A worldly couple looked to longtime collaborators Fawn Galli and Douglas Wright to breathe new life—and plenty of light—into a classic space on New York’s Upper West Side
Everything changed through the year-long gut renovation, led by architect Douglas Wright and interior designer Fawn Galli. The trio has worked together on projects since the 1990s that include prior apartments and a farmhouse in Cornwall, Connecticut. They speak design shorthand. “The space was not that obvious and grand, not that shock that many are interested in giving,” says the owner. “I wanted something more appealing and low-key with light—the feeling of being in Central Park.”
First, the whole apartment was opened up to the park. Architect Douglas Wright, whose primary aim was to capture the available light, altered the central space to create a single loft-like living and dining area that does feel very much a part of the park just beyond the windows. Other new elements, like variegated glass walls, allow natural light to pass through the apartment while also creating a flow for occupants, ultimately creating a space that feels much larger than its actual footprint.
Despite the ample updates, the owners didn’t want to lose the sensibility of a classic prewar New York apartment. To that end, Wright painstakingly recreated the moldings and details from the couple’s previous apartment, in the iconic Langham, also on Central Park West. These design elements were incorporated into the space, alongside modern touches like the mirrored fireplace. The use of transparency, reflective surfaces, white enamel, and glossy tiles further pulls the expansive park light throughout the home.
“When Fawn walked in, she said, ‘Milanese apartment with that old-world-meets-midcentury mix,’ even referencing the Villa Necchi Campiglio, and that was it,” recalls the owner, referring to the home featured in the 2009 Luca Guadagnino film I Am Love. “I love the leather door with the round window. It feels deeply Milanese.”
Galli was able to work unfettered and with a deep level of trust. She took the design cues and pushed boundaries. “I like to give a punch and pull back,” Galli says of elements like the acid-yellow Hermès velvet sofa. “Then I surround it with 60 percent gray.” This signature decorating move is also evident in Galli’s use of bright-blue stained concrete on the floors of the kitchen and master bath, countering with natural marbles and softer colors. Galli’s use of contemporary elements pairs exceptionally well with the lighting design by Dimore Studio, alongside Eero Saarinen and flea market finds.
“I like to under-furnish,” Galli says. “I like space between things to really show the forms,” which is especially evident in the dining room, where a Double Posa Counterweight Pendant Lamp by Florian Schulz frames a contemporary Fiona McDonald table. “Nothing is precious—they really live in the space.”