Designer Bennett Leifer had long dreamed of living in one of the stately buildings that line Gramercy Park, one of the last private green spaces in Manhattan. Now he is the proud owner of a key to that urban oasis—along with a one-bedroom prewar apartment in a neo-Gothic-style building he first admired in his early 20s.
Featuring large rooms, a sensible layout, and a sweeping view of the park, the apartment was an unanticipated purchase, but one Bennett knew was too good to pass up. And though it wasn’t hard for the designer to imagine what the once-dated space could become, transforming the apartment into his ideal home “required a lot of cleaning up,” Bennett says.
From the exterior, the formality and symmetry that Bennett so loves about the neo-Gothic style were apparent; inside, layers of bad wallpaper and surfaces subjected to decades of wear and tear meant Bennett had his work cut out for him. He started by replacing all things electrical, skim-coating the walls, and squaring off openings. He restored original details, such as the fireplace and the living room windows, to a modernized state of their former glory. And he brought in furnishings representing a healthy mix of provenance and periods, all with easy living in mind.
“What I’ve always loved about Gramercy Park,” Bennett says, “is that it’s such a small area with so many different architectural styles, and each one is unique thanks to the way they’ve been so beautifully maintained.” Considering his own thoughtfully updated apartment, it’s safe to say Bennett is keeping that spirit of creativity and preservation alive.
What I’ve always loved about Gramercy Park is that it’s such a small area with so many different architectural styles, and each one is unique thanks to the way they’ve been so beautifully maintained.