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That being said, even a prime piece of Art Deco glamour can be subtly improved, though, as Shamamian points out, “It didn’t feel appropriate to stray too far from what was there.” The soul-stirring flying staircase’s strangely plain railing—“not very Deco,” says project architect Tom McManus—was removed in favor of a lacy iron creation incorporating motifs harvested from the building’s metalwork. A small anteroom adjacent to the entrance hall, where the coat closet is located, had its doorway expanded into a wide elegant arch—bringing more sunlight into the entry from a west-facing window. The dining room’s soaring pilasters got a chic speckled finish that mimics porphyry, and the paneled study’s vaulted ceiling has been piped with a crisscrossing pattern in molded plaster that references the passion for Tudor and Jacobean design that ran on a parallel track during the days of Deco. “We loved that, too, but wanted to make it lacier and more open, to employ the fewest amount of lines that would still suggest the 17th century,” says Smith, who also upgraded the rooms with handsome custom-made marble chimneypieces.

When it came to furnishing the penthouse, though, a period atmosphere was not the goal. “It was about taking grandly proportioned spaces and making them comfortable, habitable, and interesting,” Smith explains, adding that the apartment had always been “a series of public spaces for entertaining and private spaces for relaxing.” Knitting together those two disparate camps involved the development of decors loose enough so that all spaces would feel inviting. Thus, the dining room features not only a 19th-century English mahogany table for meals, unexpectedly combined with metal chairs dressed in blue leather, but also a sofa, daybed, deep-dish armchairs, and bronze bookshelves laden with well-thumbed volumes and intriguing objects, all overlooked by a wall-spanning Walton Ford painting of a camel under attack by birds of prey. “Sure, it’s a big apartment,” the decorator says, “but it’s not big enough to have a room that’s used only a couple of times a week. Every space had to be flexible.” Which explains why an exceptionally large room that takes up much of the upper floor and which offers panoramic views of the East River and Long Island serves as a spare bedroom as well as a family room.

Smith’s aesthetic has always been pretty limber, so a mixture of styles, materials, periods, and provenances happily coexist here, wrapped within an envelope that is largely classical in concept though not particularly classical in its layout.

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