Real Estate

How Brooke Shields Created a London-Style Home in the West Village

Around the time Brooke Shields celebrated her sixteenth birthday, she and her mom/supervisor, Teri, purchased a townhouse on the Upper East Side.

“It was quiet, and it was luxurious, in that we had space in New York. We had a backyard. It was such a privileged and safe way to grow up in the middle of Manhattan,” stated Ms. Shields, 57, who, since her days as a youngster mannequin, actor {and professional} Calvin Klein denims fanatic, has starred in tv collection and Broadway musicals, written books, designed jewellery, based the digital platform Beginning is Now and appeared in a variety of motion pictures. (Her newest, “Holiday Harmony,” can be launched this week on HBO Max.)

But circumstances and financial institution balances change, and as the years glided by, “I needed to simplify my assets, so to speak,” Ms. Shields stated.

“As I got older, I wasn’t working as much and had some decisions to make. I ended up getting married, and my husband just hated New York,” she continued, referring to Andre Agassi, the 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.”



Occupation: Actor

Endless love: “All the things I loved about living in the townhouse on the Upper East Side are what my family has experienced here. We have all these traditions that my daughters really hook into and that are a source of comfort to them.”


Ms. Shields relocated, divorced, remarried, purchased a loft downtown together with her new husband, Chris Henchy, a screenwriter and producer, and had two daughters, Rowan, now 19, and Grier, 16.

But ultimately, the loft began to really feel like a tight squeeze, and the search was on for a brownstone.

“This had been a dream for me because I wanted my kids to have what I had had with my house on the Upper East Side: to have a feeling of neighborhood, and to have the space which is so hard to come by and so expensive in New York,” Ms. Shields stated. “We looked everywhere, but one place was more depressing than the next.”

Finally, a actual property agent directed Ms. Shields’s consideration to an early Twentieth-century Greek Revival constructing in the West Village that had been transformed from a single-family residence into an eight-unit condominium home.

She was instantly smitten. “It had been broken up and was really destroyed, but it was as if I could see the whole thing in the future,” she stated. “I called my husband, who was in L.A. — this was before you could do full videos on your phone — and I said, ‘I know you’re not here to see it, but I just have this crazy feeling.’”

They purchased it, closing on the deal in early 2008, and employed MADE, a Brooklyn-based design/build agency, to do a intestine renovation. The couple’s transient for the home was easy: Put it again the means it was. To the extent doable, they wished to take out what was there, restore it and set it again in place.

“We tried to keep as much of the floors and the stairs as we could,” Ms. Shields stated. “The coffin corner was huge for me, because it was original to the house.”

Everything, it appeared, was a candidate for rehabilitation. When the basement was dug out, a number of huge rocks had been excavated, “and we put them in the backyard as stools,” Ms. Shields stated. The coal bunker was saved and repurposed to carry a wine closet from an previous ship — Ms. Shields’s tenth anniversary current to Mr. Henchy. In some situations, issues had been salvaged from elsewhere: The stone fire mantel in the lounge was rescued from the Plaza Hotel when it was renovated in 2008.

Ms. Shields wished the décor to evoke a London townhouse. For assist, she and Mr. Henchy turned to their buddy David Flint Wood, a British designer. He nudged them towards a mixture of furnishings, supplies and intervals: hand-blocked Zuber wallpaper, Asian porcelain, neo-Classical Italian tables. Jute and Lucite are additionally represented.

The collaboration yielded areas which can be stylish however heat, that blend the elegant with the whimsical. In the lounge, Louis XVI-style armchairs and a French Empire commode coexist with small framed footage of rabbits, portraits of Ms. Shields’s daughters carrying sweet crowns and a coronary heart portray by Keith Haring, a reward from the artist.

“I’m not into being austere or serious,” Ms. Shields stated.

And she is most undoubtedly not into fetishizing her possessions. “I grew up saving things, and then by the time I wanted to wear something, it was either out of style or didn’t fit,” Ms. Shields stated. “So now my attitude is, ‘What am I waiting for?’”

The crystal stemware on open cabinets in a nook of the kitchen? She drinks from it. The decanter she efficiently bid on throughout an public sale at Chatsworth House, certainly one of England’s stateliest properties? She pours whiskey from it (admittedly, good whiskey).

She pulled open a utensil drawer and yanked out a handful of sterling silverware gathered from various sources. “I love the fact,” she stated, “that I can sit down and use something that was in someone’s house forever.”

Because Ms. Shields grew up amid unpacked containers — “My mother never finished moving in anywhere” — she was initially intent, she stated, “on having this house completely done.”

But she has backed off from such finality. “I get new things, and I find new things,” she stated. Right now, she is noodling with the association of the barware in the lounge — it contains a sterling silver cup that her grandfather, Frank Shields, an novice tennis star of the Twenties and 30s, gained at a event. And bearing in mind the current arrival of a cargo of Murano glasses, the spoils of a household journey to Italy, she is rethinking the tablescape on the eating room sideboard. Ms. Shields can be considering an addition to the facet desk that holds her rising assortment of crystal match strikers.

“I’m going to Oklahoma soon, and I bet there are some great little antiques places there,” she stated. “What do I need? Nothing. But I’ve got the match strikers. Now I’d love to find a sterling candle snuffer.”

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