It’s an enviable circumstance — not to mention a rather practical living situation for a frequent traveler. The gentleman who inhabits this masculine, wonderfully scaled space, situated eight floors up in Inwood Manor, can simply shut the door en route to his beloved country retreat and leave behind the what-ifs that often plague ground-level homeowners.
Decorator Cathy Echols was charged with refashioning, in her words, a “’70s disco cool” apartment and making it relevant again. The 2,600-square-foot expanse retains many of those elements, not to mention several fun furniture and lighting pieces once owned by the former owners, who lived there for almost two decades. The space was originally gray with burgundy accents (plumbing and otherwise). Echols repainted with Farrow & Ball Tanner’s Brown — a deep aubergine hue that changes with the time of day, appearing eggplant at one hour and chocolate at another. “I believe using one color not only unifies the space, but makes it look fresher and large,” she says. “And in a high-rise, the space can already read like a box. I think you shouldn’t try to make it read like something else, or you’ll lose the sleekness and stylishness of it.”
She worked with many existing materials that her client had purchased along with the space, such as the rich chocolate-brown marble flooring and a plush L-shaped sofa in the living room that anchors the open floor plan, opening into the dining room. She refreshed its cushions with charcoal Polyform wool fabric and slicked the built-in tables that run along two sides of the sofa (with oodles of storage beneath) with still more Tanner’s Brown.
In keeping with this theme of consistency, Echols purchased dozens of polished nickel flush ring pulls from Fixtures & Fittings — “they remind me of something you’d find on a ship,” she says. She installed them on every cabinet, from the bar to the bath to the kitchen.
Blessed with two large balcony spaces that open up onto the dining- and living-room area, as well as another that spills into the bedroom suite, the apartment is extremely conducive to entertaining. The galley kitchen, revamped with new appliances and mirrored to give the illusion of a larger space, is a functional area where the owner, a talented cook, can whip up meals for a dozen or more.
Neither he nor Echols is shy about playing with scale in decorating. She indulged her client — whose collection ranges from a pair of mammoth Napoleonic sphinx sculpturesthat graced a theater in London before it burned to the ground to 4,000-year-old urns from China — by having an étagère custom-built to display them, with the sphinxes on top and the urns below.
“In this building, you can actually remove all the front walls and theoretically have glass installed across every room,” she says. “We talked about that, particularly in the bedroom, but it eventually became a question of where would we put the art?” The solution: Keep certain strategically placed walls to display pieces such as the large-scale work by Retna, a graffiti artist from Los Angeles, in the living room and a series of four smoke-ring photographs by Donald Sultan from McClain Gallery that are best viewed from a prime vantage point on the sofa.
To give the marble flooring a kick of warmth, Echols installed woven jute underfoot in both the bedroom areas and part of the living room — another nod to consistency of materials. “The jute blended in a way that solid or patterned carpet simply didn’t,” Echols says. “We went back and forth, afraid it could look like acres of carpet if we weren’t careful. We tried leopard and all sorts of patterns, and it went from nice to Vegas really fast.”
While the owner moves around the globe, his high-rise home — safe and secure, stories up from the street — awaits him, with all the comforts and conveniences of city dwelling just where he left them.
Living large in black and white … In the living room, an orchid from David Brown in a cache-pot by Robert Kuo for Baker. Crystal and silver collectibles top the glass cocktail table
In all the gin joints in all the towns … A drinks bar is tucked away off the main hall.
Interior designer Cathy Echols of CH Designs, dressed in Hermès, is in the living room of her client’s high-rise home. Painting by graffiti artist Retna, from New Image Gallery, Los Angeles
In the dining room, six leather cantilevered chairs from the previous owners attend a McGuire glass-topped table. A turned natural-wood bowl serves as the centerpiece. To the left, Allison Schulnik’s monkey painting from Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica. Lighting by Andy Coolquitt.
In the sunlit sitting room off the master bedroom, a pastoral painting by ’20s muralist David Karfunkle. Sofa by Shabby Slips, covered in Belgium cut velvet. Waylande Gregory bowl from Sloan/Hall.
Surrounding a custom glass-topped cocktail table in the living room, a Polyform brown-leather chaise and an L-shaped sofa purchased from the former owners of this high-rise and re-covered in a rich wool fabric. Custom-made étagère holds a collection of large-scale antiquities. Bronze lamp from Blackmon Cruz Workshop in Los Angeles. Donald Sultan’s smoke-ring photos from McClain Gallery.
Trio of skulls, made of bone, from Sloan/Hall. Vintage silver boxes.
At the bedside in the master bedroom, Echols styled this tableau atop a round metal garden table from Watkins Culver: a large quartz lamp, orchids from David Brown, several nighttime reads, Hermès travel clock and a contemporary work by Houston artist Shane Tolbert.
In the sitting room is a George Cameron Nash sofa surrounded by two drum ottomans by Shabby Slips. French bergère with vintage fabric and fox throw. Wood table from Balinskas Imports. Lighting by Andy Coolquitt. Gold-washed lamp, one of a pair, by Robert Kuo for Baker. Pastoral painting by ’20s muralist David Karfunkle.
In the master bedroom, the curtain panels dressing the four-poster iron bed were created by D&D Drapery from Duralee linen/cotton herringbone fabric. Bedding from Kuhl-Linscomb. Three-tiered round bedside table with brushed-nickel from Baker.
In the master bedroom, a zebra-skin-covered bergère sidles up to a zinc-topped antique garden table. Rug by Edward Foster.
In the master bedroom suite, mohair-covered love seats by Shabby Slips. Photographs by Deanna Templeton entitled Nudes hang on either side of an antique Chinese armoire. The vase at the end of the bed is from Balinskas Imports. Gilt-frame mirror by Frametek, with tortoiseshell in the foreground.