On Cloud Nine
Charlotte Druckman -- Interior Design, 9/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Asked to renovate a penthouse in Cesar Pelli & Associates Architects's Bloomberg building, Decorati CEO Shane Reilly faced one of design's toughest foes. No, not budget. Time. She had just 90 days to overhaul 3,900 square feet for a client she'd worked with before in San Francisco and New York. "The owner is an Internet tycoon," she explains as she stands in the finished apartment, 54 stories above Midtown. "He operates at a fast pace."
She can definitely keep up. To sidestep time constraints, she bought items online or from showroom floors, then reupholstered if necessary. One of the first things she found was a custom rug in chocolate and ivory. It had been rejected by the designer who'd commissioned it, but Reilly could tell that its geometric disposition and mammoth dimensions, a whopping 11 by 18 feet, would have the impact needed to stand up to the penthouse living room.
To counterbalance the apartment's vast scale and glass-box architecture, which lend themselves more to intimidation than to comfort, Reilly relied on soft shapes. A shallow circle is carved into the top of the living room's ebonized walnut cocktail table by David Gulassa. In the dining room, the edges of an ebonized oak table curve slightly downward. The master bedroom's walnut headboard arcs ever so slightly up.
Color also tempers the hard lines, with blue prevailing throughout. "Everything up here turns blue anyway because of the sky," Reilly observes. When daylight pours into the living room, its periwinkle walls blend in so seamlessly that, instead of processing painted walls, the mind reads only atmosphere. The living room's daybed is smartly swathed in steel-blue leather, while semi-sheer cerulean curtains complement the slate-blue silk on the dining chairs visible next door.
Although the dimensions of the living and dining rooms would seem to make them perfect for a party, they were originally separated by a thick wall. There wasn't enough time to make removing it feasible, but Reilly did cut out a wide doorway. In the glow of Kevin Riley's lantern-style pendant, the dining room's silvery handwoven carpet shimmers along with the sumptuous indigo curtains, which drape not only the windows but also the opening between the two rooms and the main entry, off the foyer.
Fabrics that evoke men's tailoring allowed Reilly to soften the master bedroom, she says, without "getting froufrou." Heathery silver-gray cashmere upholsters a Tommi Parzinger armchair, and gray pin-striped pillows rest on the bed. Wolf Kahn's expressionist renditions of a forest introduce a touch of bright color. Because the 13-foot ceiling posed a threat to serenity in all three bedrooms, she relied on visual tricks to reduce the loftiness. Lighting, for example, is placed at eye level.
Inspired by this project and others like it, Reilly has just launched a Web site to help fellow designers source products—identifying showrooms that represent a specific brand, even locating in-stock pieces. Like the look of the walnut side table or the striped rug in this apartment? You'll notice distinctly similar items on decorati.com.