The Pied-à-Terre Downstairs

Illustration by Jason Lee

In 2008, designer-architect Robert Couturier landed a dream project: a London-based family’s second home in an iconic Herzog & de Meuron building downtown. It was to be a 2,400-square-foot, south-facing three-bedroom floor-through splashed with bold colors and a wild mix of contemporary art and modern and vintage furniture. Then, last year, he was approached with a strikingly similar job: same clients, same aesthetic, and, incredibly, the same building. An 1,100-square-foot one-bedroom on a lower floor had come up for sale, and the Londoners had snapped it up. It was to be something of a pied-à-terre for their existing pied-à-terre— a place to host guests, throw parties, and escape from the four kids slowly annexing the apartment above. Because the new space was smaller, a few structural changes were required to match it to the original. Door frames, for instance, were enlarged to play up the drama of the floor-to-ceiling windows. But by and large, says Couturier, “we had the same approach. [The two apartments] are like twins—there’s no stepchild here.”

The Living Rooms Apartment 7A The original apartment, shown here, was significantly larger than the second, but that didn’t stop designer-architect Robert Couturier from using a similar approach. He anchored both living areas with attention-grabbing pieces of art”a painting by Sol LeWitt and a black-and-white photograph series by Rachel Whiteread”and surrounded them with neutral furnishings. Here, a Maison Jansen coffee table and sixties Italian leather chairs. Photo: Peter Margonelli/Courtesy of Robert Couturier

The Bedrooms Apartment 7A A photo of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House hangs above the bed, flanked by Raymond Loewy night tables. Photo: Peter Margonelli/Courtesy of Robert Couturier

The Bedrooms Apartment 6D For the new master bedroom, Couturier tweaked the original’s blue-walls-and-white-linens template. The wall-mounted sculpture is by Federico Uribe from Gallery Fumi in London. Photo: David Allee for New York Magazine

The Dining Rooms Apartment 7A Couturier outfitted both the old and the new space with their own statement features. In the former, that meant an overhead Ingo Maurer light fixture, Ron Arad chairs, and a Paul Smith rug. Photo: Peter Margonelli/Courtesy of Robert Couturier

The Dining Rooms Apartment 6D In the latter, a photograph by Michael Eastman from Barry Friedman gallery and a sixties Verner Panton table-chairs set. Photo: David Allee for New York Magazine

The Pied-à-Terre Downstairs