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Interior Case Study> West Side Town House
O'Neill Rose Architects create a bespoke residence in New York that transitions from traditional to modern.
The lower floors of this renovated townhouse are more traditional, while the upper floors are more contemporary, culminating in a sleek penthouse family room.
Michael Moran

West Side Town House
New York City
O’Neill Rose Architects

Located behind a landmarked Victorian facade on the Upper West Side, this modern home is a careful study in line and proportion, which subtly transitions from an abstracted traditional language to sleek contemporary as you move from the parlor to the penthouse. Designed by Brooklyn-based O’Neill Rose Architects, this townhouse was completely reconstructed from several apartments into a large five-floor house, with a garden rental apartment below.

The architects looked at historic townhouses for inspiration for details and materials, including herringbone floors, and handsome marble mantels for the working fireplaces. They worked closely with the builders and craftsmen to make sure every detail was well made and respectful of the house’s proportions.


The hand plastered ceiling and the underside of the staircase exemplify this bespoke approach. “I worked with [the contractors] for three or four weeks drawing the line of the staircase on the wall, they would build it up, and then we’d make adjustments,” said firm principal Devin O’Neill. “It was satisfying to work at that level and make it just right.” The result is a sinuous staircase that winds through the space like a piece of sculpture.


Above the parlor floor, the design language is slightly more abstract. The focal point of that level is a roomy open kitchen, which extends out to a spacious terrace. Large ceramic tiles made to look like limestone extend out onto the terrace. “The terrace and the kitchen are meant to be a continuous living space,” said O’Neill. Custom white cabinets and textured cream-colored ceramic backsplashes from Heath Ceramics create an inviting but serene environment, which encourages views out through the expansive windows. Midcentury furnishings from Carl Hansen are mixed with contemporary pieces for a spare but fresh look.

The following two floors are private family quarters, with a master suite on the third level, and four kids rooms on the fourth. Tucked behind the mansard roof is a sleek penthouse family room with a monumental, 14-foot-wide-by-7½-foot-wide glass wall from Rochester Glass that opens onto another small terrace. “We really wanted to open the house out, to connect with views of the city,” said O’Neill.

Alan G. Brake