Location: Roosevelt Island — New York, New York
Size: 885 square feet
Years lived in: 1 — owned
What if H.G. Wells' Time Traveller were an incurable collector, a sophisticated scavenger with a penchant for bartering? If he were, and that Time Machine brought him home to Roosevelt Island circa 2011, this is what his home would be. Assuming, that is, this Traveller had impeccable taste, an eye for art, and the confidence to live with high and humble, fine and found, and all within the space-challenging confines of Manhattan.
Bernard's own time travels swept him through countries, states and 'hoods. He lived in Michigan, Maryland, London, and Georgia, all before his current tour of New York City, first Park Avenue, and now this handsome home on-- and high above-- Roosevelt Island.
There have been stowaways on the journey. Outsider art and low country furniture betray his time down South (so too, does the perfectly stocked bar!), combined with crystal chandeliers and "good china" in that decidedly Southern mix of high polish and low down, a style that's finding its own renaissance age in and around Atlanta. From abroad, he brought home a love of the classic, Sévres and Imari porcelains, and that continental flair for mixing this with that and just having it work. Although nothing particularly British appears, there is a Savile Row feel to his bedroom, perhaps from the quilt's suiting fabrics, and the bowler-black accents that both ground and top off the bedroom's jaunty collections. Folk art and titillating shots of Marilyn Monroe add a little US cheek to the UK stiff upper lip.
In Baltimore, Bernard lived in a landmark Mies building ("Which I NEVER could have afforded were it in Manhattan!" he sighs.) and it reaffirmed his love of the modern masters. Those iconic designing bad boys find representation in this mix, too. It's also no doubt why Bernard's choices never fight the glass-box-ness of it all... windows are left unadorned, celebrating the (Sweeping! Stunning!) urban views, and walls are left white. Like his design mentors, it's white by design. Benjamin Moore's "Atrium White," to be precise. Mies would approve.
Bernard's 30 years as an advertising photographer gave him a keenly focused eye, exposure to gorgeous things, and lots of bartering opportunities, where he scored Knoll chairs and Persian carpets. But Bernard is no provenance snob. Wire bins dragged home from a shoot are flipped and glass-topped to make perfect bedside tables, cast iron sidewalk panels found in the garbage near his studio turned into coffee tables. It proves that a stray takes on blue ribbon appeal if he's well-groomed and placed in the right home, regardless of pedigree.
How does an incurable collector find room for, and make sense of, it all? That aforementioned eye, rotation and trading the Park Avenue studio's 550 square feet for this greater 885 all helped. (There may be some art stacked behind those on display, or tucked behind a chest. But you didn't hear it from me!) But Bernard has pressed this space into service in ways sure to warm the hearts of Apartment Therapy readers... hallway turned library, the linen closet a mini home office. It still takes restraint to keep Antique's Roadshow from turning into Hoarders, and his current career at a prestigious gallery means temptation still surrounds him. "You have to know when to say when. But I understand people who collect jewelry," says Bernard. "You satisfy that need to collect, but at least it all fits in a drawer!"
Bernard made no major change to the unit other than a clever modification to the kitchen, previously fully open plan. Not wanting to wall off all of those bridge and city views, he worked with designer pal Roy Otwell to create an architecturally interesting peek-a-boo kitchen. New walls, painted a custom industrial charcoal, stop just short of closing the cube, but still turn the kitchen into a sculptural volume at the heart of this home. It shields guests from dinner party prep, but doesn't isolate the cook. Inside the kitchen, it provides the perfect canvas for, well, a modern canvas. Artful compromise, indeed.
There is a happy dialogue between inside and out, too. The curve of the Nelson "Coconut" chair and the articulated Tizio lamp share much in common with the sweep and structure of the bridge they overlook. Even the front of the monumental dish cabinet seems to be a not-so-distant cousin to the grid work it reflects.
In all, it's a fine collection of souvenirs, some of the best the past has had to offer. It's a bit like that "Who would you invite from history to a dinner party?" game. Here, Scarlett O'Hara mingles with Corbu, Mae West meets Mies (well, a LC7 chair cozies up to a sexy, curvy lamp with an unapologetic fringed lampshade) and this party through time is all the livelier for it.
