They say that opposites attract. No one knows this to be more true than New York City-based interior designer, Bennett Leifer. Soulful, yet sophisticated; playful, yet unwaveringly poised, Leifer’s eye for opposition was one of many reasons Domino enlisted his help in designing a model unit at the historic One Hundred Barclay building in downtown Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.
“The challenges here were taking this large, impressive, but irregular-shaped space in the living area and making it feel usable and friendly at the same time,” explains Leifer, recalling his initial impressions of the 2,355-square-foot spread.
Tasked with reimagining Loft 13B—a three-bedroom home with water views, pre-war grandeur, and angles to spare—Leifer sought to create a vibrant home that would appeal to curious and design-forward buyers alike. “Bennett’s design has enlivened Residence 13B at One Hundred Barclay with bold color and creativity,” says Ben Shaoul, president of Magnum Real Estate Group. “He leveraged the building’s exceptional finishes, and complemented the space with his trademark chic aesthetic.”
Fierce pops of color, punchy patterns, and luxe materials are just a few ways the designer introduced new life to the space. “It wouldn’t be interesting if you did the same thing every day,” Leifer says of thinking out-of-the-box for the project. “There’s a nice ‘eureka’ moment when you can make something like this happen.”
With a limited budget and timeline—Leifer had three months to complete the project—the Long Island-born designer set out on creating a space that would live up to both his previous, client-based projects and One Hundred Barclay’s rich legacy.
“Buyers are drawn to the building for its history and status as the world’s first Art Deco skyscraper, designed by distinguished architect Ralph Walker,” notes Shaoul. “One Hundred Barclay is not a simple glass box but rather an inspiring landmark, a monument to an era of rich historical significance.”
Formerly known as the New York Telephone Building, the 33-story structure was declared a New York City Landmark in 1999. While One Hundred Barclay’s roaring 1920’s allure certainly played an important role in the designer’s vision, the loft's modern, man-made vistas also informed the unit’s electric palette.
“I took stuff that was in my wheelhouse—colors and patterns I like using—and I drew inspiration from these amazing views,” explains the designer, who felt particularly moved by the dreamy jewel tones found just outside the home’s tall windows, all of which boast treatments by Smith & Noble. “You do see natural elements of the river and a few parks, but there are so many beautiful buildings down here. There's green glass; there’s this beautiful pink glow at sunset you see across the river and on a lot of these reflective surfaces.”
The splashes of deep greens, sea blues, and powerful pinks Leifer spotted outside were thoughtfully translated on to the surfaces of plush accent pillows, textured wall coverings, and painted accent walls within the family-ready loft.
Farrow & Ball’s Pitch Blue marks the foyer as well as the bonus workstation in the living room. Upon arrival, the chic paint color immediately sets the scene for the cheerful moments to come.
“When trying to compile a profile here, [I pictured] interesting people that want to see that same sort of recognizable form; things they’re comfortable with, but they’re probably willing to take a chance,” he says. “It didn’t need to feel formal. We weren’t picturing a seated dinner with waiters for 20.”
In the dining area off the kitchen, an atmospheric accent wall channels a dreamy NYC scene near and dear to the designer’s heart.
“I live on Gramercy Park. I love Gramercy Park. It’s always been important to me,” Leifer says of the Manhattan-inspired wallpaper that he designed in collaboration with De Gournay. “[We’re] also giving one more view that you don’t necessarily have from the apartment. It just feels like a very traditional New York moment.”
For Leifer, nailing down the color story for the space was the easy part. Now divided into five separate living areas, finding a seating arrangement that would tie the irregularly shaped living room together proved to be one of his most pressing challenges.
“Flat walls are a minority in that room. I played around with a lot of different shapes and nothing felt right,” notes the designer, who ultimately decided to anchor the open floorplan with a semi-circular sofa from Room & Board. “I thought that something more amorphis in that really angular space would work well.”
To offset the curvature of the sofa and keep the shared living area from becoming too formulaic, Leifer took a more linear approach to the secondary seating area nearby.
Throughout the residence, whimsical, large-scale prints sourced exclusively from Artstar.com impart the loft’s bare walls with a lively dose of personality.
“I love strong, and kind of stoic, photography,” says Leiffer, who graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in both business and art history. In the master bedroom, two serene landscapes preside prominently over the bed. “The colors, for me, are the perfect greens and the perfect blues. They feel sophisticated, but they’re not overwhelming.”
Swathed in an array of moody emeralds and rich velvets, the master suite is a refined lesson in living intimately with texture and color. Clearly the star of the room, a striking silk wallcovering from Schumacher envelopes the ultra-chic space. In order to preserve precious floor area, the striped headboard, upholstered in Schumacher fabric, was mounted securely to the wall. Eastern Accents supplied the bedding for each of the three, style-focused bedrooms.
When it came to lighting, Leifer stuck with organic and shapely forms. “I focused more on things that felt handmade, that felt sculptural, or just felt very simple and perfect,” says the designer. With the exception of a jungle-inspired fixture in the bunk room, all of the lighting in the unit was sourced from Circa Lighting.
Now a seamless extension of the bedroom, the once-standard master closet became the ultimate dressing room thanks to Carolyn Musher of California Closets.
Situated just adjacent to the master suite is the blue bunk room, which Leifer designed with a pair of young boys in mind. In keeping with the rest of the home’s stylish, carefree attitude, the bright and breezy room is an effortless reflection of the designer’s bold point of view.
“There’s always this tension in me during the design process to want to deliver exactly what I think the client wants, but also, I have to get past my humble nature and go, ‘They’re hiring me for a reason’ and there should be elements of me in the project,” explains Leifer. “This, being more of a fun project without a formal end user, was a great opportunity to do that.”
Down the hall, subtle explosions of pink add character and depth to the unit’s third and final bedroom, where a large print of Joshua Tree, charmingly superimposed with a rainbow, by Ludwig Favre picks up on the dwelling’s seemingly magical aura.
“What’s so beautiful about color is that there are so many options. For me, it’s important not to overthink it,” he says.
Given the unit’s inspired color palette and contagious energy, there’s no doubt that future residents will want to keep the design alive. His advice? Keep the mood light and freeing!
“I would get a really beautiful, jewel-toned dining set—like Bernardaud-pattern china to eat dinner off of—and really sculptural, gem-cut stemware to drink out of,” says Leifer. “What I find with people, sometimes, is at the end of an interior design project you think that you’ve hit a finish line. I would keep the general theme and bring in a lot of color and interesting shapes.”
One Hundred Barclay
3-bedroom, 3 1/2 bathroom
2,355 square feet
Developed by Magnum Real Estate Group & CIM Group
Marketed by Corcoran Sunshine
Huge thanks to the following partners for their generosity on this project: Artstar, Farrow & Ball, De Gournay, Schumacher, Eastern Accents, Smith and Noble, California Closets, and Replacements, Ltd.
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