September 1, 2012

Chapter Three: Thrasher Design Company Makes Over an Upper East Side Pied-a-Terre

Few relationships are more intimate than that between an architect and a client. Take the Thrasher Design Company’s Jeffrey Thrasher. His decade of working with a worldly Washington couple now encompasses a third residence, an Upper East Side pied-a-terre for them and their three grown-up children. 

The prime directive for the renovation was to make the 2,200-square-foot prewar a place “where they could all gather,” Thrasher says, “by fitting in as much sleeping space as possible.” And gather they can, thanks to a master suite, two permanent guest rooms, and a library easily adaptable to serve as guest quarters. In the small guest room, a former maid’s room, a daybed can convert in to a king-size bed—set beneath a tapestry by Alexander Calder. Similarly, the library’s sofa combines with a matching ottoman to form a queen-size bed.

In the library and living area, delicately carved rosewood screens by Tommi Parzinger are installed in front of windows to control sunlight and camouflage a courtyard view. “I had the screen panel shinged, so they can open up,” Thrasher says. Solid rosewood paneling in those two spaces,plus the dining area between, comes with a rich back story, having been designed in the 1970’s for a BMW board room. The strongly figured vertical grain looks “as if the tree is still growing,” he says. “The paneling is the center piece of the apartment, heightening and strengthening its overall architecture.”

While rose wood is a nod to the family’s Latin American roots, the original oak floor salutes its Yankee setting. Thrasher loved the texture of the wood but ebonized it to avoid “conflicting with those exotic panels,” he explains. Completing the tableau is furniture by mid-century masters, including an Edward Wormley dining table, and a pair of Vladimir Kagan sofas. Thrasher selected pieces sometimes with the wife of the couple alongside, though often without her present. “Her needs have become very clear to me,” he says. Talk about intimacy.

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