Around the time Brooke Shields turned 16, she and her mother/manager Teri bought a townhouse on the Upper East Side.
“It was quiet and it was luxurious because we had the space in New York. We had a backyard. It was such a privileged and safe way to grow up in the middle of Manhattan,” said Ms. Shields, 57, who has starred in TV series and on Broadway since her days as a child model, actor and professional Calvin Klein jeans enthusiast. musicals, written books, designed jewelry, founded a digital platform The beginning is now and appeared in a number of films. (Her latest, “Holiday Harmony,” comes out this week on HBO Max.)
But circumstances and bank balances change, and as the years went by, “I needed to simplify my assets, so to speak,” Ms. Shields said.
“As I got older, I didn’t work as much and I had to make some decisions. I ended up getting married and my husband just hated New York,” she continued with the link Andre Agassi, tennis star. “He talked me into selling the house and the day I had to give it up was so sad because of all the Thanksgivings in that house and all the memories.”
Brooke Shields, 57
Endless Love: “All the things I loved about living in an Upper East Side townhouse is what my family experienced here. We have all these traditions that my daughters have really gotten into and are a source of comfort for them.”
Ms. Shields moved, divorced, remarried, bought a downtown loft with her new husband Chris Henchy, a screenwriter and producer, and had two daughters, Rowan, now 19, and Grier, 16.
But at last the soil began to feel a firm grip, and the search for the brownstone began.
“It was a dream for me because I wanted my children to have what I had with my house on the Upper East Side: to have a sense of neighborhood and to have a space that is so hard to come by and so expensive. in New York,” Ms. Shields said. “We looked everywhere, but one place was more depressing than the other.
Finally, a real estate agent directed Ms. Shields’ attention to an early 20th-century Greek Revival building in the West Village that had been converted from a single-family home to an eight-unit apartment building.
She was instantly excited. “It was broken and really destroyed, but it was like I could see the whole thing in the future,” she said. “I called my husband, who was in LA — this was before you could record entire videos on your phone — and I said, ‘I know you’re not here to see this, but I just have this crazy feeling.’
They bought it, closed the deal in early 2008, and hired MADE, a Brooklyn design and construction firm, to do a gut renovation. Entering the pair for the house was simple: Put it back the way it was. As much as possible, they wanted to remove what was there, restore it and put it back in place.
“We tried to keep as many floors and stairs as possible,” Ms Shields said. “The corner of the coffin was huge for me, because it was original to the house.’
Everything, it seemed, was a candidate for rehabilitation. When the basement was excavated, several massive rocks were dug up, “and we put them in the backyard as stools,” Ms. Shields said. The coal bunker was salvaged and turned into a wine cabinet from an old ship – a 10th anniversary gift from Mrs Shields to Mr Henchy. In some cases, things were salvaged from elsewhere: The stone fireplace mantel in the living room was salvaged from the Plaza Hotel when it was renovated in 2008.
Ms. Shields wanted the decor to evoke a London townhouse. She and Mr Henchy turned to their friend David Flint Wood, a British designer, for help. He nudged them toward a mix of furniture, materials, and periods: hand-blocked Zuber wallpaper, Asian porcelain, neoclassical Italian tables. Jute and lucite are also represented.
The collaboration resulted in spaces that are elegant yet warm, mixing elegant with whimsical. In the living room, Louis XVI armchairs and a French Empire chest of drawers coexist with small framed pictures of rabbits, portraits of Mrs. Shields’ daughters with sugar crowns and a heart by Keith Haring, a gift from the artist.
“I don’t want to be stern or serious,” Ms. Shields said.
And he is definitely not into fettling his property. “I grew up saving up and then when I wanted to wear something, it was either out of style or it didn’t fit,” Ms Shields said. “So now my attitude is, ‘What am I waiting for?’
Stemmed crystal glasses on open shelves in the corner of the kitchen? He drinks from it. The decanter she successfully bid on during an auction at Chatsworth House, one of England’s most stately homes? He pours whiskey from it (admittedly good whiskey).
She opened the crockery drawer and pulled out a handful of silver coins gathered from various sources. “I love the fact,” she said, “that I can sit down and use something that’s been in someone’s house forever.”
Because Ms. Shields grew up surrounded by unpacked boxes — “My mother never moved anywhere” — she originally intended, she said, “to have this house completely Done.”
But she retreated from such finality. “I get new things and I find new things,” she said. Right now, she’s fiddling with the barware arrangement in the living room—it includes a silver cup that her grandfather, Frank Shields, an amateur tennis star in the 1920s and 1930s, won in a tournament. And given the recent arrival of a shipment of Murano glasses, the spoils of a family trip to Italy, he’s rethinking the look of the dining room sideboard table. Ms. Shields is also considering an addition to the side table that holds her growing collection of crystal punches.
“I’m going to Oklahoma soon and I bet there are some great places for antiques,” she said. “What I need? Nothing. But I have attackers. Now I’d like to find a candle snuffer.’
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