A Refined Eye
Elle Decor|November 2016

A Manhattan couple present their longtime decorator, Thad Hayes, with a new challenge—to renovate an apartment in a classic Rosario Candela building into a suitably spare and serene setting for their stunning art collection.

Celia Barbour

THE FIRST STEP WAS A NO-BRAINER. The previous owners had inhabited the apartment for more than half a century, “so it was demolished to the exterior walls,” says Thad Hayes, who oversaw its redesign for longtime clients. The rooms were then reconfigured almost exactly as they had been, with only a handful of minor modifications. Yet what a difference! From the inside out, the roughly 3,000-square foot residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was reborn. 

Gone were a room done up like an English library, a bathroom dressed in dark stone with gold fittings, sketchy wiring, and wonky pipes. In their place: functional, beautiful rooms enveloped in plaster, silk, or cerused oak panels; floors of wide-plank oak or poured-in-place terrazzo; and everywhere, spaces that breathe with clarity, efficiency, and openness. “People who come to our home always say it’s so peaceful,” says the wife about the renovation.

What better atmosphere for a couple looking to simplify their lives? With their children newly grown to adulthood, they were ready to scale down. When a buyer offered to acquire their rambling family apartment, they happily let it go—including most of the furniture. “We got to start all over again,” the wife says. 

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