Liv Tyler is synonymous with West Village living, like the Corner Bistro or Bleecker Street. The star, a resident for the past 20 years of one of Manhattan’s most charming neighborhoods, has been captured several times on the local streets — walking her dog, pushing a stroller, or frequenting her favourite corner store.
“I just love how I don’t even have to leave my block,” says Tyler. “Mary’s Fish Camp is my favorite restaurant. I grew up in Maine so I get all Maine food there. Lobster knuckles. I literally go across the street and will talk to the guys there for, like, 45 minutes and get all my favorite treats.”
Tyler considers her beautifully restored, four-story townhouse on West 11th Street her home. “I come all the time for work,” says Tyler. “I’ve been here five times in the past few months. I just come and stay and plan little plans where I invite everyone that I love to come and be with me here. Everything I’ve ever owned is here. All my clothes, all my collections and all the little things.”
It’s Liv’s commitment to the little things that turned the restoration of her estate into a labour of love. Built in the late 1800s, by the time Tyler bought the building in 2001, the brownstone had already been through a number of incarnations. “I had been told that three spinster sisters had lived there, which I loved. Then a politician owned it. Each floor was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, and everything historic had been taken out of it. When I found it, it was really, really, really run down. You really needed to have a vision to see what it would be—and I could just see it,” says Tyler.
After meeting with a handful of architects, Tyler decided to work with Ben Petreath, who had been with Fairfax and Sammons at the time.She notes how she preferred them because they rendered hand sketches as opposed to computer-generated drawings.
Tyler recalls, “It was weird because even though I was so young, I really wanted to bring the house back to its original glory. I wanted to really honor the house and put back all the beautiful details. Literally, every window is new, every door is new. We gutted it down to the absolute brick. The only thing we kept was the stairs, all the beautiful carvings and the banisters, but each step, each tread and riser, had to be remade.”
There was no space for cutting corners considering the order. For Tyler, she wanted the windows to look like they used to, so they used Polish glass from a factory that blows them up into single planes. These planes, according to her, when looked up at, the light would dance differently.Liv and her team would spend hours at another West Village mainstay, the French eatery Tartine, gathering inspiration for the renovation and poring over issues of World of Interiors. Although the design had held her interest, Tyler was more than happy to join the crew and break a sweat as well. “There was scaffolding inside, all over the rooms, and I would get up and help them, they’d make these amazing carvings and you’d put the plaster up and slide it across to make the perfect shape,” says Tyler. She explains that she loves spending the afternoon with a worksman and learning about their craft and what constitutes a body of work that would stand the test of time.