Reflecting a client’s lifestyle is a given for Betty Wasserman Art & Interiors. But Betty Wasserman went one step further at this Chelsea bachelor pad, created from a trio of apartments. Once she and her longtime architect collaborator, Highland Associates principal Glenn Leitch, had squared away the basics—evening out the ceiling heights, installing recessed halogen downlights—her job, as she saw it, was to make the apartment suitable for the kind of life the owner might have in the future.
A very successful thirtysomething banker, he had bought the place largely for its prime location and 4,000-square-foot size. Significantly less attractive was the lack of character. “It was a vanilla box, done with minimal creativity,” Wasserman explains. To improve the entertaining flow between the kitchen and the living-dining area, she and Leitch sculpted two perpendicular walls into a gentle curve.
Some of the personality would come from art. Drawing on her previous career as a private dealer, Wasserman paid homage to the owner’s Jordanian roots by filling the apartment with works by Middle Eastern artists who live or show their work in New York. She also camouflaged the shaftway outside a kitchen window, needed for ventilation purposes, by designing a screen with an Arabic calligraphy motif.
Implementing his preferred color scheme, gray and more gray, she accented it with polished plaster walls, gray or eggplant, to “keep it from feeling too drab or corporate,” she says. Upholstery on a pair of Milo Baughman armchairs and a tufted daybed is eggplant-colored. Brightest of all, improbably, are the displays of jelly beans, the client’s favorite candy: rows of canisters in the pantry and an assortment of jelly-bean sculptures in the living area and master bathroom.
She convinced the bachelor, who rarely cooks, to sign off on a 12-seat table for dinner parties in the future. In the master bedroom, silvery fabrics “make it masculine enough for him but keep it soft enough that, when a woman does join his life, she can move right in without having to redo anything,” Wasserman says. Except maybe those jelly beans.