An expansive New York loft receives a cosy touch from illustrious Manhattan design duo Ashe + Leandro.
Ariel Ashe and Reinaldo Leandro’s initial encounter was not particularly auspicious. Shortly after meeting in the offices of the Manhattan design firm Pierce Allen back in 2004, Leandro invited Ashe to a play starring Mary-Louise Parker. To his surprise, she turned him down. “I thought she was the cool girl in the office,” he recalls. “She thought I was asking her out on a date.” Not only are they now firm friends, but Ashe + Leandro is one of New York’s hottest design firms, with a project list that includes a Manhattan loft and a house in London’s Belsize Park for Coldplay’s lead guitarist, Jonny Buckland; a 1930s Los Angeles hunting lodge for actress Jennifer Carpenter; a TriBeCa residence for Naomi Watts; and a home for comedian (and Ashe’s brother-in-law) Seth Meyers. The owners of this NoHo loft — a recruitment agency founder and his fashion stylist wife — are themselves no strangers to celebrity; the four-bedroom apartment was bought from one of Picasso’s grandsons and they count Matt Damon among their neighbours. It is located on the top floor of what was a Renaissance-style warehouse, built in the late 19th century and transformed into apartments in the 1980s. While its location near the subway was handy for their eldest daughter’s school run, the space itself was equally attractive. “It’s very open, there’s lots of light and there’s exposed wood,” says the owner. “It felt like a place we could live in for a lot of years.” Another asset is undeniably its 110-square-metre roof terrace. When it came to choosing a design firm, the decision was easy. Ashe, a childhood friend of one half of the couple had actually introduced them. “She always had an amazing aesthetic,” the owner recalls. “What she and Reinaldo do really well is making homes. They’re not just beautiful spaces, they’re also extremely liveable.” Apart from a request for a kid-friendly loft, Ashe and Leandro were more or less given carte blanche. “They let us do what we wanted,” says Ashe, “although we were very much aware that his wife is a little bohemian.” Almost no structural work was required. ››
‹‹ The team simply added a few built-in closets and tweaked the kitchen, installing subway tiles, black slate and dark-grey cabinetry to complement the overall industrial vibe. The furnishings are very much in keeping with the designers’ style, which is a fusion of their different backgrounds. Leandro was brought up in Caracas, Venezuela, and is largely influenced by tropical Modernist architecture. Ashe hails from New Mexico, where her father runs a construction firm. “He used to have me tile bathrooms with my small hands and taught me how to drive a backhoe tractor around the age of six,” she says. Today, their work is best characterised by a strong interplay of textures, colour and a touch of the tribal (Moroccan rugs are particular favourites). The home is divided into two very distinct areas. The large, more formal front room is enlivened by a bright blue couch and yellow side table, counterbalanced by an otherwise subdued palette. “That’s generally what we do,” says Leandro. “We put in colour and then tone it down.” The family room at the back, meanwhile, is anchored by a large sectional sofa, which is upholstered in an outdoor fabric to make it stain-resistant, suitable for life with three young children. It’s not only the youngsters who get to have fun here. The owners themselves love to entertain in a multitude of ways. Last year, they held a political fundraiser attended by Hillary Clinton, and they have hosted a dinner for 40 on the roof terrace to celebrate the launch of a friend’s fashion line. Their best celebration, however, was a more intimate gathering of 15 at their engagement party. Among the happy few was their matchmaker, Ashe. “I owe her so much,” admits the owner. “She not only designed our home. She also helped me build a family and fill it with love.”