Visit the calming SoHo pied-à-terre that a designer created for her family

When you frequent a hotel so often that the hotel starts renovating rooms to accommodate you and your family, maybe it is time to start looking for your own accommodation. This revelation is what inspired Chilean-born and San Francisco-based interior designer Maca Huneeus to seek a pied-à-terre in Manhattan in 2017.

Once the need was met, Huneeus moved quickly, setting his sights on a then new construction on the border of SoHo and Tribeca. “It was the natural light and the Gaudi-style curves that caught my eye,” she admits. But the building’s modern spaces and sculptural aluminum facade couldn’t have been a bigger departure from the “funky, New York-loft vibe” she had envisioned. On the one hand, she said, there were no exposed brick walls anywhere.

Instead, the 2,700-square-foot apartment had floor-to-ceiling windows and curved plaster walls that give the space an unexpected softness. In the end, the decision came down to convenience. “I wanted something turnkey that we could start using immediately,” she says. Aside from a few minor updates – swapping out what she saw as excess closet storage for more living space – the family of six were able to reunite in their urban retreat in a matter of months.

However, what the building lacked in old New York character, Huneeus planned to make up for with thoughtful design choices. “My philosophy,” she says, “was vintage, vintage, vintage. The designer leaned heavily on obscure collectibles, pulling an eclectic mix from her international Rolodex of sellers – a Pierre Chapo “Eye” coffee table, Osvaldo Borsani’s Canada chair – and sourcing items on 1stDibs (the Maison Lunel wall light and a Harvey Probber dry bar, for example). “I just couldn’t imagine putting a lot of ‘new’ in there,” she explains. “It took soul. These vintage pieces give it that.

Huneeus comes to his love of vintage in an authentic way. The daughter of a collector and an architect, she spent her weekends as a child walking around the oldest ancient haunts of Santiago (the Galeria Carroza, Taller del Marco) with her mother. “None of my siblings was interested in it,” she recalls. “But I could leave without breakfast, without lunch, without anything. I was already so passionate about design.

She remembers the first piece she truly fell in love with, a painting by Delia Del Carril, the wife of Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda, which still hangs in her mother’s living room. “The scale is almost overwhelming,” she says of the graphite horse paint that appears to run across a wall. “It’s unforgettable.” Her strong feelings for this painting made her realize that she was different from other 12 year olds. They did not share his passion for art and objects, nor did they have an eye for recognizing what is wonderfully unique.

Decades later, those qualities are what customers seek out for her: her ability to curate a seemingly disparate mix with ease, to scour global markets in search of beautiful pieces from lesser-known designers and artists. In its own space, this meant combining Finnish lighting by Lisa Johansson-Pape and hand-woven textiles from Nepal with art from close friends, always under the guise of livability. “My family is a family with no shoes, their feet on the furniture,” she laughs. “When we’re here, we like to hang out, to lounge around, to be together. Everything about this apartment makes it easy.

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