The actress Tess Soltau has been living (and renting) in New York for the past decade, landing stage roles in Wicked and The Addams Family in addition to her TV work. In 2019, she finally bought her own place, overlooking the Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center. But the place needed work. And it needed to accommodate the life she didn’t, at the time, have yet.
“It felt like a quintessential late-’80s Memphis meets American Psycho,” says her interior designer, Keren Richter, laughing as she describes the dark, dated aesthetic of the condo. Soltau knew she wanted a blue bathroom and a black kitchen; she knew she wanted arches and marble, “so I knew the elements but I didn’t trust myself to put them all together. I am not that kind of artist.”
“I love an arch,” says Richter, who is that kind of artist. “It just feels so welcoming and it really does a lot to draw your eye up and give the illusion of more height, and it gives you the opportunity to do a really interesting door.” The one-bedroom 1,000-square-foot apartment was turned into a two-bedroom with a new floor plan that integrated the closed-off spaces with two arched doorways and a fresh, light-filled palette of pale colors and a blond oak floor. The space is now contemporary and cozy with a palette of light wood and pale pastels; feminine in spirit, but not fussy or cloying, all the better for Soltau’s fiancé, who now lives there with her.
“I love the space that Keren created too because I’m very feminine, but I was like, I’m going to meet somebody,” Soltau says. “We were designing the apartment before I met him, but I didn’t want him to walk into super-fem energy, where there was nothing grounded and masculine.”
The renovation took longer than expected due to COVID-19, but the endgame was worth it. “The views out over the Empire Hotel are classic New York; everyone who walks in is drawn to the windows like a magnet.” And she’ll be able to walk to work soon: She plays Betany in the Broadway-bound Britney Spears musical, Once Upon a One More Time.