From west elm creative director, Vanessa Holden:
Some of our favorite design projects involve working with families. New families expanding, older families downsizing, college students in dorms or recent graduates just starting out (or moving back in).
That’s why we were so excited to work with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the First Family of New York City, and the Gracie Mansion Conservancy as the First Family embarks on their exciting move transitioning from a Park Slope row house to one of the most iconic homes in our city and the official residence of the Mayor of New York, Gracie Mansion. Built in 1799 overlooking the East River, Gracie Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home is rich in history and design details, and while the public spaces of Gracie Mansion will remain unchanged, the family’s private rooms needed some thoughtful and purposeful consideration to make the residence comfortable for a modern family.
“Gracie Mansion will always be the People’s House, but Bill, Chiara, Dante, and I are excited to call it home. With assistance from West Elm, we are honoring and preserving one of the nation’s great historic residences, while turning Gracie into a modern living space that fits our family. We’ve moved to a new borough, but we brought some Brooklyn flavor with us.” — First Lady Chirlane McCray
The First Family’s move represents many of the same challenges all families are faced with – and some that are uniquely special (for one, as is well documented, the entire family is VERY tall). The family has two teenagers — son Dante is living at home full time and daughter Chiara is home often from college — a shared study for the Mayor and First Lady, common areas shared by the entire family as well as a more formal sitting room for visitors.
We paired First Lady Chirlane McCray with our lead Home Stylist in our Chelsea store, Johanna Mele, an expert in larger residence and mixed use design, to partner on the project. At our first meeting, the First Lady clearly laid out her priorities for the spaces. She wanted to maintain and highlight the integrity of the residence, while providing functionality for her family. She wanted rooms that reflected her children’s specific and individual styles, and a home that reflected their personal style as a family — approachable, livable, with a base of calming neutrals and accents of rich colors, natural and global influences.
“Gracie Mansion is an amazing home and the First Family will be able to bring their style to the space. There is so much history here that has inspired the design direction we took. We’re honored and excited to be working on the project.” — West Elm Home Stylist Johanna Mele
We’re thrilled that our furniture and accessories will be donated to the Gracie Conservancy that will assist the de Blasio family to establish their new home and will remain in the historic residence for future First Families to use.
We’ll be sharing more photos + descriptions from the Gracie Mansion project on Front+Main!
West Elm’s complimentary Home Stylist program is a service available from all of our 59 locations. Home Stylists work with homeowners + renters to understand their design needs and help them to express their personal style + create a beautiful + functional home. For more information or to make an appointment at a store near you, visit our Design Lab.