The Real Deal New York

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After a lengthy–and ongoing–renovation, MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts and husband feel at home in Hell’s Kitchen
By Zachary Kussin | January 08, 2014 12:02PM

Thomas Roberts asks tough questions in his job as an award-winning newsman—and the “MSNBC Live” anchor was just as demanding when looking for a home.

Roberts and husband Patrick Abner had a long list: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, double sinks in the master bath and outdoor space were among their priorities. Fortunately, they were able to check all the boxes when they saw the digs on West 47th Street near 10th Avenue. “When you have those things that you’re looking for, then it really kind of narrows what you can actually get,” Abner said.

Among the attractions were the apartment’s two terraces. The larger, which measures 300 square feet and opens up to the building’s courtyard, was the setting for their wedding party last fall.

Adding to the appeal was the Hell’s Kitchen location, not far from their previous apartment in Midtown West, and a convenient distance to Roberts’ Rockefeller Center studio. The short distance to work will come in handy as Roberts moves up the ranks at MSNBC, hosting the network’s “Way Too Early” program at 5:30 a.m. weekday mornings, starting this month.

“I don’t like long commutes,” he said. “I just walk to work.”

Two years after buying the apartment for $1.15 million, and with roughly $50,000 invested in renovations, the couple and their two dogs are—for the most part—settled. The quiet space in the back of the building felt welcoming when they returned from a busy trip to Moscow this fall, where Roberts co-hosted the Miss Universe pageant and did some network reporting.

“We do feel like we’re a bit removed from things when we can shut the doors and close the blinds,” Abner said. “It’s important for New York, because the city can be quite overwhelming sometimes, so you need a place where you can feel like you’re getting away from it all.”

The haven took some time to evolve, as the couple’s first try at making the former model unit their own didn’t satisfy. The apartment’s walls, now boasting blue, grey and black hues, were initially coated in beiges. Roberts called it a “muddy” palate.

“I think you have to make some mistakes first, and we did,” said Abner, who works as a community liaison for Merck Pharmaceuticals in its HIV division. But the process was worth the effort. “We’ve been able to put our own stamp on it.”

The most recent projects involved installing a Carrera marble-topped custom island and new lighting for the kitchen; finishing the dining room and wallpapering the living room ceiling—an idea they said seemed a little strange at first, but it grounded the space.

And the work continues. The to-do list includes searching for the “perfect piece” for the space above the sofa (to replace one they say they love, but doesn’t fit right) and changes to the second bathroom.

“It takes some time, and that’s all right,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Abner, who have been together for 13 years, previously owned homes in Los Angeles and Atlanta—but those had very different looks.

“We gravitate toward older buildings,” Abner said. “But in New York your priorities change a little bit.”

“Our goal was mainly to hide dog hair,” Roberts joked.