Step Inside a Carnegie Hill Residence With a Unique Collection of Contemporary Artwork
A couple makes the move from a Tribeca loft to a classic Upper East Side abode—without forgoing their artful edge.
Whenever interior designer Tara Kantor takes on a new project, she often invokes Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye. Prior to opening her eponymous firm in Scarsdale in 2013, Kantor taught English at a Long Island high school, and the J. D. Salinger novel was a mainstay in her classroom. She cites the book as one of her favorites and its main character as someone she channels for inspiration. “Those who like to read have an ability to envision places and people in their mind’s eye,” Kantor says, “so there’s a link between literature and decorating. That book speaks to me because it’s about a kid who feels disconnected from his environment but learns how to negotiate it.”
With her work on this five-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Carnegie Hill, as well as her other residential projects, Kantor proves how a deep connection can be established between a house and its occupants. “Even in the planning stages,” homeowner and client Nicole Eldridge says, “Tara could show us what it would feel like to live with certain furnishings and accessories. I loved everything she showed my husband and me because I knew how those items would feel to us.”
The couple, who had been living in a rambling loft in Tribeca, had moved to the Upper East Side to be closer to their children’s schools. The large unit in a classic prewar building had the airiness and open-plan aura of a downtown loft, but with firmly demarcated living and sleeping wings. “It really feels like a house in an apartment building,” says Kantor, “with lots of privacy for each of the family members.”
Apart from some cosmetic changes—additional kitchen cabinetry, new floor stains—the apartment was in move-in condition. But while Kantor was nearly finished selecting the furnishings and accessories, the pandemic hit. “We couldn’t quite wrap it up,” she recounts, “but Nicole and I are aesthetically aligned, and it all came together quickly when we were able to start decorating again. This is one my favorite projects, and there’s nothing I would change.”
Eldridge and her husband had wanted all new furnishings, except for an existing collection of contemporary artworks, which they had begun assembling when they were in their early 20s. “We both love every piece of art we buy, and we’re passionate about displaying it to its fullest,” Eldridge says. Kantor’s task: Scale the custom furniture and arrange accessories in a way that no artwork would be obscured. Perhaps the most telling example of this interplay is a bold Keith Haring work that amplifies the foyer, positioned above an equally arresting floating oak credenza made by Simon Johns, which Kantor sourced at the annual ICFF show. “The hand-carving and fluting almost makes the piece appear volcanic,” Kantor says. “I thought it was spectacular the moment I saw it.”
Kantor is a fan of color but leans toward more monochromatic schemes for wall surfaces, convinced that a neutral palette makes for a “peaceful, Zen-like way to live,” in addition to providing a fitting backdrop for works of art. “All walls need love,” she muses, “and without art on the walls, a space just doesn’t feel finished.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Graphic Impact.