Out and About: 2 decorating styles worlds apart

(Flickr photo by Hennie Schaper)

The difference décor can make in an apartment is not always as graphic as in two co-ops that I visited on West End Avenue in the high 80s.

Although the one-bedroom units are in the same line separated merely by a number of floors, they present themselves as whole worlds apart.

The one that happens to be on the higher floor gripped me with its appeal.  The one on the lower floor repelled me, yet it wanted virtually nothing.

Sleek, spare and also inviting, the higher apartment was not decorated exactly to my taste.  But it drew me in with comfortable furniture that didn’t overwhelm the rooms.  The galley kitchen boasts Corian countertops and solid-wood cabinets.  There are a vintage bath and unusually copious closets.

What the units share is southern exposures, sunken living rooms with corner windows, more than 900 square feet and ample space for dining.  Of course, the far better views, which are open, exist in the co-op on the higher floor.

On the lower floor, the modern kitchen with laminate countertops has been opened up as a pass-through into the living room, and the bath has been modestly improved.

But that apartment is a sonata in white — walls, furniture (including wooden items), window treatments, lamps — in a fussy style evocative of English country style.  It made me want to remove my shoes and find a lacy white parasol to carry.

Both of the co-ops were priced originally to reflect only the difference in floor level, the lower one at $869,000 with maintenance per month of $1,138, then to $824,000.  It soon thereafter went under contract.

As for the higher unit, it was listed at $935,000 prior to a $14,000 increase in March, with maintenance of $1,438.  After a reduction to $919,000 a couple of weeks ago, perhaps it will find a buyer.

The original prices struck me as greedily high, yet the 1937 doorman building somehow commands such levels.  

  • In the low 100s on a Riverside Park block, a memorable one-bedroom apartment in which character and charm border on eccentricity.  This 1,028-sf bright co-op on the third floor of an 1890 townhouse retains a load of original woodwork; gas-burning and decorative fireplaces, large dated kitchen with Bosch dishwasher and butcher-block countertops that doubles as hallway between the living room and bedroom; bay windows; washer/dryer; and strangely renovated bath with office or walk-in closet beyond.  The unit’s chief liability is the need to usher visitors in personally from the building’s entrance downstairs.  Although the reduced asking price of $699,000 with monthly maintenance of $959 was fair, the listing expired last week without a sale. 
  • A handsome condo on Central Park West in the low 60s.  With three bedrooms, two vintage baths and a decent galley kitchen that has older appliances, the apartment on a lower floor provides partially open southern exposures and courtyard views north.  There are a numerous closets, sunken living room, washer/dryer, walnut parquet flooring in excellent condition and a feeling of spaciousness.  Any buyer likely would want to undertake at least cosmetic improvement, including removal of the so-called temporary wall that bifurcates the third bedroom to create a dining room.  In particularly well-situated, white-glove, landmarked 1931 building, the 1,698-sf condo has a new asking price that is not absurd — $2.895 million, cut this month from $2.975 million, with common charges of $2,302 and taxes of $1,133 per month.  By combining the unit with the adjacent one, a 2,628-sf home could be fashioned with four bedrooms, a maid’s room and five and a half baths.  Price for both: $5.42 million. 
  • On Riverside Drive in the mid 90s, an unrenovated and cramped one-bedroom condo overlooking a schoolyard in a pre-war building that contains unconverted rental units.  Enough said!  A contract fell out at the original and enduring asking price since February of $565,000 with total monthly costs of $837.  Naturally, the listing has expired.
  • A winning one-bedroom co-op just west of West End Avenue in the mid 70s.  This corner apartment — which can be combined with the  less appealing adjacent unit for a total offering price of $1.15 million — offers a nice open kitchen, a generous amount of closet space, well proportioned rooms, and good light from the south and west.  In a 1927 permissive building with fitness room but no doorman, the 685-sf co-op is offered for a reasonable $549,000, especially after its reduction from $575,000, with maintenance per month of $1,309.  
  • In the mid 80s on a corner of Broadway, a 575-sf junior one-bedroom apartment that once was an alcove studio.  The condop’s chief assets are its considerable closet space and its presence in a well-situated 1989 building loaded with amenities from garage to fitness center.  But the unit faces a broad courtyard, the floors are scuffed, and the bath and the kitchen with its laminate countertops are original.  It didn’t sell — and shouldn’t have sold — at $630,000, but the new asking price of $600,000 with steep monthly costs totaling $1,227 should prove to be a successful lure.

Tomorrow: Whose best interest?

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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