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McKim, Mead, White and Webb

by habituallychic

02 . 16 . 09

I’ve said it a million times but the best part of starting my blog has been all the wonderful people that I’ve met and Matthew White and Frank Webb of White Webb have been two of the nicest! I met Frank Webb at the Kips Bay Showhouse last year and he was nice enough to email me more photos of their fabulous room (see last photo). Since then, I’ve corresponded with Matthew who recently invited me to dinner at his breathtaking apartment and it was a real treat!

There is a great back story to explain first. Prior to interior design, Matthew had been a dancer and Frank had been a banker but that all changed when they met each other in the elevator of the building they had both moved into. And not just any building. Matthew and Frank live in a landmark Italianate McKim, Mead and White building that was constructed in 1898 for James Hampden Robb and Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. It was later bought by the Advertising Club in 1923 who used it as a meeting space and in 1977 it was converted to apartments.

As you can then imagine, the building is full of wonderful and original architectural details. Matthew and his cute little daschund Holden stand in front of the original mantle in what was would have been the parlor of the mansion. There were bookshelves on either side that had been added later but Matthew removed them and had the missing paneling recreated. The Parthenon tables are just one of the beautiful products made by White Webb.

There are so many wonderful details in the room but not so much that it’s too much unlike another person who lives in the building. It’s interesting to see the difference in how they decorated their spaces.

A little bar is tucked into a corner near the window and under the lower ceiling created by the mezzanine above.

Also downstairs, is the dining room that feels as if you are dining in Italy. You have to look at the before and after photos on the White Webb website (say that three times fast!). It had a much different look before and Matthew added wonderful details including hidden drawers and shelves under and behind the statue. I didn’t take any photos of the evening since sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy a lovely evening without getting out the camera and Matthew told me there were photos on New York Social Diary that I could post. He was one of the most gracious hosts I have ever met and just so sweet. Also at the dinner were Frank, of course, interior designer Tori Golub, whose work I knew but I had never met her so that was a treat. Also at the dinner were custom upholsterer/drapery designer Michael Tavano and his partner in life and work, Lloyd Marks.

I love that a little dog bed is tucked into every room. Holden is a very pampered pooch! And I really cute one too!

The stairs up to the mezzanine reminded me of wooden tabletop models of stairs that Bill Blass collected. I didn’t even ask how they got the piano up there because I can only imagine that it was quite a process. Originally, this area was built out with bookshelves which Matthew removed. The carved molding was missing and he had pieces carved to match the rest of the room. The attention to detail was amazing but then again, I would expect nothing less from Matthew or Frank!

Books are now housed upstairs in the library on the wall across from the sofa. Since I was there at night, the room glowed warm from the lamps but it also looks wonderful here in daylight.

The master bedroom was fit for a king or Maharaja! It was so beautiful and the fabric on the bed that I thought must have been purchased in India was actually from Schumacher!

The painting is of an Indian nobleman and adds to the glamour of the room. It was such a treat not only to be invited to dinner but to be able to tour Matthew’s stunning home. Walking up the stairs made me feel like I was in a real home and not a New York apartment. I asked Matthew if he would stay there forever and he replied, like all decorators with a finished home, that he was itching to do another one so I might be posting his new home in a few years!

I don’t remember exactly how it happened but after the fateful meeting in the elevator of their building, Matthew and Frank became friends and partners in their design business. Their style always seems to suit the environment of the space or home and can be classic and traditional or modern and fun. Kind of like their homes! While Matthew’s space takes it’s cues from the classical architectural details and is more traditional, Frank’s apartment is more modern and clean but also full of wonderful details.

The colors in the living room were very soothing but full of interest. I loved how the turquoise-y blue accent color runs through the entire apartment.
I’m not sure if you can get a sense of the size of the Italian chandelier but it was quite large and very beautiful in person. The apartment runs along the whole front of the building and is very open and spacious.

In this shot of the living room, you can just see the kitchen in the right corner.

I am not even sure if I can explain what a luxury it is to have an eat in kitchen this large in New York City! I’m very jealous!

One of my favorite areas was the guestroom. It also glowed at night and was so beautiful!

The office is a chic little Milo Baughman desk tucked into the guestroom. There are so many more photos of each apartment online and you should definitely check them out!

The master bedroom is a great mix of patterns and pops of color and is also very large for a New York bedroom.

The little lucite table is vintage if I remember correctly but White Webb has a line of clear acrylic tables in addition to a charming collection called Intaglio which are graphic and also a Venetian Silver collection.

Frank also has a dressing room that would make any woman swoon! I’m so glad that their room at the Kips Bay Showhouse last year was able to bring us together. I really enjoyed the evening. The dinner was delicious and the conversation was sparkling. I think that McKim, Mead and White would and even the previous owners would be happy to see how well their beautiful building is being taken care of and I can’t think of anyone more perfect to live there than the team of White Webb!

Photos by Jeffrey Hirsch for New York Social Diary

Comments Closed

  1. The Antiques Diva™ February 17, 2009 | 9:11 am

    The parlor is amazing! I love the green velvet – it has such a library feel!
    The Diva

  2. Jill February 17, 2009 | 2:18 pm

    Lately I haven’t been inspired by anyone’s work. But, this is all truly exceptional. Beautiful post…and a heartfelt Thank You!

  3. Motor City Jeanne February 17, 2009 | 2:32 pm

    Both places are fantastic! While I love the historic opulence of Matthew’s apartment, I am partial to Franks. That turquoise color is my favorite, combined with the neutrals.

    Also, I love the blue combined with the Tiger print in Matthew’s master bedroom. Very striking.

    Thanks for posting these inspiring photos!

  4. ArchitectDesign February 17, 2009 | 5:11 pm

    Umm -wow -I really can’t decide which one I like more! LOL

  5. CashmereLibrarian February 17, 2009 | 5:55 pm

    Thank you for an amazing tour! Dinner sounds incredible, surrounded by these talented people.

  6. The Bean February 17, 2009 | 6:43 pm

    What an amazing place. I like the dachshund too.

  7. Anonymous February 17, 2009 | 8:24 pm

    What a fabulous post! Don’t know where to begin – each photo, the writing and the links are splendid. Can’t wait to visit Michael Tavano’s showroom – his website looks rather intriguing. The photo of Matthew in front of his mantle looks like something The Sartorialist would have taken – great setting & smile.

    Ok, so what scrumptious food did you have – please do tell.

    – KBN

  8. cherry February 18, 2009 | 10:39 am

    looks absolutely beautiful.

  9. Amica February 18, 2009 | 8:20 pm

    Their apartment is absolutely stunning. I love the drama of the first room, and the green they chose glows! Unusual in that type of style. Mmmmm.
    Thanks for posting!

  10. pve design February 18, 2009 | 9:02 pm

    Stunning, eccentric, yet all very livable.