Inside the playrooms of NYC’s luckiest grown-ups
Why sweat with strangers when you can cycle soulfully at home?
Or rent a recording studio when you could have a private booth just down the hall?
It’s no longer enough to have an elegant communal activity space in your building these days. The city’s savviest high-end buyers are pushing the limits of private, in-home amenities — and eschewing the city’s maddening throngs to build their own luxurious domestic amusements.
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch.Photo: Robert Wright
Each apartment at west Chelsea’s Fitzroy, a condo building designed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams set to open in late 2017, comes with its own hobby room: an individual, climate-controlled space in the basement amenities floor that can be tricked out at a buyer’s whim.
With 12 -foot ceilings and doors that lock, these hideaways (which measure up to 206 square feet) “are really gracious,” says Vickey Barron, the Douglas Elliman broker who’s selling the building. “If they had windows, they’d work as a guest room.”
She’s already witnessed two clients, a couple, jockeying for dibs. “He’s a woodworker and wanted a workroom, but she wanted a music room,” Barron reports, adding that another prospective buyer expressed interest in a darkroom. “In winter,” Barron enthuses, “you don’t have to leave and go out to some common rental place just to do what you love.”
Joe Ginsberg wasn’t merely tasked with creating an “industrial Zen” aesthetic for this 2,300-square-foot Prospect Heights loft — he also had to come up with an inviting (and sound-muffling) kid zone.
His clients didn’t want their three little ones blasting the TV in the living and dining areas, so Ginsberg converted one of the bedrooms into a cozy, cylindrical media room, complete with soundproof walls covered in Dupioni silk. To keep things luxe, he upholstered its three-tier stadium seating with shantung, and designed a custom, hand-carved elm media unit, fitted with LED lights.
“The space is special — it became the kids’ hangout,” he explains. “At the same time, it’s lush and serene, and in line with the rest of the apartment.”
When Stuart Parr renovated his three-story Tribeca townhouse, once home to Area nightclub in the ’80s, he wanted to preserve its original rager vibe. So he installed a sensational 45-foot heated marble pool in the basement, which, he jokes, proved “very popular for my daughter’s birthday parties.”
Parr worked with a braintrust of engineers to devise structurally sound ways to dig out the underground pool, keep the room cool and dry, and firmly attach slabs of Carrara marble — which he fell in love with during numerous trips to Italy — to the walls and ceiling.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re in Manhattan,” Parr marvels. “It feels like you’re in the Hamptons or the Gold Coast.”
If you’re a triathlete, the last place you want to exercise is under the glare of fluorescent lights in a public gym.
That was the complaint from a prominent client of Greg Dufner and Daniel Heighes Wismer (of the architectural firm Dufner Heighes), who longed for an exclusive workout space rather than the communal joint in the basement of her Chelsea building.
The architects incorporated must-have equipment — an elliptical, a bike, a treadmill, some weights — but they also aimed to “keep the space integrated with the rest of the home,” Wismer notes.
There’s a full-wall mirror and a flat-screen TV for online yoga sessions, while oak floors and striped walls blend in with the rest of the penthouse.
“We wanted to make it feel residential, not commercial — this isn’t a 9,000-square-foot house where you can tuck the gym out of the way. This is a Manhattan penthouse. Everything is right there.”
The owners of this UES townhouse work out their kinks in an at-home massage and yoga room.Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Post Design
To create this private, Bali-inspired yoga and massage room in an Upper East Side townhouse, interior designer Jennifer Post looked to luxury hotels and destination spas, finding “ways to take those experiences and re-create them in an intimate, residential setting,” she says. “A huge motivation for the top floor was to create a serene escape after a long day at work: a quiet place for the couple to enjoy a massage and practice yoga.”
Post kept the palette serene, choosing dark woods for the floors and the storage console; white for the crown moldings and Frette linens; and gray for the window sheers and base moldings. A floor-to-ceiling mirror allows African-inspired art to be seen from practically every angle — even while inverted in downward dog by the foot of the massage tables. “The most special moment of a day after work, even in Manhattan, can be in your own private space for relaxing,” Post says. “We need this as New Yorkers!”
By Sarah Firshein, New York Post
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