Step Inside a West Village Pied-à-Terre That Was Inspired by Both Paris and L.A.


“We felt like in New York we were getting the best of both cities in the gorgeous views,” designer Carol Ann Blinken says, referring to the Manhattan location of her part-time residence. That home boasts breathtaking views across the Hudson River and into New Jersey. But as far as the eye may be able to see, Blinken has come even further when it comes to the creative process involved.

The Los Angeles resident had casually searched for a pied-à-terre in her hometown for many years before her quest was reinvigorated by her eldest daughter’s college hunt. Eventually Blinken found the New York home of her dreams: a West Village duplex complete with a terrace. The grassy outdoor space helped her feel like she could enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of her home. (She may have long missed the energy of her native New York, but admits that she has become accustomed to the open-air lifestyle of L.A.)

Once the residence had been purchased, Blinken turned to Los Angeles–based architect Steve Giannetti to help her reimagine the space. The two flew to New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With no heat in the bare apartment, they warmed themselves with the stovetop as they drafted a layout. The design process was organic for Blinken, and she completed it in only three days. With a plan in mind, she then began searching for furniture at auction houses in Los Angeles, New York, and Europe—filling the new home with elements that she had always coveted. Unsurprisingly, the duplex has evolved since she purchased it. “It’s like a living, breathing collection,” she muses.

The openness of the home—which Blinken and her family have found themselves frequenting while on city-focused getaways—also recalls an interiors style often associated with Southern California. That’s true especially in the library and kitchen, which are in tune with a light-filled and laid-back notion of luxury.

Watery blues, earth tones, and organic materials—all hallmarks of the City of Angels—can be seen throughout the duplex. Blinken’s design scheme was influenced by her travels as well: Having lived in Paris for a year, the designer opted for chalky white cabinetry and molding throughout the apartment. She also juxtaposed antique pieces with more modern elements in the ultra-bright space. In particular, the unmistakably contemporary glint of the primary bedroom (cue the floating custom TV) is rounded out by a sitting area scattered with vintage finds.

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Ignore L.A. and Paris for just one moment, however, and it becomes clear that there are still some aspects of the apartment that are quintessentially New York. “We took a large part of the space and turned it into the library, which I conceived as a beautiful, elegant, romantic, lacquered [room on the] Upper East Side,” says Blinken. The library features a Willy Rizzo coffee table with a pearl finish and some of Pierre Jeanneret’s quietly powerful seating options. To add humor to the room, Blinken added an ostrich feather lamp. “It’s not a designer lamp, but it has that feeling,” she notes.

“One of the things I love most about that apartment is the contrast,” Blinken adds. The stairs, for instance, have herringbone floors and raw structural details. “You know, it has these beautiful architectural elements, some that are very finished. I just love the way it feels every time I’m in there.”

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