This Harlem Bachelor Pad is filled with silent drama
In the moody kitchen-dining room, the personalized joinery is by GD Arredamenti. The pendant lights above the Skagerak table are by & Tradition, and the vase is by Simone Bodmer Turner.
They say less is more, but more what? In the case of this Harlem penthouse, the home of the director, producer and post-production artist Loïc Maes, it’s “More” like Britney Spears growls it: a buffet of tonal changes that suggests After that it seems.
Initially, friends who saw the new apartment called it ‘nothing special’ and begged it to move on, but Maes, who has worked with artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna, as well as brands beauty brands like L’Oreal and Maybelline, was undeterred. He recognized that within these walls a star could, indeed, be born – or at least be made.
To this end, he hired the New York and Paris-based architecture and design firm Lily, working with the founder and principal (and French speaking colleague) Côme Ménage for six months to realize the space as a stoic treatise on comfort and luxury. Maes’ brief was on the nose: “Something easy to watch,” a respite from the hectic pace of her daily work. Aligned with a minimalist approach, Maes and Ménage, a certified passive house architect, collaborated on an impressively cohesive suite of finishes punctuated by a spartan mix of contemporary furniture including pieces by designers Steven Bukowski, JackRabbit Studio and Faye. Toogood.
At 1,600 square feet, the two-bedroom apartment is intimate yet accommodating. The combined living room and kitchen-diner open out to an outdoor patio perfect for outdoor entertaining now that it’s summer (and vaccination rates are on the rise). But the focus remains on Maes and creating a frictionless space to replenish her creative energy: moldings and baseboards have been removed throughout to reduce visual noise, and frameless swing doors (flush with the wall with concealed hinges) have been installed. Recessed lighting was declared verboten, so Ménage fitted the apartment with indirect ledge lights on Lutron smart dimmers. Ambient lighting gives the rooms a monastic slap of sensory deprivation.
Lime paint was applied to the walls in thick, thin layers to achieve a mottled textural effect – light in the living areas and dark in the kitchen and bathrooms. “The first person makes a rough pass and then very quickly another person comes up behind and gives another pass, a little more precise, so you literally read the movement of the people who did it,” Ménage says of the process. “It’s a work of art in itself. “
GD Arredamenti’s custom joinery subtly elevates every square inch of space, from soffits in the hallways to kitchen cabinets, where edges are bevelled to minimize visible hardware. The hardwood flooring was not touched by Re-ad, as Maes had coordinated its installation with the contractor before moving in: all the grains and tones of the wood were decided around it. The result is resolutely monochrome but full of surprises for those who have an eye for detail.
Maes’ engagement yielded a home that was both restful and prone to a dramatic revelation, including a nomination for Re-ad in the Small Apartment category at this year’s NYCxDesign Awards. And for Ménage, who considers it his company’s first dedicated interior design project, the space is a testament to its owner’s insistence on breaking out the little things – in a good way. “I think it was really his desire, to afford something that was true to his taste,” says Ménage. “It’s his thing, for sure.”
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