Bone Structure

Midsouth March 2006

Written by C. Richard Cotton

Photographed by John Hall

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It’s all about “bone structure.” That, and the space itself.

Space is at a premium in many of the world’s cities, and New York is no exception. Finding the right living space is a preoccupation for many of the city’s millions of residents.

But when it happens, it is like a plan coming together.

Bill Eubanks knows that feeling. The renowned interior designer found just the right space a dozen years ago on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side.

“It was an absolutely blank canvas with great bone structure,” remarks Eubanks, founder of William R. Eubanks Interior Design In. and Memphis native. The firm maintains offices in New York, Palm Beach and Memphis; the Florida location also features a showroom.

Bone structure describes the elements of the second-story, 1,000-square-foot apartment. Called a “through-floor” in Manhattan parlance, the townhouse apartment comprises a living room on the north side of the building connected by a hall to the bedroom on the opposite side.

A small Pullman kitchen offers bare-bones cooking opportunity: “We have served 70 people buffet dinners many times out of that kitchen,” Eubanks relates, adding that it’s a tight squeeze for that many people to entertain at one time.

With myriad projects in New York, Eubanks finds himself there six to eight days a month. He wanted a place to call home and a place compatible with his tastes. After all, Eubanks is known for designing spaces according to his clients’ tastes, so creating his own space was truly a labor of love.

“I wanted something comfortable to be in while I am there, something that suits my interests,” Eubanks explains. His personal taste runs toward the furnishings and artwork produced primarily in Europe in the 17th through 19th centuries. The space would complement that just fine.

To begin with, the apartment’s 10 1/2-foot-tall ceilings were the first component of great bone structure. Pairs of nearly ceiling-height windows on opposite sides of the building were the next important component.

Oak parquet floors - original to the structure built in the 1930s - were yet another part. And an actual working wood-burning fireplace, something of a rarity in New York City, completed the canvas. (A scant couple of blocks from Central Park, where he exercises, Eubanks jokes that the famous park is also where he cuts his firewood.)

The windows offered opportunity to present treatments worthy of a French parlor during the time of that country’s final monarchs. Long, flowing silk draperies - crafted in Eubanks’ own workshops - were the necessary choice.

Yellow and gold tones abound throughout the exquisite surroundings. Besides those rich bright colors, Eubanks insists on other elements in his design. “Gold is my favorite, but I love red and black, too.

“Every room needs a little red, black and gold. I love to mix textiles, paints and exotic woods.”

That interplay is borne out in the living room, where a raised-panel effect was achieved by installing molding, then finishing it and the wall surface in a 10-step paint-and-glaze technique to achieve a convincing wood look.

The remainder of the room is outfitted with furniture and accessories embodying Eubanks’ favored colors; most furniture pieces are made of exotic woods. The lustrous patina of the oak floor really tops it off, so to speak.

Many of the furnishings and original artwork were acquired during numerous buying trips to Europe, primarily England and France. Eubanks admits some of the pieces were bought to display at the Palm Beach showroom, and hopefully catch the eye of clients and customers, but ended up being perfect for his New York home.

“You never know what you’re going to find. The joy of what we do is the hunt,” Eubanks declares.