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Making Room for 30 Years of Art & Antiques in a Chelsea Co-op

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Welcome to House Calls, a recurring feature in which Curbed tours New Yorkers' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line.


[All photos by Max Touhey.]

Two years ago, Paul Tarantola finally got word that his name came up for a one-bedroom apartment in one of Penn South's affordable co-op buildings. Without hesitation, he left his small Chelsea studio, also in the development, behind for the larger 20th-floor apartment with a southward-facing balcony that he would share with his husband. Although the apartment's not large by many standards, the extra space finally allowed Tarantola to purge his storage unit and display the art and antiquities he has been collecting since his high school days.

All of five seconds spent in the pad is enough to know that Tarantola is very much a collector of things; things that he found in his travels, things he's eyed in different stores when working as a freelance interior designer, and pieces of art made by friends. Although there's a lot to look at in the apartment, everything has a story. (That is, except for the sofa. It is, he deigns, from Crate & Barrel.)

Tarantola says he's been attracted to Asian art and furniture for most of his life. It's something he's always felt comfortable with and likes to be surrounded by because, he says, he finds the culture to be "beautiful." And surround himself with it he has. The massive oriental daybed in the apartment's living room is hard to miss. Tarantola says he picked it up in Hong Kong about ten years ago, when a former student—Tarantola teaches pottery about once a week—invited him on vacation. A galloping stone horse that dates back about 2,000 years and is perched alongside the daybed is another find from his Hong Kong trip. Yet another horse statue resting on the coffee table was a wedding gift from his parents, and an heirloom he remembers from growing up in Seattle. Other than a basic, nostalgic attachment to that statue, Tarantola says he doesn't have a thing for horses. That's just how his decorating in that room shook out.

That laissez-faire approach to design, where Tarantola simply surrounds himself with what he likes, means he's ended up with an apartment full of midcentury flea market scores alongside Asian furnishings as well as fixtures like a stained glass lamp and a large decorative mirror bartered for design services. For Tarantola, it doesn't matter where something comes from, just that it is attractive to him; and with that mentality, Tarantola's spun a small white box with parquet floors into a true home.


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