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Inside the Upper West Side apartment of composer Jonathan Sheffer

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Sheffer worked with a designer who made the apartment luxurious, but also representative of his identity

Mikkel Vang for Elle Decor

Composer Jonathan Sheffer moved to the Upper West Side in September 2016, somewhat begrudgingly, following a split with his partner that ended with the sale of his Greenwich Village townhouse. “I had invested a huge amount of my identity in that house, in owning on that block, in that neighborhood, and it was incredibly painful to have to leave it,” Sheffer told Elle Decor.

Recreating a space imbued with identity can be hard. But Sheffer got to do it in a second floor apartment at The Apthorp, the early 20th-century apartment building bounded by West 78th and West 79th streets, Broadway, and West End Avenue. The building has been home to many-a cultural icon before he moved in—Sheffer is both conductor and a composer of musical scores—like Nora Ephron, Catch 22 author Joseph Heller, and legendary choreographer George Ballanchine.

That history lends the residences of The Apthorp a sense of gravitas, one that comes out in the treatment of Sheffer’s home through its restored moldings and sumptuous fabrics.

For the renovation, Sheffer tapped interior designer and friend Robert Couturier, who Elle Decor describes as having “a knack for helping clients balance luxury with a deeper sense of authenticity and personal identity.”

Shefferd and Couturier drew on their mutual love for the Musée Nissim de Camondo, described by Elle Decor as the “former home of an early-20th-century Turkish-Jewish financier who had collected a peerless assemblage of 18th-century furnishings in an intimate setting.”

Under the repaired plaster work of the corner living room sits a grand piano and bookshelves brimming with works by the likes of Proust and Thomas Mann, and busts of Bach and Verdi. Sheffer likens the master suite to the “best London hotel room ever.” The kitchen and dinging room aesthetic is both inviting and surprisingly contemporary (owing to a large Jack Pierson photograph hanging over the dining room.)

Says Couturier of the design, “We made a place where [Jonathan] could feel like himself.”

For more photos, head on over to Elle Decor, or pick up a copy of their November issue.

Apthorp Building

390 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023