Our ongoing series “My sqft” checks out the homes of 6sqft’s friends, family and fellow New Yorkers across all the boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to the Upper West Side. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!
Carlos Alimurung has been calling Manhattan home for nearly all of his life; he’s lived in Midtown East, the West Village, and today he can be found in the Upper West Side. But for Carlos, the neighborhood is more than just a place to lay his head. Rather, he feels a very special connection with it: his parents met at a party there in the 1970s and he has fond memories of eating freshly sliced hot pastrami at Zabar’s as a kid. As such, in 2007, while hunting for a new home to settle into, Carlos decided to replant his roots along 88th Street in a one-bedroom apartment in a pre-war condo conversion.
As a media executive and a passionate traveler, Carlos has been around the globe and back, collecting art, baubles and all sorts of worldly items along the way. But while world travelers are often susceptible to hoarding goods, Carlos has created an ultra-zen space in the city that feels like a museum without all the “do not touch” signs. From the South American and Asian artifacts he’s collected during his expat days to mementos from his parents’ time living in NYC to gifts from the friends he’s met on his journeys, see how this cultured minimalist has outfitted his 770-square-foot Upper West Side pad.
How did you go about decorating your place? Everything looks carefully curated.
Carlos: Everything has its place. The space certainly dictated what kind of furniture could fit in the apartment. It took a lot of deliberate planning. Designer and licensed furniture pieces can get expensive, but there are “good enough” and “close enough” pieces out there that are more reasonably priced. You just need to be patient and look around.
As for the smaller items and the wall pieces, I tend not to worry about where something will go when I make the purchase decision. I believe that if the connection is strong enough, it will be easy to find a proper place for it.
What is your favorite architectural detail about your home?
Carlos: It’s great that every room in my apartment has a window—even the bathroom. Having natural sunlight in every room is a bonus that I didn’t appreciate until my first winter in the apartment. Then again, having the space for a washer and dryer and central AC are, in some respects, more important than sunlight!
Do you have a favorite room?
Carlos: I consider the kitchen the main attraction of my home—the great sunlight, granite countertops, built-in refrigerator and dishwasher, hanging pot rack, and endless storage. It’s where everyone always gathers and, besides the bedroom, it’s where I spend most of my time.
What’s your favorite piece of decor or furniture?
Carlos: When I saw how the developer was renovating the old apartments into these beautiful pre-war homes, I thought that my partiality towards mid-19th century furniture pieces would match well. As for the other stuff in here, I want to be surrounded by items that remind me of the all the fortunate things I’ve been able to experience and the people whom I’ve met. So how about my favorite five pieces? I bought a stone head sculpture of King Jayavarman VII from an art conservatory when I toured Ankor Wat. It reminds me not only of that great trip, but also how I schlepped that 20-pound head in a backpack through Asia and South America before returning to the States. You should have seen airport security when they saw a stone head going through the X-ray machine!
One of my high school friends, Jamie Tanner, is a comic book artist. A few years ago, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to help publish his book. My reward for supporting him was an original art piece, the subject of which I was allowed to choose. I selected the “Burghers of Calais,” which is my favorite sculpture by Rodin. You can check it out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s an impressive sculpture, and Jamie did a great job replicating it in his own style.
Carlos: My father also bought a wooden cutout of the Aztec calendar stone many years ago in Mexico City, and my mother converted it into a table. They gave it to me when I moved into the city. I now use it as a bedside table. It’s a great piece.
Carlos: I love all my books. I certainly enjoy my Kindle, but there’s something about the feel, smell, and sound of a real book that seems more natural to me. One cool set of books was given to me by an old friend, Caroline Issa, CEO and fashion director for TANK Magazine. She came up with a cool concept of putting classic books into cigarette boxes. Thought it was cool looking and a clever message: “read a good book instead of smoking cigarettes.”
Carlos: My business school classmate and good friend Chris Gallant and his business partner Damian Brown decided to launch the Bronx Brewery, and last year they opened up in the South Bronx. I’m an investor and served on the advisory board for a few years. They were kind enough to send me a copy of the blueprint of the brewery after the groundbreaking. It reminds that business is about supporting local businesses and artisans, creating jobs, and supporting your friends’ dreams. And, getting free beer is cool, too.
Collection of masks from India, Malaysia, Argentina and Tanzania.
You seem to have city wanderlust. Do you plan on staying in the Upper West Side?
Carlos: Living in the Upper West Side enables anyone to feel “settled down.” This neighborhood is for New Yorkers who want a residential feel, but still want to live in Manhattan. As for seriously settling down, I’d love to live here long-term. But the reality is that it’s incredibly expensive to buy anything larger than a one-bedroom here. If things work out, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to stay. I’m working hard to make that happen. If I can’t, I think the Upper East Side is a good option. You can get more space for the dollar out there, especially east of Park Avenue.
Gaucho drinking horn from Buenos Aires and a Maori bone carving from when Carlos visited New Zealand.
How has the neighborhood changed since when you first moved in?
Carlos: When I moved in 2007, gentrification was accelerating. The upper 80s were already turning. Now the upper 90s have turned. There are a lot more baby strollers on Saturdays and Sundays—and baby strollers certainly have gotten bigger, too. The best thing that has changed is the restaurant scene. And it’s getting a bit more commercial, which is good and bad. Lincoln Center and Julliard are beautiful now, but we lost Barnes & Noble to a Century 21. That was a huge loss for the neighborhood. Actually, the biggest loss was when H&H Bagel shut down. I miss those bagels!
What are your favorite spots in your neighborhood?
Carlos: The food scene here is great. The best sushi restaurant is Sushi of Gari. It’s expensive, but their omakase is awesome. Boulud Sud, Dovetail, and Telepan are incredible culinary experiences for special occasions. RedFarm can get crowded, but it’s worth the hassle. Jacob’s Pickles, Bodrum, and the newly opened Jin Ramen are casual favorites of mine as well. Of course, Levain Bakery, Magnolia, Beard Papa’s, and Insomnia Cookies are perfect for anyone with calories to burn.
Zabar’s and Fairway are pillars of my Upper West Side existence. I’m there all the time. The second floor of Zabar’s has a comprehensive selection of everything you’d ever want to buy for your kitchen. The Zabar’s shopping experience is prototypical Manhattan.
Certainly, the Museum of Natural History is a must mention. I pay a visit at least once a quarter. But, I think one of the most under-appreciated museums in the city is next door: the New-York Historical Society Museum. The 20-minute introductory film is well worth the price of admission. And Café Storico, which is inside the museum, has great pasta and burrata.
You can’t mention the Upper West Side without talking about Central Park. How it hugs the Park is what makes this neighborhood so livable. Running around the Jackie Onassis Reservoir and picnicking on the Great Lawn are common activities for all Upper West Siders.
What would you change about your neighborhood?
Carlos: That’s a tough one. I think the neighborhood could use more sushi and Chinese restaurants. We need to keep Gari and RedFarm on their toes!
Carlos and his girlfriend, Ruby in his kitchen.
- My 1,680sqft: Artist Anne Peabody Invites Us Into Her Landmarked Clinton Hill Carriage House
- My 500sqft: Artist Hector Castaneda Invites Us into His Spanish Harlem One-Bedroom ‘Museum’
- My 425sqft: Tour a Bubbly Packaging Designer’s Boerum Hill Studio Filled with Eclectic Finds
Tags : Carlos Alimurung
Neighborhoods : Upper West Side