The challenge presented to Steven Park was daunting: He had six weeks to transform a former studio apartment with a sleeping loft, which had been stripped to its brick walls and cement floors, into a stunning living room. The cause, however, was a worthy one: the 2005 International Designer Showhouse, a project that benefited the American Hospital of Paris Foundation.
The foundation enlisted some of New York’s most respected designers to work individually on different rooms in this five-story, 17,000-square-foot brownstone on the Upper East Side. The designers had less than two months to complete the job. When they finished, the foundation raised money by selling tickets to the public to tour the home.
The house was constructed in the late 1800s for cotton merchant Charles Stillman and was divided into 19 small apartments during the 1950s before its reversion to a single-family residence last year. It is now for sale for $29 million through Stribling & Associates.
Park, instructed that the home should be suitable for a young affluent family, designed the living room around five paintings that he found with the help of art consultant Barbara Annis. The three abstract works that hang on the mirrored walls near the fireplace are by Friedel Dzubas. On the opposite mirrored walls are two additional abstracts by Larry Poons. “It’s hard to imagine designing a $29 million house for a ‘young’ family, so I thought of them more as a modern family,” says Park. “The paintings give the space a lot of energy, but the room itself—the walls, the carpet, the furnishings—is actually very neutral.”
Prominent among the furnishings is an 18th-century bronze Japanese horse that Park placed on the mantel, below a molded arch. The room also has an early-19th-century Persian rug and a late-19th-century French desk from the Lee Calicchio antiques firm. To create a sense of symmetry in a room dominated by contemporary art and antique furnishings, Park covered the chairs and throw pillows in the same shade of red that appears in each of the paintings. He refers to the color as hot coral and says that he has included some accent of it in the walls, furniture, or drapes of every home in which he has lived.
Although Park did not scrimp when furnishing the room—the Steinway piano is made of macassar ebony (also known as French rosewood)—one of his favorite items is a $6 flea market find. “The ceramic hand on the desk was a whimsical touch the room needed,” he says. “I wanted the room to be elegant but not intimidating. The hand keeps things from being too stuffy. Not every item has to come from a designer showroom.”
Steven M. Park Interior Design Inc., 212.355.7077
Barbara Annis Fine Arts, 212.288.7139
International Designer Showhouse, 212.838.0157, www.ahpf.org
Stribling & Associates, 212.452.4405, www.striblingny.com