A Top Chef's Special Order at Home
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten runs a series of busy restaurants, so at his Manhattan home he seeks a space free of clutter and noise
When chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten returns to his West Village home in the wee hours after a long day overseeing his culinary kingdom, what he craves most is peace, quiet and order. So he nestles into a midcentury-modern Adrian Pearsall chaise longue that faces a midnight-blue panorama of the Hudson River and decompresses.
"I have to be near water," he says, "I get my energy from it when I sleep."
Everything in the 3,800-square-foot apartment—in one of three Richard Meier-designed steel-and-glass towers along the West Side Highway—is designed to please the eye and soothe the mind.
It is an elevator ride's commute to his restaurant, Perry St, which anchors the building and provides room service to neighboring condo owners.
A partner in the development, Mr. Vongerichten and his family moved into the building in 2004. When Hurricane Sandy flooded his restaurant with six feet of water in 2012, they decamped to the Mark Hotel uptown (home to another of his restaurants) and used their 2½ month absence to redecorate their condo and refurbish the restaurant. They had the apartment's merbau-wood floor re-sanded and stained darker to reduce reflection, and new furniture was ordered.
Visitors to the apartment step from elevator to foyer and into a long, teak-paneled hall that frames the apartment's river view. White walls are offset by furnishings in a muted palette of creams, grays and beiges.
Mr. Vongerichten worked with Danish architect Thomas Juul-Hansen, whom he befriended when the latter worked on interiors with Mr. Meier. Since then, Mr. Juul-Hansen and lighting designer Hervé Descottes have, in addition to the chef's apartment, designed six Vongerichten restaurants, including Jean-Georges, Nougatine and Perry St in Manhattan, and the Inn at Pound Ridge in Pound Ridge, N.Y. Five of Mr. Vongerichten's 23 restaurants are abroad, so he spends about one week a month traveling. He reserves entertaining for his country house in Waccabuc, N.Y.
The space was conceived as "a cube-within-a-cube," Mr. Vongerichten, 57 years old, explains, referring to its modular form nested within the crisp geometry of Mr. Meier's modernist tower. Its rooms hug the circumference of the apartment, with the hallway running through its center. Rooms can be partitioned off with pocket doors, or opened up.
To keep the look of the space as clean as possible, appliances, closets and cupboards are hidden. A television descends from the master bedroom ceiling panel with the touch of a button. Linen shades materialize in a similar fashion to cover the floor-to-ceiling windows and separate blackout shades, which offer an extra layer against the sounds of the highway below, can be summoned at night. In the kitchen, the dishwasher, microwave and television are behind smooth white panels, and even the stools are invisible in white-counter camouflage until in use.
The sliding walls and floor-to-ceiling windows make hanging pictures a near impossibility, so the focus is on furniture and materials. A round Midcentury marble dining table by Poul Kjaerholm seats six, but maple extension pieces enlarge its capacity to 12. In the living room, the solid walnut coffee table was hewed from a tree 1,000-plus years old, the chef says. Other select pieces include an Ondine chair by Vladimir Kagan, a small marble table and a bedroom love seat in beige Loro Piana cashmere.
Mr. Vongerichten says he is "crazy about lighting." White paper lamps by Hervé Descottes are blacked out on their back sides to eliminate glare marring night views of the river.
Mr. Vongerichten isn't a saver, he says. As a chef, what he creates is devoured and he moves on. Chloe and his wife, Marja, can move things around all day, but the family knows that order must be restored. When he comes home, the chef says with a smile, "everything is in its place."