Architectural Digest has long been a fan of architect and Yale A-school dean Robert A.M. Stern. In its latest issue, AD keeps it in the family with the story of how Nicholas and Courtney Stern, the architect's contractor son and interior designer daughter-in-law, reconfigured and revamped a Greek Revival building in Greenwich Village they bought in 2002, shortly before they were married. Initially, the Sterns refurbished the garden and parlor floors for their own use while renting out the top two levels, but after the birth of their first child, they enlisted Robert. A.M. Stern Architects to turn the structure into a single-family home, with Randy Correll as project architect.
Robert A.M. Stern describes working for your own son as "nervous-making," because "you're not just building a house, you're making a home for family." Structural work included restoring some walls, excavating the cellar area to make it tall enough for a rec room and laundry, and resituating the rear facade a few feet out to make room for a kitchen expansion. Part of the parlor (↑) was taken out and turned into the top half of a double-height sitting room.
A Vik Muniz diptych looks over the double-height sitting room (←), which opens out onto the Sterns' garden (→). The team tried to respect historical features without creating a period home, which inevitably means knowing when to do away with less desirable ones. "Words cannot describe the insanity of renovating an old house like this," says Nicholas. "There was an undercurrent in every conversation: If it's old, we must save it!" At one point, after a chunk of ceiling fell down, he asked his father if they really had to preserve the moldings. "No. They're horrible. Get rid of them," he recalls the elder Stern responding, which proved "liberating for us—we decided we could do something that was sympathetic to the original structure and also attuned to our family."
In the master bedroom (↑), hand-painted Gracie wallpaper is paired with a minimalist mantle. Head to AD for more details and a few before photos.