Tour a mid-century apartment with a ping pong table

Entrance: Designer Edward Wormley camouflaged the lobby’s six doors with walnut planks in the 1960s. He made the console too.
Photo: Jason Schmidt

The advertisement for the apartment stated, “It appeared in Beautiful houseSarah Meister recalls this post-war three-bedroom building in a Richard Roth-designed Upper East Side building.

This was in late 2013, and she and her husband Adam Meester bought it anyway from the original owner’s niece. It turns out that the article published in the August 1967 issue of Beautiful house He was praising the way designer Edward Wormley had described the walnut planks to camouflage the six doors that crowd the entry foyer and to modify the L-shaped living and dining area – the two “problematic” features of the apartment. He also designed everything: bookshelves, cabinets, and woodworking panels.

“I think when everyone saw the apartment, they thought, Ewww, bring out all that dark wood,She says. “And I said to myself, Do not do anything.

Of course, parents ended up doing a few things. “There was 50-year-old carpeting from wall to wall over the original parquet,” she says. They painted the floors a teal, opened up the kitchen, removed two sections that had interrupted the living room and dining space, but left the rest of Wormley’s woodwork intact: “When we moved, in fact, all we did was wipe them with Pledge!”

Wormley distinguished himself as one of the country’s leading modernists, although he may not have been as well known as his mid-century contemporaries. He grew up in Oswego, Illinois, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and spent a brief stint as an interior designer at Marshall Fields before being hired by the Dunbar Furniture Company in 1931. He served as design director for decades and also worked for a small interior company on the side.

Panels set the tone for Meister’s interiors, and the rooms are furnished with a mix of pieces: a Jonathan Adler sofa, finds from eBay and 1stDibs, and the original Wormley console in the entrance hall, along with a Wormley tête-à-tête sofa – still in production by Dunbar – In the living room.

Living room: The tête-à-tête sofa by the window is a Wormley piece still in production. The armchairs behind are vintage Wormley with new upholstery. The two narrow “walls” are panels where Wormley sections once stood to break up the room’s L-shaped form, which the Meisters removed for light and space.
Photo: Jason Schmidt

Ping pong table above the dining table: “Whenever I go out, we eat them,” Sarah Meister says. “If it were just the two of us, we’d eat at the breakfast bar.”
Photo: Jason Schmidt

Kitchen: It was the 1960s when they moved in. They pulled down a wall and made a breakfast bar.
Photo: Jason Schmidt

The couple have two teens, which explains the ping pong surface above the dining table. “We were trying to think of ways to make the apartment fun for the kids,” says Meister. “I’m pretty sure it was my husband’s idea.”

Meister, who spent more than 25 years as curator in the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, is now executive director of Aperture (where she created the Aperture Photo Book Club.) The apartment is filled with gorgeous photographs, including a John Szarkowski quartet that the Meisters bought together. To celebrate the first anniversary and “a photo of the stars who seem to shine even after they’re gone, given to me by my colleagues as I left MoMA,” in the entrance hall.

Living room: Furnishings from the former Meisters apartment include the Jonathan Adler sofa, which is now re-upholstered. Final tables from eBay. “My favorite eBay purchase was this coffee table,” says Meister. “We wanted something long, and I’m pretty sure this is the Italian fifties.”
Photo: Jason Schmidt

bookshelves: They are Wormley design.
Photo: Jason Schmidt

Built-in bar: It’s vintage and sandy.
Photo: Jason Schmidt

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