This Uptown Manhattan update offered a city design guru a fresh canvas
by James Tate photos by Joshua McHugh
The Upper East Side apartment of Caryn Schacht was designed in 1904 on a grand scale, thoughtfully created to provide its original artist residents ample room for work and inspiration. Located in the area’s noted Studio Building, 20-foot ceilings, loftily beamed and gilt with gold leaf, give the living space a cathedral-like air, while oversized windows, dramatically accented by custom floor-to-ceiling curtains, flood the interior with sunlight.
When Schacht and her husband came upon the apartment six years ago, they knew immediately that it was a perfect opportunity to create an elegant, modern home that honored the structure’s traditional design—and would be a functional, contemporary space where their family could live, work, and entertain.
Schacht, president of New York custom furniture and accessory showroom Lorin Marsh, was well matched to the task of updating the apartment (at the time, the residence had not been renovated in more than thirty years).
“The original kitchen was there, as well as the original library and dining room,” Schacht said, adding that she knew right away that she had an ideal collaborator for the project in friend and client Michael Rosenberg, principal of the design firm Michael Rosenberg & Associates. “We’ve known each other for probably 30 years,” Schacht continued. “We have similar tastes and just bounce ideas off each other. He has his expertise in places where I don’t; it made for a really great collaboration.”
The changes Schacht and Rosenberg brought to the renovation were considerable.
“We added walls and took down walls,” said Schacht. “We added a third bathroom and a guest room upstairs, and a live-in kitchen and family room combination that wasn’t there…things I knew we would need to suit our lifestyle.”
Schacht made her first foray into the design industry after deciding against a career in the film business while completing college. Lorin Marsh, founded in 1975 by Schacht’s mother Lorraine Schacht and partner Sherry Mandell, opened a door that offered the younger Schacht an opportunity to flex her natural creativity, and which ultimately led her to take over the company in her mother’s footsteps.
“Sherry was my mother’s partner from the beginning, and is still with me in the business,” she said. “At first I decided to stay on and learn every aspect of the operation, my favorites being sourcing and design and simply being creative, but certainly, I became involved in every other aspect of the work. Time went by and I realized that I had a passion for making beautiful things, and here I still am.”
From the Lorin Marsh showroom in the striking Decoration & Design Building in Midtown Manhattan, Schacht maintains the firm’s New York roots while growing the business in a field that has evolved much in the 42 years since its launch. When Lorraine Schacht and Mandell began, Schacht said, “[my mother] was an interior designer and noticed that there was almost no place to buy accessories to finish her jobs. At that time there were no showrooms that only sold accessories, and that’s how it got started. There was a huge void in the industry, which now has changed so much, of course, but there were really no other people who were doing what they did.” With numerous retailers having popularized a more design-minded style in home furnishing in recent years, “there are today more [client] crossovers than there were before, undoubtedly. A lot of the mid-level companies are doing a good job at mass-producing styles, but never does it have the same quality that we have.”
Relationships with artisans across the world, built by the Schachts and Mandell as they sourced their pieces, continue to bear fruit for Lorin Marsh. “They traveled everyplace from India to Thailand to China and Japan… to Sweden and all over Europe,” Schacht said. “We have, all these years later, many of the same relationships. We still do business with a lot of the people they originally met.”
Schacht’s individual style, naturally accompanied by many of her favorite pieces from Lorin Marsh, helped to fill the renovated apartment with the new owners’ sensibilities.
“It’s a transitional, eclectic style,” Schacht said of the finished home. “It’s a mix of textures, warm tones, and comfortable upholstery. We really live in our home, we really use it. It’s more contemporary than traditional, but because the bones of the apartment were traditional, I felt a need to give a nod to that.”
For example, rather than eliminating the commanding, dark-wood doorways that extend from floor to the ceiling, careful reproductions were made so that the aesthetic would be consistent. “They were reproduced in the exact style,” said Schacht. “And some are original. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”
Furnishing the living room in ways that complement its outsized scale but also invite relaxation and comfort was a pleasant challenge for Schacht and Rosenberg, and the result is Schacht’s favorite room in the home.
“We have 20-foot ceilings here, and it’s still comfortable,” she said.”[The furniture] is a collection of things that I had either found while traveling or are my own furniture from Lorin Marsh…pieces that I loved the most and that I wanted to live with.”
The living room, and the residence more broadly, intertwines vintage and contemporary in high style, while remaining eminently liveable. “It’s not the kind of place you feel awkward in,” said Schacht. “You can let your hair down. You can really live in it.”
Michael Rosenberg & Associates
65 West 55th Street, Manhattan / 212.757.7272