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Design Diplomats

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Interior Dialogue
After two years of thinking and talking, the renovation can seem the easy part.

THEY MET: She’d lived in this Central Park West duplex since 1986, and her eye was wandering. “Over the last few years, I’d been trying to convince my husband that I wanted a change,” says the owner, an attractive empty-nester with multiple homes who asked that her name not be used. The French Art Deco pieces she’d collected seemed not right for her now. She was feeling more Asian, simple. Two years ago, she walked into the Donna Karan Collections store on Madison, and its clean space came as a revelation to her. She asked for the name of the architects, and was handed Bonetti/Kozerski’s card. That store simply “makes me feel good. It’s very calming.” She and Enrico Bonetti are sitting at a card table in her empty living room—days before the demolition was to begin—going through a file folder of pictures of chairs she’d torn out of magazines.

HOW IT CAME TO THIS: Her apartment has an interesting provenance: Most of it had been designed by Robert A. M. Stern in the seventies, in all white. Later, Michael Graves redid a hallway in postmodern style (that hall was later donated to the Brooklyn Museum). The couple spent a year gutting and redoing the place with Deco-appropriate pommele walls (left, second photo). Their architects also inserted an oblong opening in the living-room ceiling up to the master bedroom.

WHAT SHE WANTED: A new phase in her life. “I’m letting go of things. And reaching for something more feng shui.” The Deco collection went to auction. Plus she had to get rid of that hole in her apartment. “I couldn’t sleep because of it,” she says. “I swear, I’m telling you it’s because of that opening.”

HUSBAND TROUBLE: “It was a process for my husband to get his mind in gear with—‘She wants to rip the whole apartment out, and she wants to sell all the furniture when I love it.’ So it took a little convincing.”

COMING TO AN UNDERSTANDING: They got him onboard by interesting him in the technical aspects of the renovation (“He’s a frustrated G.C.,” she says) and by limiting its scope to the living and dining rooms (left, third photo), master bedroom (left, first photo), and a dressing area for her. Venetian plaster replaced the wood panels. “I said I wanted red here, which is very feng shui also,” she says. “But I didn’t want lipstick red, so it took a few times till we got it.”

THINGS ARE COOKING: “Did I tell you I finally got him on the kitchen?” she asks Bonetti. “Did he agree?” asks Bonetti. “He doesn’t have a choice,” she says. Bonetti is standing in front of the stove, looking at her sparkling collection of high-end hanging pans. “I’d like to prepare a risotto for you—it’s my specialty,” he says. She smiles brightly. —Carl Swanson


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