Tribeca, New York
Brittany Ambridge
Architectural Digest

“Like making a movie, you need a plan, but you have to be open to inspiration and surprise,” observes Hollywood director, producer, and actor Shawn Levy of dreaming up the interiors for his Manhattan apartment alongside his wife, Serena, and AD100 designer Jeremiah Brent. “And that’s the way we worked on this—there’s a real parallel to the process.”

As with Levy’s marquee professional endeavors—which most recently include Netflix’s All the Light We Cannot See and the forthcoming Marvel feature Deadpool 3—this project came with its own set of epic expectations. Over 25 years ago, when the Levys met and began dating in LA, Shawn, then a graduate film student at USC, assured Serena that one day they would return to the East Coast, where they both had roots. “It took me a little shy of three decades, but this was me finally making good on that early promise,” he admits.

“They wanted a space that was rooted in intimacy and connection, something that could be big and expansive or that could be really intimate and small if it needed to be”

Tribeca, New York

When the couple were shown a Tribeca listing with exposed brickwork and beams, all-day natural light, and open entertaining areas including a great room, all with discreet separate wings for the primary suite and their two (of four) daughters who still live at home—they were sold. But this was no plug-and-play design project, and the Levys brought with them a director’s sense for what they wanted.

For most projects, Brent, a natural storyteller, tries to convince his clients to look at their spaces in less conventional ways, he says, focusing on the ceremony of their daily lives and then creating rooms around that. Fortunately, Shawn and Serena, who’s an early childhood development specialist, were two steps ahead. “They wanted a space that was rooted in intimacy and connection, something that could be big and expansive or that could be really intimate and small if it needed to be,” Brent explains.

Media Room Details

Specifically, the Levys hoped to convey a sense of belonging, which Brent manifested throughout the home, in part by seamlessly incorporating their art collection—comprising works by Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel—and a number of existing furniture pieces in the plan. Unexpectedly, in an entry hall just off the kitchen, he created one of the most popular gathering spots for the family, their dogs, and visitors. “We never asked for this, never expected this,” confides Shawn of Brent’s spin on the foyer, which now includes a plush Pierre Chapo daybed, paintings, an antique mirror, and a triple-neck floor lamp. “He created an inviting hangout space in what could have otherwise been one that you walk through.”

Elsewhere, Brent further integrated the Levys’ well-worn routines into the brief. The bar in the great room, a favorite spot for Shawn and Serena to end the day with a cocktail or entertain friends, is appropriately focal, appointed with a Calacatta turquoise marble top, vintage stools recovered in rich green leather, and a French Victorian carved giltwood mirror. Likewise, the kitchen island would need to accommodate daily breakfasts before work and school, while the neighboring dining nook would serve as the backdrop for most family dinners. Both were rendered unfussy, bright, and durable enough for heavy use. But Brent was also apt to turn up the drama, as he did in the great room, installing Murano glass ceiling pendants that remind the Levys of jewelry, or in the library, with its moody dark millwork, crushed velvet, and lavenders.

As with one of his own productions, Shawn relished the synergistic, methodical approach the trio took to achieve the final result. “You create something that feels right to you in the moment and then you get feedback from your collaborators,” he says, “and you take in that feedback, you come back with a revision, and it iterates towards work that still feels true to the creative but also true to the whole group.”

Reflecting on the project, Brent is of a similar mind. “My favorite thing to do is create for creators,” he says. “I like that challenge. I like the idea of pushing Shawn Levy to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes I won and sometimes we met in the middle, but I believe that middle is where all the sweet stuff is.”