Tour the Elegant New York Home of an Acclaimed Hotelier

As owner of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida—an iconic, and now buzzy, 1940s property that was meticulously restored in recent years—Sarah Wetenhall spends plenty of time in palm-shaded gardens, pastel-hued verandas, and rattan-furnished salons. So, when she began renovating her apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the furthest thing from her mind was a tropical pink-and-green milieu. And yet, one feature of the home calls to mind a breezy resort: a 2,000-square-foot private terrace that brims with climbing hydrangeas and rhododendron trees, where Wetenhall hosts playdates, game nights, and cocktail parties.

“It’s an amazing experience for New York City, to be inside and outside at the same time,” Wetenhall says. “We feel so grateful to have this space.” Indoors, however, the atmosphere is decidedly urban and firmly planted in uptown Manhattan, what with its carefully calibrated combination of antique, vintage, and custom pieces—and a palette that’s both strong and sober. “I believe in embracing where you are,” says the businesswoman and mother of three. “As I go from New York to Palm Beach, I change, my wardrobe changes, and certain aspects of myself [change] too.”

When she and her husband bought the corner unit abutting their apartment to create a more spacious home for their growing family, they hired Janine Carendi MacMurray of Area Interior Design to oversee a top-to-bottom renovation. One of MacMurray’s first goals—aside from coming up with a functional layout—was to make the property’s relatively low ceilings seem loftier. “When I walked into the apartment, I felt like the ceiling was coming down at you,” says the designer, who founded her studio in 2006. “I chose cove moldings with long projections, and I made the doors higher.” Indeed, the renovated home has a sense of airy openness, not to mention 5,000 square feet of living space.

To decorate it, MacMurray worked in close collaboration with Wetenhall, who has a keen eye for design. “The apartment should be about the person living there,” MacMurray says. “And when somebody is as fabulous as Sarah, it makes the job really easy.” The duo influenced each other in different ways; Wetenhall pushed MacMurray to use more color, and MacMurray helped her client tailor the space to New York. In the living room, for example, we see the contrast of deep reds and corals in the embroidered drapes and pale blues in the slim-line custom sofa. A vintage Kalmar glass chandelier and a Lucite coffee table add a diaphanous touch of glamour. “In almost every room in the house, you have some form of lighting from Kalmar or Murano,” the designer says, referring to the famed Viennese and Venetian houses. “I love the idea of collecting.”

Another thread that runs through the home is the use of textured wallpapers and wood panels, seen in Wetenhall’s oak-lined office and in the library, which was completely painted in a striking shade of cobalt blue. “When we got the project, the space felt very dark,” MacMurray says. “And now, it’s a very happy home.”

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