Lee Broom’s New York home is incredibly glamorous. A 280-square-metre duplex spread across the fifth and sixth floors of a 147-year-old cast-iron building in the heart of Tribeca.
As one might expect from the British designer, the penthouse carries all the hallmarks of his design brand: contemporary and playful with its roots in classical design, always precise and elegant.
Lee wanted to use his second home – he’s mostly based in London – to showcase his own products, his collection of vintage furniture and art and also as a place in which to experiment with interior design.
‘My apartment in London is open-plan, so, design-wise, everything needs the same sort of look and feel. It’s very minimalist,’ explains Lee, who lives there with his partner in life and business Charles Rudgard. ‘This space allowed me to explore different colour schemes and textures, and to create a series of vignettes.’
As with many of New York’s historical buildings, much of the theatre lies in its proportions and natural light: vast full-length windows, grand ceiling heights, cornicing. It’s also energy-efficient, with triple-glazed windows and local materials have been chosen wherever possible; 300-year-old reclaimed oak from The Hudson Company is used as flooring and Danby marble sourced in Vermont features on countertops and in the bathrooms.
‘I think that all appealed to me. In my own work there’s this sense of tradition and a historical narrative but shown in a modern way. I really like how that has been interpreted here,’ Lee explains.
The formal living room to the front of the building on the fifth floor is an exercise in serenity and calm, with soft tones of cream, ivory and sand highlighted with black and brass finishes. Lee has designed site-specific pieces here, too, such as the exquisite modular ‘White Street’ sofa, which appears to float weightlessly over its ash end tables.
Both the travertine fireplace surround and black marble cantilevered ‘Tribeca’ coffee tables, also designed by Lee, reflect the notched architectural details of the brutalist-style AT&T Long Lines Building seen from the window. A kitchen is discreetly hidden behind muslin drapery, while the television has been disguised by a Dedar tapestry stretched on canvas above the fireplace.
By contrast, the dining room on the floor above is full of drama and is Lee’s favourite space. No wonder. As you enter, you’re confronted with killer views of Freedom Tower from the terrace – it’s spectacular.
The room itself is all 1970s nostalgic glamour. ‘This is a place made for entertaining and where I make the most cocktails,’ smiles Lee. Walls are either draped with pleated velvet curtains or lined with a sapphire moiré wallpaper.
‘I wanted this space to reflect the skyline at night, that beautiful blue light at dusk just as the lights of the skyscrapers are turned on,’ adds Lee. ‘There’s an amazing sensation of nighttime approaching.’
The penthouse also houses two bedroom suites. The guest room, with its own dressing room and bathroom, is next to Lee’s private study. Light grey walls prove the ideal backdrop for the Victorian vitrine filled with the porcelain vessels he designed in collaboration with Wedgwood.
The study next door has a curated gallery wall with commissioned art pieces, including a self-portrait by his friend the British Ghanaian artist and stylist Shirley Amartey. The vintage record player, bought in Brighton when Lee was young, sits beneath an original Keith Haring painted jacket. ‘I’ve had that for a long time,’ he explains. ‘Haring painted it for his boyfriend, so it feels deeply personal. It felt right bringing it back to New York.’
A postmodern, late 1960s bed in spun brass and stainless steel dominates the main bedroom on the sixth floor. ‘It’s quite brutal,’ admits Lee. ‘The combination of materials is something I really love at the moment.’
A smaller terrace off the bedroom has views of the Empire State Building. ‘Actually, the tub in our bathroom is in front of a huge window – you can see The Empire State from the bath,’ adds Lee. New York at its finest. leebroom.com
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