Interior Designer Sara Story Creates a Tactile and Visual Narrative in a Central Park West Apartment.

by Jorge S. Arango interior designer Sara Story photographer Marco Ricca


Great thinkers from Aristotle to Nietzsche championed sensualism, a philosophy postulating that sensations, not the mind, were the most important mode of cognition. Though designer Sara Story doesn't get bogged down with its headier implications, sensualism's central tenet-if it feels good it is good-is a credo by which she apparently lives.

Witness this 4,000-square-foot apartment on the 17th floor of a Central Park West tower, which she designed for a thirtysomething couple with a newborn. "It focuses on different textures that balance each other and create a timeless feel that's also casual and approachable," says Story. "Materials have a tension between them. If I use velvet, it has metal near it, and a leather sofa gets a little fur."

These moments occur in the sprawling living room (larger still before architect Stephen Wang appropriated some of it for a bedroom). A custom sectional swathed in cotton velvet wraps around a wood and steel Jiun Ho coffee table and, at the room's other end, a Dualoy red fox throw tumbles over a custom settee in Moore & Giles leather. The former seating area also boasts 1970s metal side tables, while the latter adds a cluster of hexagonal marble-topped tables from Mecox Gardens into the mix. Yet another contrast-white lacquer custom cabinets and a shimmery 18-by-10-foot Nepalese rug-embraces both vignettes.

Urban Archaeologys mosaic floor is a “grand element” that makes the master bath seem larger. Custom lacquer cabinetry with nickel pulls from Katonah Hardware and Circa sconces recall Decos sleek style.

Tactility is everywhere. But sight is also rewarded. The simple palette-grays, beiges, and discreet touches of color-keeps the spectacular views dominant. And because those panoramas are of a modern New York, silhouettes are crisp and elegantly tailored. The only space sans vista is the dining room, where Story indulged a mix of glamorous finishes, including a lacquer-and-gold-leaf ceiling, shimmery Claremont drapes, and an Austrian chandelier (1970s) and sconces (1950s by Kalmar).

In the master, which Story wanted to make "serene and cocoonish," she got really touchy-feely, picking up the wife's favored purple shades on a lumbar pillow of mauve Sabina Fay Braxton fabric and a custom tufted headboard in a lilac Maharam textile with ribbon detail. The room's Elizabeth Dow raw silk wallcovering and Scala Luxury nightstands are luscious juxtapositions for a wood veneer LZF pendant.

And so it goes...soft against hard, matte versus reflective, organic materials paired with sleek ones. It's the sort of tension every good sensualist can love.