New York streets often offer glimpses into people’s apartments and town houses through the partially open curtains of ground-floor windows. But it isn’t every day that you walk down the street and realise that you actually have a full view of someone’s living room – and dining room and kitchen – through massive storefront windows. But that is just fine with the owners of this town home, renowned fashion designer Lela Rose and her husband, Brandon Jones, a hedge fund manager. Along with their two young children, the couple live happily on view to their downtown neighbours in a bright, expansive ground-floor space (plus an annex and two subterranean floors) that was designed by Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, the founders of the seven-year-old company Work Architecture.
“We’ve always been about ground-floor living,” Lela says as she conducts a tour of her home. This is the third such space that she has lived in. But at 557 square metres, this one is big with a 28-metre-long main space that houses the living and dining rooms, the kitchen and media areas. The home also has a back annex that contains bedrooms, an office and a cosy “tequila nook” for tastings. An interior this generous could easily feel cavernous or overwhelming, but between Work Architecture’s clever spatial demarcations and Lela’s decorating, it feels gracious and relaxed – much like its owners.
The designers conceived what they called a “gradient” or progression of zones, from public to private: an airy, 4.8-metre-high living room at the front of the home with plenty of wall space for art; a bamboo-panelled “shaker box” that contains a bar, concealed storage space and a dining table that rises from the floor; a kitchen with an informal dining area; and a media room with a sleeping loft for visiting cousins. A space the architects call “the void” contains a steel-grille staircase that connects the front of the ground-floor apartment to a three-storey wing with more private space, including the bedrooms. The void also contains the “Stitchevator”, a lift in the shape of a Monopoly hotel for Stitch, the family’s Norwich terrier, who doesn’t do stairs.
Lela and Brandon are big entertainers, so the entire front of the apartment can become a sort of endless dining room (or a fashion runway) when a glass table descends from the ceiling and custom-made extensions – designed by David Ellison with Lela – are added to the tables in the kitchen and media room, linking all the tables together.
Against the living room’s white walls and floor, Lela layered her favourite things: a wall of pictures by photographers ranging from Ruth Orkin and William Wegman; a circular banquette by Pierre Paulin; a beloved Edward Wormley sofa upholstered in three different fabrics; and a pair of Louis XIV chairs that are covered in custom embroidery and a sprinkling of sequins. “I find this room so glamorous, and it’s a great place to greet guests,” Lela says. It’s also a great way to greet your neighbours – or total strangers lucky enough to be passing by.