Text by Yeong Sassall. Photographed by Nicole Franzen. Styled by Katja Greeff. Production by Karine Monié.

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A quiet and calm West Village brownstone inspired by modern Belgian design

Arianna De Gasperis of And Studio imbued this classic Manhattan townhouse with a number of serene and tactile contemporary touches for a young family. Photographed by Nicole Franzen. Styled by Katja Greeff. Production by Karine Monié

Few people would ever describe living in New York City as calm, but the second you step inside the threshold of this West Village townhouse, a sense of peace envelops you. Home to a family of four including two young sons, this typical Manhattan brownstone has been carefully updated to embody a sense of laid-back luxury and tranquillity. Measuring 1,600 square feet and spread out over three-storeys, the building may date back to 1867, but inside, it’s a serene tribute to modern family living.


Designed by Arianna De Gasperis, founder of New York and Jersey based And Studio, with architecture by Elizabeth Roberts Architects, the home has a slightly European sensibility—think: neutral tones interspersed with dark timber, beautifully veined marble and plaster treated walls. “I would say Axel Vervoordt was an inspiration as well as Vincent Van Duysen, two designers who are deeply rooted in ‘modern Belgian style’,” says De Gasperis. The designer and owners are fans of both. “I admire their ability to create warmth and comfort but still have a space feel elegant. There’s also a sense of simplicity in their designs. For example, using high quality materials and letting them speak for themselves with more pared back choices.”


This sense of elevation and restraint is evident in every corner of the home, which sits on the highly sought-after 11th Street. “The West Village is an area that is very casual and relaxed but can also be quite luxurious at the same time,” explains De Gasperis. “The clients are very much the same, and I think their taste and style is really well paired with the home and neighbourhood.” This is the first home the owners have purchased as a family, so it felt particularly important to get everything right. “The owners were very excited when everything was said and done,” adds De Gasperis. “They had been working on the home for years and couldn't wait to settle in.”


Working with the particulars of a 19th century brownstone wasn’t always simple (“there are areas where the walls aren’t straight”), De Gasperis’ own Jersey City brownstone may have given the designer some practice in dealing with old homes. The interior designer embraced the age and heritage of the space, even installing antique stone fireplace mantles which she sourced from Europe to give the home an added sense of patina and history.


Materiality was an integral part of the design, too. “I added texture through the plaster walls, but also the use of raw and ebonized woods, heavy weight linens and unlacquered marble,” says De Gasperis. Her choice of heavily veined marble throughout the home is noteworthy and deliberate, especially in the kitchen, where it is realised to its full potential. “The kitchen stone is extremely special—it would have been a shame to not showcase the marble as a backsplash in the kitchen,” says De Gasperis.


Similarly, in the guest bathroom, a bold and dramatic dark stone takes pride of place on the walls and bathtub. “The client really wanted the primary bathroom to have stone behind the vanity,” she explains. “Not only is it really beautiful, but it’s also very durable over time."


And as with all modern and user-friendly homes, establishing flow in the main living areas of the home was imperative. “I really love the parlour floor of the home,” says De Gasperis. “The entry, living room, dining room and kitchen are all in one open space and they work really well with one another without the area feeling crammed.” Sticking to a neutral palette of cream and rust, with the same tones of dark and raw timber used throughout, there’s a cohesion that flows from the entryway through to the sunlit kitchen terrace. “I really wanted to ensure the spaces flowed into one another seamlessly, and I think we executed that very well.”


In a further nod to her client’s love of Belgian design, De Gasperis chose bathroom hardware and door handles from Belgian-based company Van Cronenburg and covered the lounges in the living room and master bedroom with Belgian linen. They are small and subtle touches, yet add integrity to the design.

Comfortable, harmonious and refined without being stuffy, the townhouse is a prime example of contemporary living at its best.

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