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Issue Eleven / Home Tours
“Their aesthetic ends up being a collective self-portrait”


Photographs by Philip Ficks Prop Styling by Pam Morris

Our International Home Tours Section continues with this spacious Queens dwelling. 

In this special section, we go beyond the welcome mats of a dozen houses from around the world. These spaces are bound to inspire you and offer variations on the many ways you can live within your own space.

Jackson Heights, Queens, New York

Residents Jesse James, Kostas Anagnopoulos (Gus) and their daughter Olympia
Occupations Jesse: creative director. Kostas: poet/editor. Olympia: first-grader
Type of house Prewar co-op apartment
Year built 1924

Kostas and Jesse’s apartment is what New York realtors call a “Classic Seven”: a prewar apartment with a living room, dining room, kitchen and four bedrooms (plus three bathrooms, marble details, oak floors, a fireplace and griffin gargoyles guarding their front gate). If you’re gasping at the thought of Manhattan folks living in anything larger than a bread box, their space comes with the neighborhood: Jackson Heights, Queens. This historic area boasts incredible buildings, rare garden spaces and is home to a diverse community that includes people hailing from Central America to Southeast Asia. Jesse says their aesthetic ends up being a “collective self-portrait,” with three different people living in a space already imbued with so much character. “Gus’s essence can be found in a lot of the books and artwork, I suppose the mass of objects reflects my inclination to accumulate things and Olympia supplies the spontaneity, providing us with ever-changing, site- specific art installations using rocks, feathers and her many plastic animals.” After moving in, their goal was to restore and simplify the previous owners’ modern additions to “bring the bones back to the feeling of the 1920s.” They restored the cupboards, redid the wiring, resurfaced the walls, refinished the floors, added some wainscoting, repaired the bathroom tiles, and that was only the start. Once they’d rebuilt the skeleton, they set about decorating with a mishmash of antiques from different eras. “Whatever the period, it’s always the patina that grabs us: The wear and tear that come with age adds emotion,” Jesse says. “Car rides in the country take us twice as long as they should because we can’t pass up a barn sale.” The family cooks and shares dinner together most nights, and afterward Gus and Olympia lie with their ears to the floor and listen to their downstairs neighbor play the piano. Together they’ve created a private refuge within the walls of their home, ready to absorb some memories of its own. Using influences from your past and fusing them with your future—that’s what good interior decorating requires. “Start by looking inward and defining what it is you want from a home. Think of the places and environments that are ingrained in your memory for the way that they make you feel,” he says. “Those elements will stand the test of time.”



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