I'm often asked to recommend books on interior design especially for those just starting out. My new recommendation is Howard Slatkin's new book Fifth Avenue Style: A Designer's New York Apartment. In it, he chronicles the almost three year renovation of his magnificent apartment on upper Fifth Avenue from purchase to completion which even includes before photos. I know some of you might dismiss the home and the book as a bit fancy but this is interior design at the pinnacle. The craftsmanship and attention to detail should be applauded and studied by all who practice design and those who just love it.
Howard Slatkin grew up in New Jersey where his interior design firm is based with an appreciation for beauty and design. His family owned a textile company that his mother had to step in and run after his father's death. Many items in his apartment come from his mother and you can see how important family is to Howard. You might remember Slatkin and Co. which was founded by Howard and his brother Harry. It was their wonderful candles for C.Z Guest that were my first encounter with the brand. They sold Slatkin to Bath and Body Works but kept the private label business which became Nest Fragrances. It is run by Howard's sister-in-law Laura. Howard even helped design Laura and Harry's apartment which you can see here. Recently, Harry helped resuscitate the venerable British brand Belstaff where he is now CEO. Chicness runs in the family for sure.
I have gotten to know Howard through Instagram and was recently invited to lunch at his exquisite home where the book magically came to life. It was a lovely treat to walk through the apartment and have Howard point out the details himself. We chatted at length about his appreciation for the artisans that worked on so much of his home and those of his clients. The apartment is featured in T magazine this weekend where Howard tells the story of inviting the entire crew of artisans, craftspeople and millworkers over for the first dinner in the finished space so they could appreciate the finished project. Now that's chic.
Howard was kind enough to let me know take some photos when I visited his home recently. I did not bring a flash or tripod so I've interspersed a few of the T magazine photos by Simon Watson into the mix, including the first image, and they are noted.
For a minute, I thought a very chic woman was hiding in the apartment when I saw the beautiful grey alligator Birkin sitting on the settee. Howard told me the story of his mother setting it there one day on a visit. He remarked how perfectly it matched and she began taking out the contents so she could leave it for him. He insisted that he did not want her to leave her bag but after she got home, she had it sent over.
The apartment is full of jib doors including this one that leads to the kitchen. The wallpaper still continues so that scene continues even though it's only Howard and his staff who will probably see it.
There is nothing that drives me crazier than contractors who place light switches and thermostats in very public areas. In public areas, Howard has them placed behind panels so they are never seen.
A view of the beautiful jewel box dining room from T magazine.
Our table by the window set for lunch.
Howard chose beet soup to start because of the beautiful contrast to the green bowl.
The apartment is very much a place for entertaining. There is something about all the bits of mirror and beading and glittering details that remind me of tremblant jewelry. Diamonds were mounted on little springs that allowed them to move and more importantly, reflect light and sparkle in candlelight. While things don't move in the apartment, I can imagine that they must catch the light and sparkle during a party.
The living room as seen in T magazine.
Every home should have a bar.
The mirrored doors back to the dining room were designed by Stephane Boudin and came from Jayne Wrightsman's home in Palm Beach.
Objets rest on every surface of the apartment.
Mirrored side panels in a window allow the view of Central Park to extend and lets more light into the space.
This little Matisse might be my favorite painting in the apartment.
The gorgeous guest bedroom from T magazine.
Another view from T magazine.
A detail of the hardware all custom designed by Howard with P.E. Guerin.
Howard has thought of every detail for his guests.
The screening room as seen in T magazine.
Screening room in T magazine.
A bowl of baubles in the screening room.
The sides of the doorway are paneled with prints and bamboo.
Howard custom designs bed linens for himself and his clients.
The fireplace in the master bedroom.
Not sure you can see the embroidered fabric that lines the walls and the job door to the closet but the workmanship is exquisite.
Howard showing me a detail of the curtain embroidery.
The closet is as organized as the rest of the apartment.
Howard does not believe in white kitchens and his was inspired by rooms in the Menshikov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In the private spaces, light switches and thermostats are painted to match the walls. A design detail that did not go unnoticed.
Howard and I both love the "below stairs" spaces where all the china and linens are kept and his are organized to perfection.
As I mentioned, Howard entertains often when he's in New York and he collects beautiful and interesting china. for those occasions.
I joked that I heard angels sing when he opened the silver closet. He said that the special fabric really does help prevent tarnish.
The linens are scented with soap.
This is just a little glimpse into Howard Slatkin's beautiful home. I thank him for generously allowing me to experience it in person so I could share it with you. I hope you will take a look at his new book Fifth Avenue Style. I guarantee it will inspire you for years to come.
All photos by me except where noted which are by Simon Watson for T magazine.