To Andrea Franchini’s eye, the apartment checked all the boxes. It occupied the parlor floor of a turn-of-the-century Manhattan townhouse. It had a fireplace. Two bedrooms. A patio. A prime location in Chelsea that offered just the sort of lived-in neighborhood feel that Andrea, a native of Rome and a New Yorker since 2010, was after. “I knew it was mine right away,” he says. “I made a deal with the seller that same night.” The apartment’s only downfall was its dated interior, which had remained untouched since the 1970s. But for that, its new owner had a vision—and an expert team to help him realize it.
Architect Brad Sherman constructed living room steps that also serve as supplementary seating. (left)
Architect Brad Sherman of Float Studio and interior designer Patrick McGrath, longtime friends, were enlisted to aid in a top-to-bottom overhaul that spanned three months and encompassed a host of impactful changes. To create the modern urban oasis Andrea had in mind, walls were removed to maximize natural light, solid doors were replaced with glass, and pre-existing molding and trim were boxed out in favor of cleaner lines and corners.
Most often, Andrea can be found in the den, reading or watching a movie. “I like to open the patio door and let the fresh air come in,” he says.
Andrea, who works as the assistant regional director of culture and entertainment for Edition Hotels, needed space to host friends, so a midcentury-inspired sunken living room—complete with cove lighting and steps that double as additional seating—was constructed to comfortably accommodate 15—or, for a party, “up to 30,” he says.
An Ettore Sottsass marble table holds a Tina Barney portrait of Italian art dealer Leo Castelli.
The apartment’s true scene-stealers, however, are pieces from Andrea’s growing collection of furniture—including standouts by Pierre Paulin, Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass, Mies van der Rohe, and Donald Judd—and photography (think Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, Bruce Weber, and more). “I see this space as a tribute to my first 10 years in New York City,” he says, “and a reflection of how my tastes were influenced by the art and design community that I’ve been lucky enough to meet here.”
Once a separate room, the matte black kitchen now looks out on the light-filled living area.
White walls allow brightly colored furniture—like a vintage Massimo Vignelli sofa, and these lilac Pierre Paulin lounge chairs—to pop.
His career in hospitality has made an impact as well. But despite the implications of a 30-person living room, Andrea insists he prefers something more low-key when he’s off the clock. “Most of the entertaining I do happens at work,” he says. “Home is just for myself and my closest friends.”
Do It Yourself
When working with statement furniture, keep surroundings simple. As shown throughout this space, white walls and understated accents allow bolder pieces to take center stage.
Embrace dayb as a guest room “do.” The custom piece in Andrea’s den functions as a full-size bed when guests come to stay—and as a cozy, extra-deep sofa once they’ve left.
Match lighting to mood. In this apartment’s minimal master bedroom, a single suspended bulb is an elegant stand-in for a traditional bide lamp; in the living room, cove lighting adds warmth and just the right amount of drama.
“I was inspired by my time here in New York and by my Italian roots,” Andrea says of his vision for the space. “But I also drew inspiration from the houses designed by Luis Barragan in CDMX, John Lautner in L.A., and Donald Judd in Marfa—all of which are places I love.”
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