Step Inside a West Village Pied-à-Terre That Was Inspired by Both Paris and L.A.

·5 min read

“We felt like in New York we were getting the best of both cities in the gorgeous views,” designer Carol Ann Blinken says, referring to the Manhattan location of her part-time residence. That home boasts breathtaking views across the Hudson River and into New Jersey. But as far as the eye may be able to see, Blinken has come even further when it comes to the creative process involved.

The Los Angeles resident had casually searched for a pied-à-terre in her hometown for many years before her quest was reinvigorated by her eldest daughter’s college hunt. Eventually Blinken found the New York home of her dreams: a West Village duplex complete with a terrace. The grassy outdoor space helped her feel like she could enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of her home. (She may have long missed the energy of her native New York, but admits that she has become accustomed to the open-air lifestyle of L.A.)

Once the residence had been purchased, Blinken turned to Los Angeles–based architect Steve Giannetti to help her reimagine the space. The two flew to New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With no heat in the bare apartment, they warmed themselves with the stovetop as they drafted a layout. The design process was organic for Blinken, and she completed it in only three days. With a plan in mind, she then began searching for furniture at auction houses in Los Angeles, New York, and Europe—filling the new home with elements that she had always coveted. Unsurprisingly, the duplex has evolved since she purchased it. “It’s like a living, breathing collection,” she muses.

The openness of the home—which Blinken and her family have found themselves frequenting while on city-focused getaways—also recalls an interiors style often associated with Southern California. That’s true especially in the library and kitchen, which are in tune with a light-filled and laid-back notion of luxury.

Step Inside a West Village Pied-à-Terre That Was Inspired by Both Paris and L.A.

The cabinetry and all the walls have the same molding in order to convey a sense of continuity throughout the apartment. The herringbone floors and chalky white paint make Blinken “feel like I’m in Paris.” The focal point of the kitchen is the array of Tom Dixon lights.
The cabinetry and all the walls have the same molding in order to convey a sense of continuity throughout the apartment. The herringbone floors and chalky white paint make Blinken “feel like I’m in Paris.” The focal point of the kitchen is the array of Tom Dixon lights.
In this dining area, a Venini chandelier shines bright.
In this dining area, a Venini chandelier shines bright.
Blinken removed the existing carpeting and replaced it with herringbone floors. The rug seen here came from an auction at Bonhams. At the end of the hall is the library.
Blinken removed the existing carpeting and replaced it with herringbone floors. The rug seen here came from an auction at Bonhams. At the end of the hall is the library.
Inside the lacquered library. The cozy yet sexy sectional is a mid-1970s vintage find. Blinken included the ostrich feather lamp to add a playful note to the room. The Willy Rizzo coffee table in the center has a pearl finish; the chairs are Pierre Jeanneret.
Inside the lacquered library. The cozy yet sexy sectional is a mid-1970s vintage find. Blinken included the ostrich feather lamp to add a playful note to the room. The Willy Rizzo coffee table in the center has a pearl finish; the chairs are Pierre Jeanneret.
Blinken found her favorite piece in the apartment, a 1970s Gabriella Crespi coffee table with expandable sides, in London. The contemporary sofa contrasts with the vintage orange chairs. The rug is from a Bonhams auction in Los Angeles. On the living room walls, a repetition of the Parisian-style cabinetry can be seen.
Blinken found her favorite piece in the apartment, a 1970s Gabriella Crespi coffee table with expandable sides, in London. The contemporary sofa contrasts with the vintage orange chairs. The rug is from a Bonhams auction in Los Angeles. On the living room walls, a repetition of the Parisian-style cabinetry can be seen.
The vintage sink—a marble piece from the 1930s—is one of the only objects Blinken kept from the original apartment. The vanity is a refurbished chest from an antiques store. Inspired by a friend’s snakeskin clutch, Blinken sourced the custom lizard print wallpaper to add a textural note to the powder room. The lights are from Olde Good Things.
The vintage sink—a marble piece from the 1930s—is one of the only objects Blinken kept from the original apartment. The vanity is a refurbished chest from an antiques store. Inspired by a friend’s snakeskin clutch, Blinken sourced the custom lizard print wallpaper to add a textural note to the powder room. The lights are from Olde Good Things.
Though the upholstered chairs may be the highlight of this sitting area, other details are not to be missed: The coffee table is a mid-century find and the rug was purchased through Bonhams. The fireplace was redone with black slate.
Though the upholstered chairs may be the highlight of this sitting area, other details are not to be missed: The coffee table is a mid-century find and the rug was purchased through Bonhams. The fireplace was redone with black slate.
The bedroom’s custom floating TV was designed to preserve space without obstructing the city view. The Parisian-style white cabinetry is yet another continuation of that design element.
The bedroom’s custom floating TV was designed to preserve space without obstructing the city view. The Parisian-style white cabinetry is yet another continuation of that design element.
Bathers can enjoy views of the green terrace and the Statue of Liberty from this sunken tub. The shower is nickel-plated.
Bathers can enjoy views of the green terrace and the Statue of Liberty from this sunken tub. The shower is nickel-plated.
The guest room’s wooden chair adds a natural material to an otherwise simple and modern space. A slate gray coverlet provides a slightly urban edge.
The guest room’s wooden chair adds a natural material to an otherwise simple and modern space. A slate gray coverlet provides a slightly urban edge.
To open up another bathroom, Blinken added a tub with a mirror behind it. She also painted the walls white.
To open up another bathroom, Blinken added a tub with a mirror behind it. She also painted the walls white.
Blinken carved a small office out of the hall. It has a built-in custom desk with an olive green leather top.
Blinken carved a small office out of the hall. It has a built-in custom desk with an olive green leather top.
The terrace, a selling point for Blinken, provides views of the Hudson River.
The terrace, a selling point for Blinken, provides views of the Hudson River.

Watery blues, earth tones, and organic materials—all hallmarks of the City of Angels—can be seen throughout the duplex. Blinken’s design scheme was influenced by her travels as well: Having lived in Paris for a year, the designer opted for chalky white cabinetry and molding throughout the apartment. She also juxtaposed antique pieces with more modern elements in the ultra-bright space. In particular, the unmistakably contemporary glint of the primary bedroom (cue the floating custom TV) is rounded out by a sitting area scattered with vintage finds.

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Ignore L.A. and Paris for just one moment, however, and it becomes clear that there are still some aspects of the apartment that are quintessentially New York. “We took a large part of the space and turned it into the library, which I conceived as a beautiful, elegant, romantic, lacquered [room on the] Upper East Side,” says Blinken. The library features a Willy Rizzo coffee table with a pearl finish and some of Pierre Jeanneret’s quietly powerful seating options. To add humor to the room, Blinken added an ostrich feather lamp. “It’s not a designer lamp, but it has that feeling,” she notes.

“One of the things I love most about that apartment is the contrast,” Blinken adds. The stairs, for instance, have herringbone floors and raw structural details. “You know, it has these beautiful architectural elements, some that are very finished. I just love the way it feels every time I’m in there.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest