Miracle on 49th Street An Apartment Renovation in Record Time

Construction began in mid August, in the midst of the sweltering heat of New York City. A miracle was taking

place at the United Nations Plaza; a miracle that was completed in 12 short weeks. Walls were being knocked down, electrical wires and plumbing pulled out, furniture designed, materials delivered, appliances installed, and the apartment decoratedall within three months. Impossible? Not really. A miracle? Yes! Just ask Terry Ford, director of the Douglas Elliman Design Division, and the Langers who threw a black-tie dinner party for 50 guests less than two months after they moved in.

The holiday party drew gasps from the guests, not just because of the mesmerizing sounds of the eight cellists or the New York Premier and Debut Orchestra, not because of the five course meal prepared by three chefs or the waiters in white gloves serving three choices of wine, and not just because the guest list included such luminaries as the Brazilian Consul General and the Chairman of the Board of the New York City Opera, but because of the unbelievable transformation. All our friends told us to cancel our party, it was too ambitious an undertaking; the apartment would never be ready, says Diana Langer, owner of the 2,500-square-foot co-op. Terry said it would be, and it was. When the guests arrived, they were in awe.

An Initial Mess

When the Langers bought their new home, it was not much to talk about. It was dark and dingy, and seemed much smaller says Langer. There were openings that needed to be closed and walls that needed to be taken down to create a light and airy atmosphere, and to allow for more design possibilities. The foyer needed to be bigger and deeper. The ceilings had to be torn down and dropped to conceal lighting and speakers. There were heavy drapes covering the picture windows and hiding the unbelievable views of the East River and the surrounding area. The first thing Langer did was pull down the drapes and let in the light. It made such a difference to be able to appreciate the view; it opened everything up. The entire apartment was gutted from floor to ceiling, and designed from scratch.


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