Photographs by Thomas Loof
Mark Haldeman and James Aguiar’s Park Slope apartment is stuffed with luxe antique finds like 1940s-era triptychs of Greek statuary and turn-of-the-century drawings. It boasts such typically un–New York City amenities as a dressing room and an OCD-certified “shoe library.” It hardly looks like an exercise in downsizing.
Yet, when the couple bought a house upstate six years ago, the outlay meant they needed to give up their previous apartment, a spacious duplex they had called the Mansion. The couple quickly found a floor-through two doors away that was the Mansion in miniature—but there were two major issues. First, the landlord was wary: After a bad experience with a tenant, she let the apartment sit empty for 17 years. Second—well, it sat empty for 17 years.
Aguiar and Haldeman convinced the landlord they would be good caretakers by showing her the Mansion, with its eclectic romp of decades and styles, from Chinese accents to a Parisian taxidermied crocodile. “She looked at it for one minute and said okay,” Aguiar says. “ ‘You can name the rent if you do everything.’” “Everything” meant refinishing the floors, repainting, and installing a new Ikea kitchen, where a broken-down stove once hulked.
Decorating, they took cues from their old apartment. Tony Duquette’s Hollywood-filtered Chinese classicism inspired the moody entryway and the rufous-and-acid-green living room, with its orange geometric rug. The couple’s top sources are estate sales and flea markets, though a Zanotta couch is a relic of Haldeman’s days working as the store manager at Moss.
Entertaining is paramount to the couple, so they decided they would sleep in a dark cove (the “bed box”) to make way for a dining room. And since they’re both in the fashion world (Aguiar is the national fashion director of Modern Luxury, a high-end publisher; and Haldeman runs Paul Smith’s U.S. retail business), a dressing room was a nonnegotiable, with side-by-side closets joined by a shared space for cuff links, bow ties, and other accessories. On the front of their closet, they maintain an ever-changing inspiration board that’s a riot of clipped-out styles and moods—a mirror of the apartment’s curated chaos.
“Things that aren’t meant to go together, go together. But it works,” Aguiar says. “It’s not by the book. We don’t have the book.”