Midweek Floor Plan Porn: 120 East End Avenue

LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $18,000,000
SIZE: 9,000 square feet, 6-8 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It’s a tad bit dull on the celebrity real estate front this morning so Your Mama thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and, thanks to our unofficial aide de camp Hot Chocolate, help the children get over hump day with some good, old-fashioned New York City real estate porn in the form of a vast, 9,000-ish square duplex maisonette with 6-8 bedrooms, 7 full and two half bathrooms and an $18,000,000 asking price.

A maisonette, for those not familiar with with the the variety or urban living spaces, is usually located on the ground floor of a multi-story building. It is not just however, just an ordinary ground level apartment. A maisonette, by definition, has direct and private access from the street. In addition to one or more service entrances, a maisonette typically but does not always have a secondary public access point through the building’s lobby or other common spaces. This is convenient so that on bitter winter days when Heidi Housekeeper goes to pick up the mail, flirt with the doorman or accept a delivery from Bergdorf’s or Dominos she need not go through the trouble to bundle up and make mad dash along on the sidewalk to the building’s main entrance.

Of course, there are those who think it’s unspeakably inelegant to live on the ground floor in a dirty and dangerous place like Manhattan even if it is a 9,000 square foot spread in an architecturally understated—even dour—and punishingly expensive limestone edifice (above) built in the early 1930s by Gilded Age heir and philanthropist Vincent Astor. Mister Astor long and famously occupied the top floor of the building with two of his three wives, first Mary and then Brooke who, of course, eventually became the undisputed dowager queen of uptown high society and moved on from 120 East End Avenue to her duplex residence at 778 Park Avenue with its six terraces, five fireplaces, four staff rooms, two dozen closets and internationally renown blood red lacquered library.

Anyhoo, while New York City hardly lacks for roomy apartments and titanic townhouses for the fortunate few who can afford them, it is fairly rare to find 9,000 or so square feet of living space that does not feel like an ill-conceived, frightfully cockamamie and utterly perplexing puzzle-like amalgamation of previous separate but contiguous units. New York is filled with those places. But 9,000 square feet of elegant and well-resolved residential space? Not so much.

The massive maisonette sits very and way too far east for some high-nosed folks but is none-the-less directly across from Carl Shurz Park, the location of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City that Mister Mayor Bloomberg declined to inhabit in favor of his townhouse. Both the street entrance and lobby entrance function in harmony and connect to a grandly scaled reception gallery with party-sized walk-in coat closet and and two nearby powder rooms, both separated from the common areas by a small, privacy enhancing antechamber.

The formal living room, about the size of a suburban tract house three car garage, has a wood-burning fireplace at the far end, simple but heavy duty moldings, a magnificent trio of park-facing floor-to-ceiling multi-paned windows outfitted with decorative security screens and a narrow-gauge chevron patterned hard wood floor that’s been—regrettably, in our humble and meaning opinion—bleached, stained or otherwise painted white.

The day-core in the living room, as throughout the mammoth maisonette, is eclectic to the point of being downright weird. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, puppies. Although we’re quite certain the better glossy shelter publications are beating down the door to photograph this place, we’ll take a dynamic and decoratively mystifying set up like this long before we’d go in for one of those behemoth proto-suburban beige-fests furnished with a ship load of heavy, carved wood furniture that looks like it came from someplace with the word “warehouse” in its name.

Across the reception gallery from the ballroom-sized living room, three steps flanked by turquoise-colored glass vases lead up to an almost as large room marked as the “library” on the floor plan. Howevuh, hunties, despite the built-in bookcases Your Mama does not spot a single book in the listing photograph. What the room does have is the same white chevron pattern hard wood floors as in the gallery and formal living room, a second wood burning fireplace, three more floor to ceiling park- and street-view windows also with decorative security screens and at least on piece of really good art.

The formal dining room, plenty big enough to host a well-attended holiday party, is accessed from the foyer down a wide, picture-lined corridor and through an the main stair hall with its sweeping spiral staircase that’s screaming to have someone dramatic swoon down it in a caftan and bejeweled princess heel slippers.

The stair hall’s day-core is predictably unpredictable and, well, a bit of a flummox. We feel sick over the white-painted wrought iron work that swoops up the partially carpeted staircase and Your Mama would, of course, pick up and remove that silly ewer set on the ground beneath the table. We also can not bear an overstuffed vase of yellow lilies. But, children, the steroidal sunburst mirror mixed and mashed with the three-legged round table, the Old-Timey cyrstal chandelier and that freaky bust of some Roman emperor atop the white veined black marble pedestal all kinda work for Your Mama in that can-be-terribly-chic, ugly-duckling-in-a-tiara sort of way. The bland walls, although probably hand troweled Venetian plaster, need some pizazz. The lifeless stair runner has gotta go and something needs to be done to better disguise or highlight the awkward door wedged under the stairs that leads directly—and conveniently—into the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen…

The very contemporary, open concept eat-in kitchen is, but for the daring and vivacious jewel-toned rainbow colors provided in juicy pops by an expansive collection of probably very expensive glassware. The are several windows in the kitchen but, alas, they face a narrow and probably quite dark channel between this and the neighboring building. The almost monochromatic sweep of space has snow white cabinetry topped with stone slab of unknown material, two work islands, two dishwashers, three sinks, one walk-in pantry/storage closet, and a double-wide industrial-style glass-fronted fridge/freezer that makes Your Mama’s knees turn to jelly with appliance envy.

The service and staff wing—located back behind the kitchen, natch—includes a rear staircase for easy access to the upper level bedrooms, a bedroom-sized laundry room with slop sink, compact—and windowless—bathroom and two rooms for live-in domestics, one very narrow, one unusually generous and neither with a proper closet according to the floor plan. Of course, so few rich people choose to live with their domestic staff anymore. Today’s super-rich are increasingly inclined—for obvious reasons—to put up their full-time help in and off-site location so this suite of rooms is quite likely and very comfortably utilized as a home gym, household office, meditation lounge, Pilates studio, etc.

In addition to a sitting room with fireplace and book laden book shelves(above, left) that connects through to the corner bedroom of the park-facing master suite, there are a total of six bedrooms upstairs, each with—we’re thrilled to report—direct access to a private bathroom. Iffin Your Mama and The Dr. Cooter were in the market for a 9,000 square foot maisonette on on the Upper East Side of Manhattan—and we are not and will never be—we’d probably opt to co-opt the sitting room for exclusive use of the master suite occupants and also to incorporate the middle bedroom—the one with the bay window—into the master suite to create a much more substantial bathroom/closet/dressing room complex.

That alteration would still leave a room and private park-facing guest bedroom with walk-in closet at the front of the apartment (above, right) plus two more decent-sized guest/family bedrooms at the rear. There’s also an itty-bitty bedroom off the tail end of the service entrance corridor that would very well work for a favored live-in domestic worker or might otherwise be pressed into use for a small child or house guests who do not sufficiently warrant over night occupation of the larger guest suite.

‘Tis a pity—at least as far as Your Mama is concerned—to pay nearly twenty million clams and not get a square foot of outdoor space but such are the brutal sacrifices even the wildly wealthy sometimes have to make for 9,000 square fee of deluxiocity in one of the more expensive if not exactly central neighborhoods of one of the biggest, baddest and most urban centers in the world.

For almost half the money we’d much prefer—say—this much smaller and less pricey but rigorously executed Anabelle Seldorf designed townhouse in the West Village that maintains its original architectural envelope from 1869 around a meticulously conceived and strikingly modern interior. But that’s just us…

exterior photo: Kate Leonova for Property Shark
interior listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby’s International Realty

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