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Hidden Assets

This floor-through pied-à-terre on the Upper East Side has a few surprises left over from the Gilded Age.

The living room. Photo: Perry E. Hall
The living room. Photo: Perry E. Hall

Have you ever heard of an apartment having too many closets? Believe it or not, a businessman who is renting this floor-through pied-à-terre on the Upper East Side thought his did — so design duo Fiona Sanipelli and Gregory Bugel of Handwerk Art and Design took creative license for a few surprises.

The apartment is a floor-through on the top floor of a six-story Beaux Arts mansion that was built at the turn of the century for the Barclay family by C.P.H. Gilbert, one of the leading Gilded Age architects. As the top floors were historically relegated to the servants, these rooms were much less elaborate than the grand ones below, but they still came equipped with working fireplaces, as seen above in the living room. The wood-storage unit in the wall was designed by Handwerk, who also picked out all the furnishings and art, including the white scoop chairs from Neiman Marcus and the vintage Moroccan pots on the wall. “It was really nice for us to have a clean slate,” Sanipelli says. “Our client gave us a lot of freedom after the initial design concept,” Bugel adds. “We presented him with a series of conceptual profiles and he selected two: the ‘transcontinental rock-and-roller’ and the ‘passionate anthropologist.’”

The client is based in Los Angeles but used to live in New York, so he wanted the décor of the rental to reflect the city. Sanipelli and Bugel designed the custom dining table and chose vintage Pierre Jeanneret dining chairs. The hanging light fixture is from Roll & Hill. Photo: Perry E. Hall
“When we can’t find something, we make it,” Bugel says, explaining how he and Sanipelli designed the sculpture installation on the wall behind the dining table. The sculpture is made from pieced-together strips of paper draped over brass hooks of their design. “We did the calculation,” Bugel says. “It was over a mile of paper.” Photo: Perry E. Hall
The master bedroom is painted in a soothing Celtic Gray from Behr. The four-poster bed is vintage and the hanging light fixture is from Roll & Hill. The area rug by the bed is from Serena & Lily and the larger print rug is from West Elm. The double doors with custom brass pulls to the right of the bed hold a hidden custom-designed valet. Photo: Perry E. Hall
Handwerk designed the jewel box of a hidden valet, beefing up one of the many closets in the apartment with a full-length mirror and custom metal and millwork. Photo: Perry E. Hall
The opposite side of the master bedroom, with another wood-burning fireplace and dormer windows behind the sofa from De La Espada and a leather pouf from Poltrona Frau. The two campaign chairs are vintage Italian. Photo: Perry E. Hall
“We were given a floor plan by the broker, and there was an incredible amount of closets — even for somebody who lived here full-time it would be a lot,” Bugel says. “So we decided to turn them into something else.” This one is now harbors a concealed mini library featuring a vintage card catalogue within. Photo: Perry E. Hall
The children’s room is anchored by a custom-designed bunk bed by Handwerk and a settee below from Ligne Roset. “We tried to make the bunk beds insular and as cozy as possible,” Bugel says. The area rug is from West Elm and the wall paint is Marine Blue and Perfect Peach from Benjamin Moore. Photo: Perry E. Hall
The small but mighty kitchen is ready for cooking action. Handwerk customized the space with a backsplash of opus white quartzite and designed the open shelving and leather drawer pulls. The oven is from Bertazzoni. “He lives mostly in L.A. and has three children,” Sanipelli says. “We started talking to him a little over a year ago. He told us that he is definitely going to be entertaining and using the fireplaces and the kitchen.” Photo: Perry E. Hall
An Upper East Side Home With a Few Hidden Assets