Tour a Newly Transformed West Village Townhouse

What happened when design firm ASH NYC got its hands on the old Abingdon Guest House hotel.

Photo: Christian Harder
Photo: Christian Harder

When I toured the forlorn Abingdon Guest House this summer mid-renovation with developers Ari Heckman and Will Cooper — who head up the team of young design talent at ASH NYC — I had no idea what a beauty it would become.

The Abingdon Guest House had seen better days by the time it went on the market in 2013, listed for $8 million. True, the nine-room inn comprised two 1850 townhouses in the West Village, but there had been no offers in the months it had been on the market, and as you can see here, it was a bit shabby. So when developer Ari Heckman took a look with the broker, he recalls: “She told me to throw out an offer. I offered $3.5 million, a number that I thought surely would be rejected, and the owner countered with $100,000 over my offer. I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll do a deal.’” Photo: Wendy Goodman
Heckman and his partner, Will Cooper, who together run the real-estate-and-design firm ASH NYC, got to work gutting 13 and 21 Eighth Avenues, the two buildings that had been joined together as the Abingdon Guest House. They decided to keep ownership of 21 (which they have renovated and now lease to a tenant) and redo and sell 13, which is now on the market and what we see here. “We knew that the bones were pretty good,” Heckman says, but the renovation was challenging, as the building is in a historic district and ASH’s design plan included adding a penthouse. To create a transparent staircase (a major part of the open-plan kitchen and living-slash-dining room on the second floor), they stripped away the original Sheetrock. ASH used half-inch metal rods, which create constantly changing, sculptural shadows throughout the day. The runner is black sisal. 
The floor plan created a natural dining niche, which Cooper and Heckman outfitted with a Standard Table and Tripod Stools, all designed by ASH. The hanging light fixture is the A110 pendant from Alvar Aalto for Artek.
As you come up the stairs, you encounter this sleek galley kitchen with black oak cabinets and marble counters. The black-and-white palette is warmed up with un-lacquered brass fixtures from Waterworks. The refrigerator is by Liebherr. “Because the kitchen is so open to the living room,” Heckman explains, “it had to function aesthetically as part of the apartment, so it feels almost like a piece of furniture.”
“The house had been carved up into this little warren of rooms, and there wasn’t indigenous interior architecture to salvage,” Cooper says. “We kind of had this blank slate, which was exciting for us.” This “before” photo gives you a sense of what they encountered. Photo: Wendy Goodman
ASH did a clean sweep and then hung Raw Wrap 10, a painting by Brooklyn-based artist Lauren Seiden, over the living-room fireplace. The couch and matte-black wood coffee table were designed by ASH. The 1970s wood chairs are by Pierre Chapo, the armchair by Børge Mogensen, and the stool by Charlotte Perriand.
A room in the Abingdon Guest House during its final days. Photo: Wendy Goodman
The makeover included this office-slash-second-bedroom on the third floor, with a daybed designed by ASH and a bolster from Holland & Sherry. The painting is by Long Island City–based artist Brendan Smith. The desk chair is a 1950s design by Vittorio Nobili, and the Arc Stool in waxed brass is by ASH.
The Abingdon Guest House was considered cozy, until it wasn’t. Photo: Wendy Goodman
A view of that same room, transformed into the master bedroom, from the bathroom. A 1953 Hans Wegner Valet Chair sits against the wall.
The old view of that room, toward the windows. Photo: Wendy Goodman
The master bedroom as it looks today, with custom-designed furniture by ASH and bed linens by Anichini. The floor lamp peeking out on the left is by Tommaso Cimini for Lumina.
This was the old shower in the bathroom. Photo: Wendy Goodman
“We took a lot of inspiration from our travels through Belgium,” Cooper says about the overall pared-down aesthetic of the house, illustrated by the master bath with its walls finished in waterproof Moroccan plaster used by Axel Vervoordt. “We didn’t use a lot of traditional materials,” he says. “The vanities are all precast concrete in custom colors, and then we did a big walk-in shower with Waterworks fixtures in un-lacquered brass and continued the wood floors into the bathroom instead of doing tiles.”
The hardest part of the process was winning over the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which they ultimately did: The building’s pièce de résistance is an artist’s-garret-like penthouse that can’t be seen from the street. The table and stools are by Charlotte Perriand, and the Tea Sofas were designed by ASH.
There is even a private roof terrace designed by ASH, with concrete tables and stools of the company’s own design.
Planters of wild grass and bamboo create intimate space on the terrace. And just think: If the person who ends up buying this gem one day puts it on Airbnb, the story will have come full circle.
Tour a Newly Transformed West Village Townhouse