See Inside Furniture Restorer Christophe Pourny’s Manhattan Apartment

After a two-year-long gut renovation.

Photo: Wendy Goodman
Photo: Wendy Goodman

I recently visited furniture restorer Christophe Pourny and his partner, Jason Jobson, at their London Terrace one-bedroom. Their gut renovation included re-carving the apartment’s entrance hall and finding the skinniest refrigerator on the market.

Christophe Pourny was raised in his father’s furniture-restoration atelier in the south of France and worked at his uncle’s antique shop on the Rue Jacob in Paris. It’s no wonder, then, that the elegant entrance hall of the apartment he shares with Jason Jobson, with its rubbed cement walls (by artist Beriah Wall) and black-and-white concrete floor tiles (waxed to look like honed marble), is modeled on a French vestibule. This space had to be carved out and reimagined from a typical prewar layout with narrow, dark halls. The 900-square-foot apartment was gutted down to the studs. Architect Brian Boyle worked with Jobson and Pourny on the renovation. They purchased the apartment in 2008 and waited two years before beginning the work. “Every surface was replaced, including all floors,” Jobson says. “We wanted the space to feel more modern, but respect the style and history of the building.” Photo: Wendy Goodman
Pourny and Jobson’s contractor made the book-lined cabinet in the entrance hall. “We wanted to create the illusion of the books to hide a really practical walk-in closet,” Jobson says. They expanded a small existing closet and filled the center shelves with faux books while the right and left sides hold real books. “The contractor was surprised we used chicken wire on the cabinets.” Photo: Wendy Goodman
The living room is on a southwest corner and gets fantastic light throughout the day. It took time to acquire the furnishings, and “less is more” was the couple’s mantra. The area rug was found on a trip to Istanbul. The dining table, made from one sheet of steel and with a hand-lacquered finish, was designed by Pourny. The Thonet chairs, unearthed at a flea market on the Upper West Side, were re-covered with charcoal mohair. And the “painting” above the table is by Pourny, and it’s actually the surface of the old studio table caked with layers of paint and varnish from years of work. Photo: Wendy Goodman
The original narrow, closed-off kitchen was replaced with an open kitchen that adds warmth to a corner of the living room. Pourny and Jobson used an unfinished walnut veneer for the cabinets, which they are happy to have bleached by the sun. The backsplash tiles are from Complete Tile. Photo: Wendy Goodman
The kitchen renovation required the skinniest fridge they could find, as it had to fit into an existing closet space. “Northland provided the narrowest refrigerator on the market,” Jobson says. Photo: Wendy Goodman
The couple’s bedroom holds some of their treasures, like this mid-17th-century Louis XIII linen press pointe de diamant; it’s from the southwest region of France, and gets its name from the diamond pattern of the oxblood walnut doors. “My parents gave it to my sister, who didn’t care for it properly, so they took it back and gave it to me,” Pourny says, adding, “we’re best friends, so the exchange was painless.” Photo: Wendy Goodman
The bedroom is also home to the key collection that Pourny started when he was 12 years old after he spied a tin can full of old keys during a visit to the local ironsmith’s shop with his father. He plunked down ten francs for the tin and its contents. His desk is a Napoleon III copy of a Louis XV table. Photo: Wendy Goodman
Once he got the keys home, he discovered a 12th-century iron piece in objet de foile, meaning that the patina was created by being immersed in soil. Photo: Wendy Goodman
Over the years, Pourny has collected several hundred keys from various centuries, and he has sold many, editing down his collection to a few dozen, some of which are hung on the bedroom wall. This 1787 key plate showcases the workmanship of a master ironsmith. Photo: Wendy Goodman
“The oldest keys in the collection are Roman — and were worn as key rings on a finger,” Pourny explains. “Some think that this is the origin of the wedding band, as the Roman groom would give the key ring to his bride as a symbol to her of ‘what’s mine is yours.’” He says that his most precious one is “a tiny key so detailed that you need a magnifying glass to see the male and female parts that make up the intricacy of the lock.” Photo: Wendy Goodman
Pourny’s first book, published this year by Artisan, The Furniture Bible, is an invaluable reference book and resource guide, not only for woodworker enthusiasts but anyone interested in design — just ask Martha Stewart, who wrote the foreword. Photo: Wendy Goodman
Tour Christophe Pourny’s Manhattan Apartment