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A Bachelor’s Place

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Scott O’Conner’s apartment may be a work in progress, but the wait will be worth it

As one of the early investors in a new condo on St. Charles Avenue, Scott O’Conner had a bit of a free rein in his choice of layout, view, even the kitchen

bachelor3.jpgLike the attorney, who commutes a mere four blocks, the kitchen looks sleek, the appliances are state of the art and the sensibility is distinctly masculine.

However, the kitchen—a combination of wood, stainless steel, granite and halogen lights in various graphic shapes—could easily overwhelm the rest of the apartment.

O’Conner knows what he wants and he knew it was time to call in the pros. Soon John Chrestia and Denise Bezou Pierce, of Chrestia, Staub and Pierce, arrived with tape measures, color wheels and notebooks and went to work.

They are still at work. “There was a little thing called Hurricane Interruptus,” said Chrestia, “and much of the furniture was designed for the space and made by various artisans and artists, some in Alexandria, some near New Iberia, some from New Orleans. Wow, you could almost call your story ‘Made in Louisiana.’

“As a client, he has been very easy to work with. He was familiar with our firm’s design sensibility. His taste runs to mid-century chic, and he has an emerging art collection and the eye of one who is well traveled. He’s involved but he is also very busy with his own practice.”

The designers first pulled together a space plan beginning with furniture placement for maximum flow. The master bedroom is solidly off to one side, and the second bedroom, a future media room, can be sealed off from the living, dining and kitchen areas via double pocket doors.

Then they brought in a large array of visuals—taking in mind the client’s existing and growing art collection—fabrics and furniture ideas.

To keep the kitchen from dominating—the laundry room was already converted into a wet bar, wine cellar and pantry—the kitchen’s side entrance was enclosed, creating a small but proper foyer.

bachelor4.jpgThe living room’s floor-to-ceiling window faces west with a breathtaking view and an equally breathtaking amount of afternoon light. To cool the setting down a bit, the room was painted the warm gray of a foggy sunset. Shades, sheers and a long wall of tone-on-tone natural and pebble linen, by Great Plains, create one great wall when closed and reveal a balcony when open.
Near the window, a Donghia banquette covered in elephant-gray stripped Manuel Canovas velvet anchors the living room space. Over it is hung a bold and colorful work on metal that O’Connor found at Arthur Rogers Gallery. To its right in its own special place is a newly acquired spirit totem from Santa Fe that slithers sensually toward the apartment’s high ceilings, which are edged in double crown molding.

The banquette sits on a tone-on-tone carpet and is centered with a custom-made coffee table, created of three wheels of gunmetal steel topped by an inch-thick piece of plate glass, which took about two months to complete. The table is flanked by two very mid-50s upholstered tub chairs covered in a marigold-and-olive chenille and two African-inspired heavy wood stools made of dark oak that has been cerused, over painted in a lighter color then wiped into the grain of the wood and wiped clean. They match a solid, stark dining/conference table that is the exact width of the painting above it by Jim Richard, another Arthur Rogers artist and a professor at UNO.

In the media room stands the first of the new pieces of furniture created for the space.

The blonde wood cabinet may have a French Moderne sensibility, but according to Chrestia, it was born yesterday in an upstate wood smith’s studio. Next will come bookcases and a new sofa, coffee table and— yes—a plasma TV. On the floor, waiting to be hung are three small red paintings with somewhat Buddhist symbolism from David Harouni’s gallery.
They and other paintings and sculptures wait for the precise place to be shown in the best light and the best setting. They wait, as does this lawyer, whose patience will be rewarded with a splendid, understated apartment where the quality of the furniture, fabrics and design teamwork match the strength of his art collection and the brilliance of the sun as it sets in the west.