DOSSIER: NAME: Neal Beckstedt TRADE: Interior designer, Neal Beckstedt Studio. VIBE: Airy and open with textural details. ABODE: Four-bedroom new-construction model apartment in The Lucida in New York, NY.A designer of a model home or staged property knows his or her work was a success when a unit sells. But interior designer Neal Beckstedt had further proof that his design of a four-bedroom unit in The Lucida, a condominium building on Manhattan's Upper East Side, was a hit: within a few weeks of finishing, a buyer fell in love with the apartment and bought all the furniture.
Designing a model apartment "is a totally different animal," Beckstedt says. "It was a challenge in that I had to make up a story and make it believable, yet also execute it in such a way in that it would be relatable to a lot of people." While prewar apartments usually have some sort of historical precedence or architecture that can inspire a design, "these new buildings are completely a blank canvas," the designer says. "You really need to think about how you're going to achieve depth and details. Whether you're going to add them or go with a minimal box and very rich items that sit within that box, you need to think carefully and study it."
|Hugo Arm Chair, $825, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams||Oblique Dining Table, $1199, West Elm||Cowhide Rug, $198, eCowhides|
One challenge particular to the unit was its expansive open plan living and dining area. "A lot of people walked in and didn't know what to do with it," Beckstedt says. "With the use of furniture and decorative elements, we delineated different areas within the space." The living room's Moroccan rug "has a huge scale and actually fades from one end to the other." The designer celebrated the carpet's unusual design by playing with contrasts and creating two separate sitting areas on each; the brown side side of the rug is offset by white Womb chairs and the white side by a darker gray sofa. "It's a balance, and it really plays with the coloring of everything," he says.
|Cedro Moroccan Wool Rug, From $1495, Restoration Hardware||Womb Chair and Ottoman, $3758, DWR||Tan Leather Chinese Trunk circa 1920, $2400, 1st Dibs|
The apartment's floor-to-ceiling windows (one of its greatest assets) were also a challenge, so Beckstedt sought to create more privacy in the main public areas. At Lost City Arts, "a great vintage store downtown," the designer uncovered a salvaged white metal building exhaust with a great graphic quality, which he used as a screen for the tall windows. "It was part of a building facade in Philadelphia, and I think it was more of a deco building," he says. "I just loved how it played with shapes." The apartment's light sheer curtains were hung on track rods, so they can easily be opened and closed. "The space is so open, which is a good thing, but sometimes it's a negative," Beckstedt. "With sheers, you're still letting in light, but you won't always been seen walking around by the neighbors. A lot of people want the look and feel of an open apartment, but you need to translate it to make it functional."
|Starburst Wall Mirror, $199, Crate & Barrel||Ajax Chair, Price Upon Request, Oly||Platner Coffee Table, $1498, DWR|
|Living Room Berber Rug FJ Hakimian||Miles van der Rohe Brno Dining Chairs Knoll||Drapery Fabric Maharam|
|Root Stool Side Table Mecox Gardens||Cowhide Rugs ABC Carpet & Home||Pombal Bookcase Tema Home|
|Vintage Aluminum Screen Lost City Arts||Florence Knoll Coffee Table Knoll||Green Velvet Side Chair Lost City Arts|