Andrianna Shamaris had a straightforward request when hunting for an apartment in 2007: “I told the broker I wanted to look out at a tree.” After months of touring apartments that overlooked other buildings, she finally found a fifteenth-floor two-bedroom with staggering views of Central Park. She had more trees to look at than she could count. Never mind that the prewar apartment was pretty run-down—what brokers term “estate” condition. Shamaris recalled an ultramodern apartment she had seen, designed by Brooklyn-based architect Thomas Leeser. She called him in to help.
Her instructions were to create a clean, crisp space that didn’t completely erase the apartment’s original character. “I wanted this to be more of a restoration, not just a renovation,” says Shamaris, who runs an eponymous store in Soho that specializes in earthy furniture and accessories from Southeast Asia. As a result, Leeser created a space that “has three directions.”
“It’s a careful balance between the materiality of these Southeast Asian things that she collected, the classical atmosphere of the existing building, and a modern, minimal, clean look and functionality,” says Leeser.
He demolished walls to open the space up and modernized with amenities like a glass Valcucine kitchen and central air-conditioning. The design team reproduced moldings that were unsalvageable, reinstalled existing crystal doorknobs on new resin doors, and uncovered the original cast-iron radiators. Shamaris retiled the foyer, kitchen, and bathroom with custom concrete— “Why would I buy tiles when the ones I make are so much nicer?” she asks—and added bold texture by manufacturing her own full-height doors from weathered teak with a shell inlay.
Illustration by Mat Williams
The full-height teak pivot doors are inlaid with shell”a recurring feature in owner Andrianna Shamaris’s furniture designs. When closed, they hide the kitchen and foyer. The new floors were bleached three times, so they seem to disappear. The table and chairs, both teak, are antiques. The pillows are upholstered in ceremonial Balinese sarongs. An unusual piece of teak Shamaris discovered in Sumatra is displayed as a sculptural object. Photo: David Allee
Shamaris left the frame of this daybed outdoors in Sumatra for two years to give it a weathered look. With enough exposure to the elements, Shamaris says, “real old teak is always going to become this gorgeous gray color.” Photo: David Allee
The floor-to-ceiling liana vine serves as both a sculptural statement and coat tree. Shamaris made concrete tiles to give the foyer a sense of texture and permanence. Photo: David Allee
The living room fireplace, painted white, blends into the wall. Photo: David Allee
Shamaris made the concrete tiles in the master bathroom herself. Photo: David Allee