The Grand Tour

A Designer Combined Neighboring West Village Apartments to Create the Haven of Her Dreams

An entire studio apartment was transformed into the primary suite
The living room is a peaceful sanctum where Venetian plaster walls provide a fitting backdrop to a green velvet Magari...
The living room is a peaceful sanctum where Venetian plaster walls provide a fitting backdrop to a green velvet Magari Sofa by Dmitriy & Co and Who Are You III bouclé lounge chairs by Olga Engel, sourced through Galerie Armel Soyer. Tarnished brass Squiggle sconces by Studio Giancarlo Valle enhance the pared-back shell.

As an interior designer, Leigh Kirby Klein is respectful of her clients’ personal space. Unless, of course, that client happens to be her husband. “I’ve never worked with a tougher client,” laughs the AD PRO Directory designer, for whom the line between designer and wife was blurred a few years ago when the couple purchased a home—well, technically two—in a newly built residential building in the West Village.

For Leigh, it was an agreement with compromise. “I love older buildings, whereas my husband doesn’t. It seemed like we couldn’t agree on anything,” recalls the principal of New York City–based interior design practice Weatherleigh Interiors. The one thing they did see eye to eye on was the price. With the combined cost of apartments being less than an actual two-bedroom alternative, it was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up. Still, combining a studio and a one-bedroom with a public hallway in between was easier said than done. It meant buying part of the hallway and designing a new front entry—and ensuring both apartments presented like a cohesive whole. Then, there was the problem of the flooring. The hallway had slate, and the apartments, white oak planks. “We searched everywhere to find flooring that matched the existing white oak, to no avail. Fortunately, the building contractors had a small pile left over that was just the right amount to finish off the new foyer,” she shares.

There was no such thing as an entryway in the couple’s previous apartments. “You would basically just walk into our kitchen or a hallway with minimal closet storage. Now, we’re spoiled to have a proper entry where we can walk in, sit, and take off our shoes,” muses Leigh of the apartment, built by New York City–based Construct Brooklyn. A Raku Yaki ceramic sconce serves as the focal point of the area, casting haloes of soft and soothing light. The pivoting walnut console is from Paloma’s Yume range.

Of course, there were other challenges as well—the lighting in particular was case in point. Many pieces had been ordered from overseas, or from around the States, but they were so architecturally unique that finding bulbs that fit proved next to impossible. “Our poor electrician had to scour the city to find options that would fit and also be compatible with dimmers,” Leigh recounts. One iron floor lamp, shipped in from Paris, was entirely rusted on arrival, likely due to contact with seawater. The vendor ended up shipping a new one, but “having already waited six or seven months, plus three more for the new one to arrive, everything just ended up being very, very delayed.”

The dining room is located between the living room and kitchen, and echoes the latter in signature. A nebulous concrete dining table by Bicci De’ Medici takes center stage, crowned by a clay Harvest vase from Mugly. Walnut wood stools by Veermakers line the kitchen island to the right.

Despite the challenges, there was a clear vision for the home. “I wanted the condo to be a sanctuary from the busy streets of New York, like a hotel or art gallery that we could lose ourselves in,” reflects the designer, who sourced the furniture, lighting, and art from Belgium, France, Australia, and most everywhere in between. Sourcing considered pieces was something she was passionate about. Her husband? Not so much. “He is very pragmatic and concerned with function, and lacks any sort of vision when it comes to design,” she chuckles. “He would have been happy to walk into RH and buy an entire floor’s worth of merchandise. Don’t get me wrong; I love RH, but copying a catalog, product for product, would certainly have put a damper on my creativity!”

Since the couple purchased two units, there were two sets of washer and dryers. “We felt that was unnecessary, so we decided to replace one with a wet bar and wine storage,” says Leigh. The cabinetry is stained a matte black, and the countertops are a honed Amazonia marble sourced from BAS Stone.

There’s a European slant to the interior design, with glimmers of wabi-sabi and Japandi styles peeping through here and there. “I took a minimalist approach and put together a design language that I think is seen more frequently in Europe than in the States,” observes Leigh. She used the white oak flooring as her starting point, and kept adding from there. All the while, she exercised restraint with decor, choosing to highlight the bedroom and bathroom walls with Venetian plaster and Moroccan plaster (Tadelakt).

The primary bedroom occupies the entirety of what was once the studio. “For context, it is double the size of our first apartment,” says Leigh. “We were able to carve out a little sitting-slash-reading nook and an office alcove, and still squeeze in a king-size bed. A major win by city standards!” A Yoko bed by Sarah Ellison from Design Within Reach sits front and center, overarched by a Rheo No. 5 artwork by Colt Seager from Stahl + Band.

Whether in the mood for a snack or a snooze, the lounge area in the primary bedroom provides the perfect setting. OTI seats by HIJA Studio, sourced from The Loft, take pride of place, while a trifecta of Trapeze wall sconces by Apparatus punctuate the wall above.

At roughly 800 square feet, the primary suite is a minor miracle by New York City standards. “We managed to fit a king-size bed, a sitting area, and a small office alcove, in addition to a full-size en suite bathroom,” shares Leigh, who achieved what she did by absorbing every last square inch of what was once the studio (the kitchen that once stood there was removed and replaced with a 14-foot-long wall of cabinetry that allowed for ample storage).

The apartment finally feels like home for Leigh, her husband, and their eight-year-old golden retriever, Walter. It may not be the historic home she had once hoped for, but with so much character to go around, it’s probably even better.

Originally, the studio apartment (now the primary suite) had a small single vanity bathroom, which the couple jokingly insist would have led to the demise of their marriage. They completely gutted the space and enlarged it to include his and hers vanities with terrazzo countertops. A skinny band of brass demarcates the Cipollino Verde marble wainscoting from the plaster walls above.

Cipollino Verde marble envelops the lower half of the shower area. “The undulating pattern is the most striking I’ve ever seen. It instantly captures the eye,” avers Leigh.