To celebrate 30 years of the best in design, we recently enlisted A-List decorator Neal Beckstedt to design the House of ELLE Decor—an actual residence that embodies the style and finesse of the projects we feature in the magazine. The penthouse apartment is located at 108 Leonard, a new luxury residential conversion in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood with development managed by Elad Group.
Built in the late 19th century as the New York Life Insurance Building, 108 Leonard was originally designed by the legendary architecture firm McKim, Mead & White, who also created Grand Central Terminal and the original Pennsylvania Station. The building’s Italian Renaissance Revival-style facade is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Jeffrey Beers, an architect known for his hospitality interiors, was tapped to transform the building into a condominium with more than 160 residences. “To complement the heavily ornamented original exterior,” Beers says, “we designed them to blend old and new, with a warm palette and layouts that are both functional and elegant.”
For Beckstedt, whose aesthetic often blends past and present (“I love John Pawson and the king of France!”), the venue could not be more suited. “The interior architecture is traditional but in a modern way,” he says. All of the vintage and antique furniture used came from Beckstedt’s collection.
He designed the penthouse with a hypothetical client in mind: a well-traveled international couple. For inspiration, he plumbed back issues of ELLE Decor (he keeps years’ worth of copies neatly stacked in his Brooklyn apartment and at his house in Sag Harbor on Long Island). The thread he found running through every issue was a layering of color, pattern, and texture. “The ELLE Decor projects I looked at were very avant-garde,” he says. “That’s what I wanted to capture.”
Here, those layers are immediately on display in the foyer, which is painted in three Farrow & Ball colors—Farrow’s Cream on the ceiling, Pigeon on the walls, and Blue Gray on the wainscoting—and furnished with a vintage Pierre Jeanneret chair and a contemporary Liaigre console. It’s a cozy prelude to the soaring adjacent living room, where large-scale abstract Color Field paintings by the late Larry Zox vibrate against stark white walls. All of the paint and wallpaper was done by interior renovation company Berwick Edel.
The space contains a veritable Tut’s tomb of timeless furniture: modern sofas from Minotti, Louis XVI dining chairs, and 20th-century classics by Philip Arctander and Jean Prouvé, all upholstered in Élitis fabrics of wild blues, purples, oranges, and whites. The seating arrangement is held together by an orange-and-pink vintage Oushak rug from Mansour; overhead, an oversize lantern by Circa Lighting is large enough to make a statement dangling from the room’s 16-foot-high coved ceiling.
The living room leads into what is arguably the boldest space in the penthouse: a wine room with walls lacquered a high-gloss red. Most of the room’s ingredients—a Napoleon chair, a vintage sofa, a Mansour rug, and another Zox painting—match the bold color. For contrast, Beckstedt added black accents from Liaigre and Molteni&C and floor-to-ceiling brass-and-glass wine racks. “You want that drama,” he says.
There’s certainly no dearth of drama in this world he’s created. The levels of intensity ebb and flow from room to room, as deep red turns to a more earthy mood in the study, where a birch wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries is paired with a Mansour shag rug. Then light hues return for a breath in the master bedroom suite, where the bathroom is clad in Calacatta Mandria marble and the serene bedroom is anchored by a minimalist four-poster knotty pine bed designed by Beckstedt.
And then it’s back through the living room to the kitchen, where a wall framing views of midtown Manhattan is covered in a patchwork of pure gold leaf. “There is a surprise around every corner,” Beckstedt says.
Meanwhile, the penthouse is available for $12.1 million, and all of the furniture and art is for sale, too. What better way is there to live than in a home that has been published in ELLE Decor?
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