Kelly Behun Hits All the Right Notes in Manhattan’s Tallest New Skyscraper

·3-min read
Photo credit: Nicole Franzen
Photo credit: Nicole Franzen

Kelly Behun could not help but think of music. The ELLE DECOR A-List designer was given the opportunity to design an apartment at New York’s 111 West 57th Street and found herself drawn to the history of the site’s original occupant, Steinway Hall, a concert space intended to showcase the sound of the piano-maker’s instruments.

Today, the Manhattan address is topped by a new 1,428-foot-tall tower designed by SHoP Architects—the second tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. With a sense of the building’s history, Behun created the interiors for a 4,900-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom apartment known as 34 Tower Residence on the 34th floor.

“I’ve listened to so much music that it feels part of the creative process. And that’s a nice link to Steinway, with its rich history of music,” Behun says. “When a room comes together, it starts to vibrate and hum. Not only does it visually resonate, but it’s like you hear it and feel it in your heart.”

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen
Photo credit: Nicole Franzen

In some cases, Behun made that inspiration literal, as with the kitchen’s custom cabinetry finished in hand-burnished plaster and gray oak, which together resemble years-long wear of ivory piano keys. In other cases, the musical nods are more subtle, like the guest bedroom’s hand-painted wallcovering, which has an energy that Behun compares to jazz. (The building’s lobby and interior architecture, designed by Studio Sofield, feature guitar strings on the wall and black lacquered doors that mimic a piano.)

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen
Photo credit: Nicole Franzen

Behun, who is known for her bold furniture design as well as her own houses, also took cues from the apartment’s dramatic views. For instance, Behun worked with the 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and the expansive vista directly over Central Park to design the great room. A hand-knotted Tibetan silk rug from Doris Leslie Blau draws in the green from the views of the park. An arched mirror was installed on a wall to echo the decorative tops of the surrounding buildings. Behun’s favorite piece? The custom ceiling pendant.

Photo credit: Colin Miller
Photo credit: Colin Miller

Her favorite spot however, is a small glazed nook off of the dining area, which includes a custom banquette covered in a mohair fabric, a custom table, and a collection of sculptural chairs. Behun brought in a vintage yellow chair and ottoman by Olivier Mourgue to provide a space to sit back and take in the views.

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen
Photo credit: Nicole Franzen

“So often we feel kind of relegated to the kitchen when we’re eating,” Behun explains. “The views are just so spectacular, why not also have a moment here that feels very modern?”

Whether it’s music or the views, ultimately, the apartment is meant for a family who is at home in the city. “It’s for somebody who loves New York,” Behun says of the residence. “This feels like a very ‘I love New York’ kind of apartment.”

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