After living for more than 14 years in traditional apartments on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Sandy Chilewich realized it was time to move. She had spent 10 years in a three-bedroom in a prewar building with her husband and business partner, Joe Sultan, and another four in a rental of a similar vintage. The problem was that Chilewich is known for the modern, clean lines of the home products she designs, and the classic spaces contradicted her contemporary style. "As beautiful as these apartments were, they didn't support my design aesthetic, and it was time to find a home that would," she says.
Chilewich has built her business, Chilewich/Sultan, on woven vinyl, which she turns into home accent pieces such as runners, bathmats, rugs, and placemats. Her products are sold at MoMA stores and at other outlets, including hip housewares shops, Neiman Marcus, and Crate and Barrel. Chilewich also sells wall coverings to the trade and designs custom placemats for upscale hotels such as Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton properties.
And now her home is a suitable canvas for her work. She and Sultan bought their modern, minimalist 1,500-square-foot apartment in a newly constructed building in mid-2007 and tailored it to their taste with the help of Ken Foreman, an interior designer and close friend. There are distinct Chilewich touches throughout the rooms, such as the bright-orange area rug in the entryway, the chocolate-brown wall in the apartment's half bath, and the placemats adorning the tables -- all made of her signature material. These products are mixed with contemporary furnishings: a light fixture by Frank Gehry for Vitra, a dining table by Cappellini, leather chairs by Divani.
"I show my designs without overdoing it, and I have the opportunity to express the biggest part of my aesthetic," Chilewich says. "If you ask me what I love most about this home, that would be it."
"Filling the apartment with my products would have been overkill.
I don't want people to walk in and have it be obvious that Sandy Chilewich lives here."
"We wanted the bed to have some definition. So Joe had the idea to paint a headboard on the wall. It looks like a piece of furniture but adds no bulk."
"We're on the 22nd floor, and the balcony is enclosed in glass, so it makes me feel unprotected to be out there. I appreciate it more from the inside, by opening the door."
"This is the room we gravitate to when it comes to working and unwinding, since our television and laptop are in here. But it also turns into a third bedroom when our older son comes home from college."
"Everything was a very conscious decision. The big reason we bought the apartment was to show our products in a residential setting. We wanted a showcase, but not a show room."
"The light is beyond belief in there. The ceiling height and the sunlight combined give grandeur to the space that the square footage doesn't."
"Like a lot of Manhattan apartments, this one doesn't have a lot of storage, so we invested in a storage area in the basement. We're down there at least once a week."
"This is the only room in the apartment where we have more storage than we need. We eat breakfast and dinner in here every day but only cook around 50 percent of the time."