After years of running the corporate events department at Nickelodeon, Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo made a midlife career switch. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design and discovered her true calling: interior design.
Her four-year-old residential design business, LBR | Home, has completed projects in New York City and Westchester, and she is currently masterminding the gut reno of a Bay Ridge townhouse.
“I was always an artist at heart,” she said, and the lively décor of the home she shares with her husband, Bob Russo, bears it out. Among the apartment’s recent enhancements: a spectacular new bathroom of highly-figured marble and an outdoor roof deck for cooking and entertaining that few would not envy.
The one-bedroom unit, which Blumenfeld-Russo bought as a single woman in 2005, had been built atop a vintage row house when the building went co-op in the 1980s. The couple has exclusive rights to the 750-square-foot roof, but they never did anything to improve it until it started leaking and needed repairs. Then they decided to go all the way and create a dream roof deck.
“I love to garden and Bob loves to cook, and we both love to entertain. I was inspired by the landscaping of the High Line, and we built it with all that in mind,” Blumenfeld-Russo said. The new deck occupies nearly the entire roof. It required the installation of steel beams to support its weight, a major engineering feat, as well as the construction of a new interior staircase located just outside the front door to their apartment.
The apartment’s deep gray walls (Steel Wool by Benjamin Moore) provide a moody backdrop for the global art and accessories the couple has acquired on their extensive travels (Blumenfeld-Russo has visited more than 40 countries, including four trips to India).
Though the furnishings have a generally contemporary bent, “I’m split down the middle between loving modern, clean lines and simple spaces, and having an eclectic feeling, with artwork and sculpture from my travels peppered throughout,” she said. “My goal was to create a neutral palette and layer in the travel stories.”
A white sofa from Bo Concept and a glass waterfall console from Allmodern in the living room anchor a curated collection of pieces from the couple’s travels, including an African mask and sandstone sculpture from South Africa, a turquoise bowl from the Greek Islands and an orange lacquer vessel from Myanmar.
Blumenfeld-Russo’s choice of Hans Wegner-designed Danish modern dining chairs was inspired by a recent trip to Copenhagen.
The dining table is custom-made of cerused wood. The Cellula chandelier from Design Within Reach adds sparkle.
A recent tweaking of the kitchen included a new stepped shelf with three storage drawers above the existing black granite counter and a new herringbone-patterned floor.
Custom hand-painted wallpaper of dark gray with gold “ink blots” from Porter Teleo is a recent upgrade in the apartment’s one bedroom.
The Fandango pendant light is by Philippines-based Kenneth Cobonpue, while the Chinese bedside tables originally belonged to Blumenfeld-Russo’s grandparents.
Blumenfeld-Russo shopped exhaustively for the incredible blue-veined Calacatta Cielo marble, finding it at New York Stone. “We bought an enormous amount because we wanted to book match it, ending up with eight slabs of marble,” she recalled. “It was insane.” They gave the excess back to the store.
The new bath has unlacquered brass fittings from Newport Brass and his-and-hers rain shower heads. The floors are basic white tile from Porcelanosa, the wall color custom-mixed to blend with the tiles.
The showstopping roof deck has panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, with plenty of room for dining and lounging (even dancing!) and an outdoor kitchen for serious cooking.
Sixteen-inch-square quartzite tiles, half the weight of concrete pavers, were laid without grout.
The wraparound banquette with built-in storage is made of ipé, a hardwood that is naturally mildew resistant.
Panels of Sunbrella fabric tied on to the pergola hide patio heaters and act as a retractable awning.
Planters along the roof’s perimeter, planned with Brooklyn-based design firm Studio Prospect, contain herbs, tomatoes, peppers and more. Potted birch trees and ornamental grasses provide a backyard feeling.
The outdoor kitchen includes a Fire Magic charcoal grill, an under-counter refrigerator, a beverage station with an insulated bin for chilling drinks, stainless steel cabinets and weatherproof stone counters.
[Photos by Tim Williams]
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