One of the many lessons gleaned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is that it’s great, if at all possible, to have an escape from life in a crowded city. Casey Smith is lucky to have it both ways. Home base for the inveterate collector and serial renovator is Tucson, Arizona, where he spends his days buying and restoring old houses. But when the temperature starts to soar, or when he simply tires of the tumbleweeds, Smith decamps to his chic New York City pied-à-terre in Carroll Gardens.
“This is my Brooklyn dream. You look out these massive windows and all you see is trees,” Smith says of his urban oasis, perched in a town house across the street from Carroll Park. “The light here is incredible. It’s such a great way to be back in New York,” he adds.
Three years ago, Smith traded in his erstwhile Manhattan home for a duplex in a classic 1928 West Hollywood courtyard building in Los Angeles. As seductive as the L.A. lifestyle was, Smith’s business interests eventually propelled him back east. “Things happen, life changes, and I once again decided to heed the siren call of Gotham. But this time around, Brooklyn felt like the right place for me. It has the perfect combination of energy and calm,” he says, explaining his sudden volte-face. Among his varied projects, he is currently working with the progressive New York City–based real estate development firm Tankhouse and the avant-garde architecture practice SO-IL, consulting on the interiors (i.e., model apartments and public spaces) of new multiunit residential projects on Warren and Jay Streets in Brooklyn.
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Smith designed his own Brooklyn domicile for maximum serenity and ease, bathing the walls in crisp white paint accented by strategic splashes of color on the ceilings: marigold in the living room, and a soft powder blue in the primary bedroom. In much the same way as he decorated his L.A. duplex, Smith orchestrated a centuries-spanning array of furnishings and artworks, both humble and pedigreed, for his New York lair. In the living room alone, the polyglot ensemble encompasses a vintage Dunbar sofa, a Charlotte Perriand table, chairs by Martin Eisler and Faye Toogood, an Italian folding screen, and a contemporary dining table by Billy Cotton, all set on a carnelian-colored carpet laid over the parquet floor. “I wanted to keep it light, bright, and, most of all, uncluttered. It’s a slightly eccentric composition, but I tried to keep everything in balance,” Smith insists.
In his bedroom, Smith improbably hung an antique painting on its side above an upholstered sleigh bed. “It worked better that way for the proportions of the room, plus I think it puts a modern twist on living with an Old Master–style artwork,” he avers. The curious art installation notwithstanding, Smith says that the bedroom’s CB2 hanging lamp is the piece that garners the most attention from visitors. “I’ve got all this fancy stuff, but the lamp always gets comments. It’s the least expensive and most talked about piece in the apartment,” he says, laughing. Apparently, when you’re a master of the mix, you never know where the kudos are going to land.