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If Marie Antoinette Took the A Train

A Rockaways retreat where a queen might feel at home.

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Photographs by Dean Kaufman


OBSESSION: Beheaded royalty


When interior designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz and Steven Wine of And Bob’s Your Uncle Lighting sealed the deal on an oceanfront two-bedroom in the Rockaways in November, they knew they’d bought their ideal retreat. It was just an hour away from their Chelsea duplex by A train and reminiscent of the house in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, where Noriega-Ortiz summered as a child. But they needed a muse. The couple soon found her when, Googling around for inspiration, Wine came across a portrait of Marie Antoinette at age 12. Because their main residence is all whitefrom white shag carpeting to white acrylic fixturesthis second home brought a chance to have some fun with color and backstory. And who better to inspire such a motif? We decided to use those colors, but also her life, Noriega-Ortiz says of the image, which he had printed onto an acrylic frame to create a floating effect and later hung prominently in the living room. Like, if Marie Antoinette was to find an apartment at Rockaway Park in 2011, what would she have? She wouldn’t have plastic furniture. She should have velvets and furs and crystals. To pick up on the blue-green of Marie Antoinette’s gown in the portrait, as well as the ocean, Noriega-Ortiz used a Tiffany-blue scheme for that space, which also includes crystals faceted to the walls, feathered lamps, and taxidermy birds. (We realized she turned Hameau de la Reine into a working farm, so these are the chickens and turkeys from her farm, he adds.) An exercise in over-the-top glamour, the bedroom is saturated in the hot pink of the teen queen’s cheeks in the portrait. She commands the apartment, Noriega-Ortiz says. Even when we’re not there, the place is not empty.


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