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Tour a New York Carriage House That’s Chock-Full of Historic Charm | Architectural Digest

Tour a New York Carriage House That’s Chock-Full of Historic Charm | Architectural Digest

John and Christine Gachot, the husband-and-wife team behind AD100 firm Gachot Studios, will be the first to tell you they’re always up for a good challenge—especially one that, as Christine says, allows them to “flex a different muscle.” And they’ve done just that with their most recent undertaking: A renovation of a mid-19th-century carriage house on one of New York City’s picturesque mews.

Tucked away on Manhattan’s East Side, the single-family pied-à-terre is every bit as quaint as its locale, but at the start of the project, it was in much need of a contemporary update. “I think it was last renovated in the eighties or nineties,” John says.

After owning the 1,700-square-foot residence for several years, the clients tapped Gachot Studios to help them with the project. “The main thing we wanted, apart from a complete refresh, was to introduce color into what was a very beige ’90s palette,” the homeowners said via email.

And therein lay the challenge.

John and Christine decided to take a multilayered approach: one that was sensitive to the home’s history, and imaginative in its use of color. “We wanted to respect this historic little jewel box,” Christine says. The pair restored the original details, such as the crown molding and baseboards, while infusing the space with a modern aesthetic through custom-designed furnishings, textured wall coverings, and the client’s own blue-chip art collection filled with works by Antony Gormley, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Emil Nolde, among other artists.

The project called for “a lot of cleanup,” Christine says. This included overhauling the kitchen and changing the staircase as well as designing an elegant lilac stone fireplace for the great room. The goal, John says, was to honor the carriage house’s historic character “in a little bit of a playful way that’s really true to that period.”

When it came to the client’s expressed interest for a livelier color palette, Gachot Studios saw an opportunity to take a creative leap. “We had to get out of our normal camel toolbox, if you will, so we started really getting into these big color explorations and studies. It was fun,” Christine says. The designers took a cue from Karen Elson’s book, The Red Flame, which chronicles the supermodel’s life and career through personal essays and vibrant photography. “It was really about saturating color,” John says. (Elson is known for her bright red hair.)

From the book, Christine says they were inspired to embrace “that juxtaposition, that celebration of color,” which they deftly pulled off in the carriage house’s dining room. Here, planes of red converge behind Andy Warhol’s Jane Fonda, while crimson threads hang from Fortuny’s pendant light at the center of the room. And the clients couldn’t be happier with the space: “The dining room was previously a dark unused box at the back of the house,” they recall. “Now, thanks to clever lighting and a bold and brilliant use of color, it is a destination we are drawn to all through the day.”

The art collection played an equally critical part in guiding the design strategy, especially in the great room. Early on in the process, Gachot received the art dossier from the clients and blue-taped the placement of specific pieces during the construction phase to ensure that the picture lights were installed in the right place. “[The owners] really were collaborators on that,” John says. “There were pieces that they felt close to that they had gotten from friends and from different artists. And it really helped us work with them.”

In the living room area, a custom-designed, gold-hued sofa and a yellow amber glass side table punctuate the space’s neutral palette with a splash of color. “The furniture and the art needed to do the work here,” John explains. Along the stairway, works from notable artists like Keith Haring, Stuart Davis, and Ed Ruscha form a curated picture wall.

Upstairs, the primary bedroom is a rich saturated green and prominently features artist Marc Quinn’s mesmerizing painting—a depiction of the client’s own eye—above Gachot’s upholstered headboard. A blackout curtain provides some separation between the bedroom’s study and the primary suite sleeping area. It is these thoughtful gestures of which the clients have taken note. “Obviously, the big reveal was spectacular, but as we went through the process, we really enjoyed the big impact [that] small details and changes made, like the ceiling cornicing or the curve of the banister,” the clients commented.

For Gachot, the project was an ideal collaboration between designer and client—one that challenged them in just the right way. “When the ask is something different and gets you to learn, it helps you to be better at what you do,” Christine says. “This project, sincerely, is one of those where we learned a lot.”