Second Life

Filled with a heady mix of antique and contemporary furnishings and art, this newly renovated Plaza Towers dwelling by STEVE MCKENZIE perfectly reflects its new owner

INSPIRED BY HIS CLIENT’S EXQUISITE collection of antiques, interior designer Steve McKenzie made them the centerpiece of her new apartment in the iconic Plaza Towers, which he completely redesigned in an extensive renovation. “It was fun to create a home for someone who has a storied past through objects they love,” he says. “The design is traditional with a sophisticated, almost international feel.”

McKenzie was particularly excited about her colorful framed emperor and empress paintings, which he placed over a Lucite bench with a green mohair seat in the living room. A mustard velvet sofa and a pair of antique armchairs reupholstered with needlepoint crewel work complete the elegant yet cozy grouping. “The fabric is exquisite,” he says. “It pulls you into the room.”

The designer created another strong focal point by reconfiguring the primary bedroom suite. Visible from the living room, its new entrance leads through the closet, terminating at a niche that houses an antique commode underneath a vibrant 1930s-era painting. A mirrored candelabra chandelier adds a touch of modernity. “The dialogue between contemporary and older elements creates a spark of energy,” he explains.

Indeed, McKenzie had many of his client’s antiques reupholstered—for example, the sofa and side chair in the primary bedroom, which is rendered in a soft blue palette accented with striped silk drapery. “It freshens them up and makes them feel more current,” he says.

The palette flows into the ensuite bathroom, its walls covered in a light blue silk that coordinates with the light blue-gray cabinetry and marble flooring. Flanked by contemporary brass and glass sconces, an antique mirror adds the sort of collected milieu that the homeowner so appreciates.

The blend of classic and contemporary influences also defines the renovated kitchen, where an antique wooden breakfront cabinet juxtaposes the contemporary gray cabinetry, white stone countertops and marble tile backsplash. Formerly enclosed, the space is now open to the dining area. There, a light green wallcovering with a delicate metallic thread creates a subtle yet impactful backdrop for a burled wood table surrounded by Chinoiserie chairs. “It’s very subtle, but in the evening, it picks up the sparkle of the gold,” says the designer.

The effortless blend of old and new thrills the client, who enjoys her new life there, often painting in the third bedroom-turned-art studio. McKenzie, who also lives in the building, has been to several of her cocktail parties and is equally pleased with the result. “We showcased the beautiful antiques and art, and yet it’s not stuffy,” he says. “It’s a real reflection of the client, which makes me very happy.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Steve McKenzie, McKenzie Design, (404) 618-0422;
REMODELER Bires Remodeling, (404) 226-1841;