Ina Garten's New York Apartment REVEALED! Pics and Interview

City Pad, City Kitchen  


Take a Look Inside Ina Garten's Cool Manhattan Apartment:  

CHRISTINE PITTEL: You've found one of those rare, operatically tall New York apartments — a 1920s one-bedroom duplex with a double-height living room and that magnificent leaded glass window.

INA GARTEN: I walked in the front door and saw that window and turned to the real estate agent and said, 'I'll take it.' It was basically that quick.

You've got the greatest luxury, volume. But a tall, narrow space can be tricky to furnish.
Everything has to be of a certain scale. Lots of little things would look ditzy. When I travel, I like to shop. I found two sofas that I liked in Belgium. I knew they had to be highbacked, because of the volume. I found a coffee table I liked, so I bought it. Then I put it all into the apartment, and it was just horrible. I had the sofas near the window and a library table by the bookcase, and it felt like two rooms. I wanted to throw it all out and start over. Then I was here with a friend and he started moving furniture around, and literally ten minutes later I thought, Oh my god, it's done.

For me, it's a little like your food. If you start with a few good ingredients, like those sofas, you can't go wrong.
They feel like a cozy little room within a room, don't they?

This may be the one apartment in New York without any overstuffed furniture.
I like a sofa that sits like a chair. I'm short, so if a sofa is too deep I feel like a little girl with my feet sticking out. These are comfortable, but not too cushy. If it's too cushy you start falling asleep.

The bookcase is very unusual, with those big slots for shelves that turn a necessity into the most interesting part of the design.
I first saw it in Axel Vervoordt's antiques shop in Belgium. It's a copy of a 16th-century English bookcase that they make in any size. Axel is the most extraordinary designer I've ever met in my life. Very inspiring. For example, when I bought those little white pots that are now on the mantel, I picked two and asked, Should I buy a third? And he said, No — find something personal to put with them. And I thought, that's why Axel's interiors work, because they have soul. He taught me how to mix modern and antique things. It's the really old things that work best, because they have much cleaner lines.

Like all good cooks, you know when to stop, before you add too many things and muddy the flavors.
I like to keep it simple. Really, I'm a modernist at heart. I like clean lines and clean colors. I was very influenced by a woman named Nicole de Vesian. I met her through a friend whose house and garden she designed. She worked in just four materials — stone, linen, leather, and wood. I have a little envelope of articles about her.

I'm surprised to see the Barefoot Contessa in a small galley kitchen. How does it work?
Let's just say that when I bought this apartment, I told my husband we could just fix the kitchen, paint it white, and move in. Then I talked to my architect, Richard Lewis, and he said, Total gut job. We did a really streamlined kitchen with a cooktop, an under-the-counter refrigerator and freezer, a dishwasher, huge drawers. In a funny way, I actually like a smaller kitchen. It's much more efficient. I tend to like things spare anyway. I can't stand clutter. I like one set of regular china, one set of good china, and that's it. I still have my wedding china from 40 years ago. Ginori, white with a gold rim. It's simple, and it makes food look good.

What did you choose for the countertops?
Belgian stone, with all these little fossils in it. I like that it's kind of messy to start with, so if something leaves a ring, who cares? I've been in houses where the countertop was more important than the people working there, where the sofa was more important than the people sitting on it, and I'm very clear that people are more important than the countertop.

You have this way of making people feel instantly comfortable. What's the secret?
When people come to your house, you don't ever want them to feel that you've been cooking for three days. You want them to feel like this is just something you whipped up and come on, we're having a party. And decorating is like that, too. You don't want people to feel, Oh, don't touch that. You want them to feel, Oh, just sit anywhere and put your feet up.

Is there any hope for people like me, who love the idea of entertaining but get so stressed out, trying to make it perfect?
Entertaining should be about having fun, as opposed to, Oh my god, why did I do this and who are these people? There was something I read when I was first married that I've never forgotten — If you spend the entire day making dinner for your husband, he can't possibly appreciate it enough, and it's not his fault, it's yours. And that's true for your friends. I actually think it's counterintuitive, that the most important thing you can do for friends, to make them feel special, is to give them your attention. My whole goal is never to leave the table.

How on earth do you manage that?
Everything is done before they get there. Because I think if you're worried about what's going on in the kitchen, people sense that. I don't care what I serve, as long as people feel like I'm not doing anything. It could just be roast chicken. At the end of the day, isn't that what everybody wants for dinner anyway? The truth is, I've had more experience than most people, but I'm not really a trained cook. I still make little notes for myself — at 5 p.m., do this. At 5:30, do that. I just think the more organized I am, the more relaxed I'll be when people show up and the more fun we'll have. I'll give you my recipe for Ginger Chicken. You just marinate it overnight, put it in the oven, and you're done. Ginger chicken, roast carrots, and basmati rice. You'll be shocked at how easy it is.



Who wouldn't want that?

For gut_me_out, godwarrior777 and martybru01.