Designer Tori Golub Puts Her Signature Spin on a Carnegie Hill Apartment

Go with your gut: It’s an instinct that’s been said to lead to the right decision, and in the right direction, more often than not. When Amy and Mitchell Kaneff found themselves in need of a designer for their Park Avenue apartment, they did just that: Mitchell had met Tori Golub through mutual friends and thought of her immediately. The designer’s sensibility, not to mention demeanor, struck him as one that would fall in sync with theirs. The goal? A clean-lined, well-edited contemporary home. It was something they were confident Golub could deliver.

That home lies on a quiet block in Carnegie Hill, a sizable (though not sprawling) apartment that had already been serving the Kaneffs well, accommodating both their growing family and art and music collections. Over time, the couple has amassed an impressive array of contemporary artwork along with a number of guitars, courtesy of Mitchell’s ongoing avocation. (He is the bass player for the band the Young Presidents, aside from his day job as president and CEO of a family business that manufactures decorative cartons for the health and beauty industry.)

Golub, the principal of Tori Golub Interior Design, tends toward the spare and the modern, if not the fairly groovy. Her work has taken shape in Fifth Avenue prewars and SoHo lofts, as well as several West Coast abodes. After meeting with the Kaneffs, Golub knew she could bring her signature cool to the space, even if it might err on the side of edgy for this tony Upper East Side neighborhood. “It’s refreshing that the Kaneffs and I have a similar aesthetic,” she says. “It made the process much smoother.”

The couple immediately found themselves in a constant exchange of ideas with Golub. “We put great thought into each piece we brought into the apartment,” Golub says. “Although we wanted the end result to be a modern, sexy space, we also infused it with warmth, combining sleek sophistication with organic and rustic elements.”
While Amy Kaneff could easily articulate what she didn’t want, she relied on Golub to steer her in the direction of what she did want. “It was difficult at times to visualize everything, but Mitchell and I quickly learned to trust Tori,” she says. “Unlike some designers whose involvement ends with the installation of the furniture, Tori put her attention into every detail—even the accessories, which she hand-picked.”

Contemporary art dealer Benjamin Reed Hunter worked with Golub on her jaunts to Art Basel, shows at the Armory, and the Frieze Art Fair, where they picked up pieces from little-known and established artists alike, such as John Baldessari, Louise Lawler, and Robert Longo. A stunning work by Baldessari now graces the living room, the left panel of which is part of the script from Casablanca, the right a photograph of a woman in a circus outfit. Jim Lambie’s highly floral piece in the hallway depicts David Bowie as its muse. An abstract painting by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and a photo by Nan Goldin hang in the master bedroom, and in the foyer a David Salle painting looms above a sculptural hide-covered bench opposite a cut-glass mirror designed by Golub, placed there specifically to reflect the work. The mirror—made as a statement piece—resembles a crystal and appears to be growing out of the wall. Golub created a mock-up of it so that the Kaneffs could have an idea of the finished product, drawing its shape and making a 3-D rendering of the angles, which were built to scale out of wood by Golub’s millworker. She then took it to a mirror fabricator, who cut and polished each piece and adhered it to the wood.

Golub’s custom touches are apparent throughout the residence, including the master bedroom’s upholstered leather headboard, which is pieced together in puzzle-like fashion, each section a different tone of mauve, taupe, gray, or tan. In the combined dining area and family room, the designer’s Vapor table, a glamorous, streamlined slab of resin, is complemented with a suite of sleek mid-20th-century chairs. Pedigreed vintage pieces play an important role in every room, such as the bedroom’s vintage 1970s Saporiti Italia chair, emblazoned with a citrine-colored fabric. “The chair holds a lot of sentimental value for the family,” says Golub, “and luckily, it works well with all the other pieces, too.” Golub even paid special attention to Mitchell’s music room, where he retreats to play and rehearse. The walnut paneling used within is not only visually stunning, but also cleverly designed to disguise the soundproofing.

“Tori is inspiring and an absolute treasure,” Amy Kaneff says, summing up their collaboration. “I loved looking through magazines and websites and going to fabulous shops with her, all to find special pieces. She provided us with a completely designed apartment!” While the work is mostly done, it seems, both decorator and client are reluctant for the party to end.