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Hyper Design

Portrait from the ballroom of Kohle Yohannan's Yonkers castle.  

Bland glass skyscrapers, blander box apartments, watered-down everything; nobody’s got taste anymore, say the pessimists. Of course, they are so wrong, as the ensuing pages make very clear. Even with prohibitive real-estate prices and recession tremors, amazingness lives. The six homes we show here don’t hew to any trend; each is the manifestation of an intensely (insanely) personal vision. The blindingly white Olympic Tower apartment in midtown took three years and God knows how many meetings/e mails/phone calls to complete, but now it floats above the city like a shiny, perfect cloud (proof that wildly idiosyncratic homes can live behind a glass curtain). Kohle Yohannan’s eighteen-room castle in Yonkers probably won’t ever be “done,” but it’s a fanciful wonder to behold, evidence both of his DIY skills and his imagination (one room is inspired by Jules Verne, another by Choderlos de Laclos). Charlotte Moss turned her nondescript Upper East Side backyard into a Bel Air–worthy garden and a year-round open hearth. Artist Mark Beard rolled up his sleeves, got out the table saw, and took on a wreck of a seventies loft with enterprising handiwork and many trips to Home Depot. A family in Queens built a modernist dream house amid Dutch Colonials. And Judyth van Amringe spent four months meticulously assembling her Red Hook nest, an artful, comforting collection of objects found and made. Her home, like the others, is a retreat from blandness, a statement of identity, and proof that behind any façade, you might find wonderland.

How to Save a Castle
MISSION STATEMENT: “You can change the world with a staple gun and a hot-glue gun.”
Eleven TVs. No Bookshelves.
MISSION STATEMENT: “Everything was about not obstructing the view.”
The DIY Artist Loft
MISSION STATEMENT: “If you are working in plywood, you really have to go grand.”
Modernism Rocks the Neighborhood
MISSION STATEMENT: “We got stopped so many times once we started construction, we decided to build what we wanted to build.”
There’s a House in This Apartment
MISSION STATEMENT: “I like living with my stuff. I feel safe when it’s around.”
The Year-Round Garden, With Fireplace
MISSION STATEMENT: “I needed an outdoor room. I wanted to have that little bit of Bel Air.”