The Time Machine. Escape from New York. A View of the Bridge. Whatever you chose to title this latest chapter of Bernard's, it's a most delightful page, act and scene in the life of a collector, a gentleman, and Time Traveller. Anachronism has never been more beautiful.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: "Collected." I try to be guided by quality of objects and their timelessness, and how they function. Hence, I pair a Nelson Coconut Chair with a North Carolina chest from mid 19th C, with a Tizio thrown in!
Inspiration: The space: its quality and volume, the layout and the view. And how my collection would work in the space. Great design: whether in a dish towel or an antique chest, good design is always good design. Chronology and fashion are meaningless. Style is not fashion...Quality and style inspire me.
Favorite Element: The view. And the building amenities like a breathtaking rooftop garden that overlooks New York, the 59th Street Bridge, and the East River. Oh, and the in-building gym.
Biggest Challenge: I vacated 2 storage units when I bought this apartment. I needed to fit a lot into the space without it feeling too over-furnished. Yeah, I'd like some more space to spread it out a bit, but, it works for me, and I got rid of some things and the storage spaces.
What Friends Say: "What a view!" "Amazing how much furniture you got in here!" "Loved the Tram!" "Are there Any restaurants over here?"
Biggest Embarrassment: Difficulty in paring down more.
Proudest DIY: Having the balls to put up the kitchen walls, and using the paint color specified by my designer friend.
Biggest Indulgence: My McRoskey Mattress. And how I can now rotate my art and collections.
Best Advice: Ask for everything of the sponsor- even the crazy and off the wall stuff. Follow your instincts. And always wear nice underwear.
Dream Sources: Macklowe Gallery, New York; SwitchModern, Atlanta; Dover Street Market, London; Den Permanente, Copenhagen.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Painted chest: Late 19th C., North Georgia primitive, original green paint
• Mirror: Late 19th C. Danish, Jeremy Snider Antiques, Glasgow, Scotland
• Sofa: Geiger International
• Chest: Mid 19th C. North Carolina chest
• Yellow glass lamp on chest: Family piece
• Coffee Tables: 1930's Cast iron sidewalk plates on custom bases
• Artwork (large photo) above chest: Taken by homeowner
• Sévres lamp: Family piece
• Vintage oil portrait: Vienna
• Chrome and leather: Lc7 chair, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand (available via Cassina)
• Cream upholstered chair: Nelson Cocount chair, Horizon Home, Atlanta (closed)
• Floor lamp: Tizio lamp with floor base, available at Artemide
• Small round metal and glass living room table: John Geiger, Geiger International
• Ceramic orbs/sculptures (underneath the coffee tables): Anne Terhakoski, Atlanta, GA
• Large oil on panel on living room side of kitchen: Antjuan Oden, Barbara Archer Gallery, Atlanta
• Art deco ceramic on top of breakfront: Charles Lemanceau, Adelin, Antwerp, Belgium
• Candelabra: Rock crystal and bronze Ecclesiastic, circa 1935
• Large canvas: Virginia Moss
• Dishwasher: Kitchen Aid
• Folk art figure: Paint on tin, R.A. Miller
• Shelf: Found in garbage!
• Mahogany chest-on-chest (partial), English, George IV, circa 1830
• Black stools: Austrian Postal Savings Bank stools, Thonet, designed by Otto Wagner, circa 1906
• Black wooden chair: Thonet, by Joe Atkinson, circa 1955
• Lamp on primitive painted table: Stiffel, from childhood home
• Black contemporary bedside lamp: Ron Rezek
• Quilt: Vintage men's suiting quilt, Georgia, circa 1950
• Bed linens: Frette
• Marilyn Monroe photos: Bert Stern, from "the Last Sitting"
• Low country tall painted chest of drawers: North Georgia, original paint
• Rug: South Russia, circa 1925 Art Deco
• Paintings over George IV chest and leather chair: Cornell Rubino
• Solar shades throughout: Georgia Blinds
• Painting in hallway: Herb Creesy
• Watercolors opposite "library:" Paula Stein
Images: Patrick J. Hamilton
• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE Check out past house tours here
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.