One renowned resident of Gracie Square—a cluster of neo-Gothic, circa 1929 buildings facing Gracie Mansion, the New York mayoral residence—was composer Irving Berlin. He reputedly penned his famous musical Annie Get Your Gun in this graciously proportioned apartment situated in a building designed by famed architect Rosario Candela and co-architect William Lawrence Bottomley. Indeed, when it was purchased by a fortysomething Philippines-born couple with three young girls, it still boasted stained glass doorway transoms with musical themes that Berlin most likely commissioned. But the interiors seemed dark and stuffy. Fortuitously, through friends, the couple met designer Celerie Kemble and her associate, Heidi Bianco.
“I liked Celerie and Heidi because they were so easy to talk to,” the wife says. “Celerie also has three kids, and I wanted a person who knew how to decorate and furnish a home that is beautiful and functional at the same time. I wanted most of the walls childproofed so they were okay to be touched by little fingers with chocolate crumbs.” What Kemble and Bianco did, in fact, was not unlike reinterpreting a beloved musical score. “The client wanted more femininity and spunk while also incorporating modern pops,” explains Kemble, “so we had to carefully measure where to use that aesthetic so as not to become incongruous with the traditional lines of the space.”
Interior Design - Celerie Kemble and Heidi Bianco, Kemble Interiors
Home Builder - Andrew Galdau and John Carley, Empire City Construction