Since 1985, our annual “Best of New York” issue has named standout services, unique shops, and special spots in dozens of categories. Now that Curbed is part of New York’s family, we have reimagined “Best of New York” as an ever-expanding resource that could rival Yelp in usefulness but feels more like a secret Google doc that gets passed among friends. To find the places recommended on these lists, we polled hundreds of stylish and savvy New Yorkers and begged them to tell us their go-tos. The result: our own Yellow Pages, containing only excellent places.
Musician, painter, and contractor Tony Jarvis has typically met his clients during downtown gigs. He painted, for instance, the Great Jones Street loft of Robert Becker, the arts editor at Interview magazine in the ’80s, as well as the apartment of Simon Hammerstein, founder of Lower East Side club the Box (Jarvis played there five nights a week for two years when it first opened). And twice Jarvis has used more than a dozen shades of purple to paint a client’s Central Park South home. Sleep No More producer Arthur Karpati — whose home Jarvis painted with a variety of blues and grays — says he is “especially good at making colors work with each other.” Satu and Celeste Greenberg, the sibling owners of Tuleste Factory, say Jarvis is “our first recommendation when anyone needs interior or exterior painting or finish work. When he did our gallery space, he recommended painting our floors with an outdoor black paint instead of a traditional gallery white, and it transformed our sad, worn hardwood floors entirely.” A fringe benefit, his clients say, is that Jarvis can double as a contractor if you need some custom millwork done, kitchen tiles installed, or a wall taken down. “We recently referred Tony for a project in Tribeca [that entailed] some beautiful wall treatments with textured paint, plus finishing work on closets and installing a fairly complicated Lutron lighting system,” Satu Greenberg says (from $1,500 per room, which includes materials).
For a Simple, Inexpensive Repaint
Jonathan Barsness, 917-346-2430; email@example.com
Architect Peter Feigenbaum found Jonathan Barsness’s name on a painter forum on Brownstoner. A litany of positive reviews (from one: “does good work — and I’m fussy”) convinced Feigenbaum to book him to repaint a spare room in his Williamsburg apartment. The walls had “a lot of patch marks and chips and were an especially ugly color: mustard yellow,” says Feigenbaum. “After Barsness came, all the old crusty bits miraculously disappeared, and the questionable paint-color choice was replaced with relaxing grays.” Barsness’s precision and (relatively) low pricing (small rooms, like a nursery, start at $500, while a bedroom in a brownstone with tall ceilings and historic molding may start at $2,000) mean his customers tend to come back over and over — like Feigenbaum. “He doesn’t need a lot of hand-holding,” he says. “I’ll hand him a swatch, leave him a key, and he takes it from there.”
Uriu Nuance, 212-828-3160; uriunuance.com
Mark Uriu originally trained as a fine artist, and it shows: He specializes in the specific, from faux finishes (trompe l’oeil, faux marble) and gilding to distressed wall finishes. He was also recommended five times over — Spencer Bailey and Andrew Zuckerman, the co-founders of the Slowdown, describe him as “the go-to in certain high-end architect circles,” and architect Stephanie Goto, who has designed spaces for the Calder Foundation and Hauser & Wirth, says, “He is one of these people we never speak about but is integral to our practice.” Writer Zibby Owens told us Uriu painted her childhood bedroom in a light-blue sponge design she was so obsessed with that years later, she hired him to paint her entire Upper East Side apartment. When they got to her kitchen, she handed him and his partner a spatterware place mat as inspiration. “They used a little brush to painstakingly mimic splatter paint,” she says. “My kids and I sat around and watched — it was like watching Jackson Pollock.”
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