Glittering prizes

Reflective surfaces and a bold colourpalette enhance the retro '60s look of thisPark Avenue apartment
View of the artwork & bench seats acrylic paint, art, modern art, gray
View of the artwork & bench seats

Moving house often presents a good opportunity to reconsider your interior decor and whether it will fit with the style of your new home. For the owner of this apartment it provided a chance to start over from scratch.

Located in the Crystal Corridor area of Park Avenue, Manhattan, the apartment complex was built in the '80s, on top of a glass building that dates back to the '60s. Owner and designer John Barman says the apartment originally featured detailing typical of apartments built in the '80s.

"There were a lot of mirror and marble surfaces, crown mouldings and peach tones, which are fairly typical of many Park Avenue apartments," he says. "It was not the look I wanted."

Barman says the architecture of the original '60s glass building provided the inspiration for a completely different decorating approach, which in turn required completely new furnishings.

"The apartment windows copied the lines of the original building and I wanted to enhance that '60s feel," he says. "The result is my interpretation of a 21st century modern look, which is a combination of new and classic furnishings."

Barman says the apartment was stripped of all unnecessary detailing.All the crown mouldings, door casings, skirtings and timber floors were removed. Only the position of the rooms remains unchanged.


Spiral oak staircase in entrance. Round table beside architecture, ceiling, home, house, interior design, lobby, stairs, black
Spiral oak staircase in entrance. Round table beside the stairs has a vase with flowers in it. Can see through into a living area.

"Surfaces and furnishings were chosen to create a crisp, clean look. I also wanted to enhance the sense of a spacious loft," he says. "The Ardex floors, for example, provide the look of polished concrete."

Walls in the main living areas are painted in a high-gloss white, chosen for its reflective quality. Several large art works, including a vibrant red painting in the entrance hall, provide a strong colour contrast and set the tone for the interior.

"It is a very bold colour palette," says Barman. "But limiting the colours to mainly red and white, and adding chrome, glass and similar reflective materials, helps to create that crisp, clean look. The art also provides a contemporary, gallery feel, which goes with the whole loft concept."

Furniture in the main living area includes modern classics such as thered Barcelona chairs and an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair. Other pieces, including the charcoal-coloured couch and shiny, red leather cushions, were designed by Barman. A diverse collection of red-colouredglassware sits on a clear glass coffee table, chosen to allow an uninterruptedview of a large, customised rug, also designed by Barman.

On one wall of the living area, a large, bubble mirror bounces distorted images around the room, adding to the glitzy ambiance. Vintage Italian wall lights, a Parsinger stainless steel cabinet from the '70s, and clear, Lucite dining chairs are further retro elements. To provide some privacy and filter the natural light in the room, Barman added chrome bead curtains, which are a permanent feature of the room.

"There are a lot of windows in the apartment and it was quite a challenge positioning the furniture," says Barman. "As well as dealing with the amount of light coming in, it was important to maximise the view and not interfere with the streamlined look of the apartment."

View of the dining room ceiling, function hall, furniture, glass, interior design, lighting, room, table, gray, black
View of the dining room

The kitchen features stainless steel cabinets sourced from a restaurant supplier. Again, the room was designed to be clean-lined and functional, says Barman.

A little more colour was introduced to the library. This features orange and charcoal-coloured couches and a large painting by Lisa Milroy, of a collection of black-and-mustard Greek urns and jars.

In the master bedroom, the colour scheme takes a darker turn, with walls painted black. One wall is mirrored to reflect the view.

"This is a very dramatic room by night, with the black helping to focus attention on the view," says Barman.

Two vintage Knoll chairs in yellow feature fluffy red and white cushions, which add a touch of retro whimsy to the setting. Curtains are hidden behind the wall.

A powder room is also black, with a bright, acrylic painting adding a punch of colour to the room.

Aug 20, 2003

Credit list

Architect and interior designer
John Barman, John Barman Inc (New York)
Flooring
Ardex in Grey
Lighting
Modular International
Window treatments
Metal beads in Nickel
Kitchen flooring
Statuary marble
Kitchen taps
Tara in Nickel from Dornbracht
Stove
Amana
Bath
Kohler
Tiles
Bisazza mosaics
Main contractor
Dimitropoulos Construction
Paints
Hasolac by Schreuder
Furniture
Vintage and classic pieces and items designed by John Barman and Kelly Graham
Kitchen cabinets, benchtops and splashback
Stainless steel custom designed by John Barman
Sink
Kohler
Oven, dishwasher and waste unit
Frigidaire
Microwave and refrigerator
GE
Bathroom taps
Tara in Nickel from Dornbracht
Toilet
Duravit
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