In one of the greatest works of American short fiction, an unnamed woman with an unnamed illness spends a summer confined to the upstairs room of a dreary mansion at the instruction of her husband, a doctor. After weeks of isolation, with nothing to look at or speak to other than the wall in front of her, she descends into madness.
They called it “female hysteria.” We call it cabin fever. Regardless of what you call it, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is, among other things, a harrowing insight into what last year might have been like if we didn’t have screens on which to glue our eyes.
It’s difficult to say how much more sitting and staring we’re in for in the coming months, and while Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s protagonist may have been stuck with “one of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin,” New York City’s luxury market has plenty of homes with far less nauseating interior decor, including some lovely ones in Lenox Hill.
When you’ve exhausted your streaming options and need something pretty on which to settle your gaze, these five homes for sale now in the Upper East Side neighborhood, curated by our Select Spaces team, offer opulent confines in which to spend the next lockdown.
820 Fifth Avenue | 6 BR | $39 million
You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? A “Royale with Cheese.” You know what they call wood paneling? “Boiseries.” If you like yours flown in from Europe, you’ll dig this listing on 820 Fifth Avenue.
If these walls could talk, they would say, “Je ne sais quoi.” Louis XV and XVI marble mantles are just one glimmer of French stateliness throughout this private floor in one of the most expensive buildings on Fifth Avenue.
Where blank walls demand decoration, the swirling ornamentations and archways of this co-op can stand elegantly alone. They frame the oversize mirrors of the gallery and punctuate the candle sconces lining each room.
Recessed bookcases flank the entryway to the study, leading out to a hallway of saturated yellow (painted, don’t worry) that invites all manner of adornment.
For ominous wallpaper, wander into the formal dining room wrapped in a Stanley Kubrick-esque pattern not dissimilar from a previously featured unit in the Dakota, another historic gem of NYC luxury living.
710 Park Avenue | 4 BR | $4.8 million
Sometimes, a little is just enough — like the floral, not-quite-yellow wallpaper throughout the entryway, or the delicate patterned accent wall in one of the bedrooms. What the entertaining space may lack in custom broiseries it makes up for with the tiled mirrored wall, also seen in the dining room.
Despite being mostly-white, the walls of this Park Avenue apartment are anything but bland. Built-in shelving on either side of the living room mirror welcome rare books, cascading plants and all manner of quirky tchotchkes to quietly showcase your personality. The glass-paneled display cabinets can hold fine china, family heirlooms, travel souvenirs and other topics of dinner table conversation.
Tired of fading into the background at your own parties? Sick of sitting on the couch with nobody but your reflection staring back at you? Take a tip from this longtime wallflower and head out to the patio for a smoke. Leaning up against a wall not speaking to anyone looks way cooler when it’s exposed brick.
Greenery and green screens
127 East 62nd Street | 4 BR | $13.5 million
We’ve salivated over the smooth white marble of en suites, counter tops and foyer floors. But if you’ve ever scrolled through an LA influencer’s Instagram wishing you could live inside a flat lay, the place you’re looking for is 127 East 62nd Street.
With interiors seemingly lifted straight from the Glossier design playbook, this six-story townhouse is a haven of mid-2010s-era elegance. South-facing and sun-drenched to the heavens, the entire apartment is a photo opportunity promising an abundance of content with which to populate your socials.
The main living area has a floor-to-ceiling slab of Calacatta marble on one side, a millennial-pink accent on the other and a dreamy chandelier dangling between them. The chic recessed fireplace adds visual interest without disturbing the sleek lines and planes that make the space feel like it could go on forever.
And it does — the open concept, atypical of an uptown abode, is versatile in its uses. Sliding glass doors between the kitchen and living room punctuate the otherwise uninterrupted space. Whether you’re showing art, shooting video or just shooting the breeze with company, there’s plenty of radiantly heated floor space to wander.
Wallflowers might have a difficult time disappearing into the veined marble, but can find solace with the floor-to-ceiling bookcases of one of the home’s upper levels — conveniently leading to the ivy-lined outdoor space.
The most offbeat thing about this apartment, however, has to be the living green wall, tucked away on the second floor. Tendrils of hydroponically fed flora photosynthesize through skylights. They say talking to plants helps them grow, so if you’re not much of a people-person, consider engaging with the pothos on the finer points of public policy. I’ve heard they can be quite opinionated.
11 East 68th Street | 5 BR | $35 million
The thing about being alone is you’re never really alone. Yellow Wallpaper Lady had the woman she found trapped behind the “smouldering unclean” monstrosity. Oasis’ Liam Gallagher had what he described as the imaginary friend who comes to save you from yourself. If you’d thrown out all hope of ever finding your wonderwall, then today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you.
Anyway, here’s 11 East 68th Street.
By now, you should have somehow realized what you’ve got to do, which is befriend the knight in shining armor guarding the glossy, grainy wooden entryway to the kitchen. He’s shy until you get a couple drinks in him, so fix him something strong at the backlit bar.
I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about African Saint Laurent marble. Solid black with delicate streaks of white, it stretches throughout the entertaining areas of this space, which are flooded with light. But if it does start to feel too dark, a wrap-around terrace is right outside.
A sculptural staircase connects the floors of this prewar triplex of the Marquand Condominium — which, by the way, has never been on the market. Other wondrous walls in this penthouse include the Japanese lacquer maple wood in the dressing rooms.
Someone asked if the book-matched marble slabs of the master bathroom were supposed to look like a Rorschach test. I said, “Maybe.”
110 East 78th Street | 5 BR | $17 million
If you want to see the ocean from your house, there’s an abundance of beachfront properties Miami and L.A. with huge windows that offer exactly that. For those seeking a more, shall we say, immersive experience, there’s 110 East 78th Street.
Monet’s Water Lilies pale literally and figuratively in comparison to the deep blue mural surrounding the formal dining room of this four-story townhouse. Enjoy the view with your dinner, just try not to get sea-sick. And if you do, press your cheek against the cool, white marble of the luxurious bathroom walls.
An abstract splatter of dark blue and yellow in one of the rooms is artfully overlaid by grid-like wainscoting — excuse me, broiserie. The same pattern serves as the accent wall of one of the media rooms. Add in the mirrored gallery with its fluted plaster walls, and you have yourself a feast for screen-fatigued eyes. If you get lonely, then just rip off the wallpaper in one of the bedrooms and see if you can find a friend.