Gloria Vanderbilt was born on February 20, 1924, in New York City. Her father, Reginald Vanderbilt, was the great-grandson Cornelius Vanderbilt who founded the railroad empire and was one of America’s first millionaires. When Vanderbilt lost her father, she inherited a multi-million dollar trust fund. Before going to live with her aunt, she traveled abroad with her mother. Although that quickly ended because her mother wasn’t maternal. She grew up in the gilded age. Her first decorating project was when she was a teenager. Her aunt asked her to decorate the room of her late husband because the brown décor was uninviting. Vanderbilt redid the room in an Egyptian theme. The results were so impressive, Diana Vrelanda wanted to photograph Vanderbilt in the room. So, at fifteen, Louise Dahl-Wolfe did a spread of her in Harper’s Bizarre, her first in a long line of photoshoots. Gloria Vanderbilt said, ” decorating is autobiography “. During an interview with NY magazine, Gloria Vanderbilt said, “decorating is autobiography.”
When you look at her Upper East apartment, you see a museum of an extraordinary life. Much of the décor is similar to a find the object book. Although you are looking for one thing, you are sure to find many more things hidden. Although, in Vanderbilt’s apartment, they are all in plain sight. Her son, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, some of the items, including a breadbox painted with pastoral landscapes. There is so much to see throughout the townhouse that you may miss quite a few things at first glance. The house has three bedrooms and two and a half baths; built-in 1931. Additionally, it has a library, eat-in kitchen, and a wood-burning fireplace. During the day, it has a ton of natural light, and during the evening, despite being located near many shops and restaurants, it’s quiet.
The living room is a rectangle with many paintings on the walls, including the portrait of Vanderbilt wearing a yellow dress she wanted to be cremated while wearing. The fireplace is a brown and white marble. Over it hangs a large picture of a house at dusk. Two classic wingback chairs flank it. The rug in front of the fireplace is jarring since it matches neither the couch nor the fireplace. It’s a black and white whimsical floral pattern with bright yellow and red tulips in pots. The coffee table is neutral, but a couch makes the living room even more eclectic. It’s a brown couch with bold pink flowers and green and brown striped pillows. Overall, the sofa and pillows match well.
The dining room is more cohesive than other rooms. Overall, it has a turn-of-the-century feel that is probably part of the original woodwork of the apartment. The floor is a black slate tile. One wall of the dining room is a mirror with a wood baseboard. There is a single picture with an ornate gold frame hanging against the mirror and a smaller mirror that matches the edge of the portrait. Across from the mirror wall is a dining room hutch built-in with scroll detail. It has an extensive collection of knick-knacks. The dining room table in the middle is a complimentary word to the rest of the room. An ornate chandelier hangs over the table. Again, it looks like it is original to the townhouse. At the far end are two paintings that depict outdoor views t night. If you were sitting at the dining room table, it would feel like you are looking out the window.
A mannequin stands sentinel near the table. To her left is a room divider screen that, although oriental influence, doesn’t seem out of place in the room. There are also several paintings on the floor leaning against the walls. Through a pink door off from the dining room is the kitchen. To the left are a small eating area with an antique metal table and two black chairs. Two prints hang over one wall, a mona mi advertisement, and one of a bride that has a colonial influence. On the wall to the left are a series of three smaller prints that look like vintage advertisements. A few feet from the table is built-in with three shelves and a small desk. The shelves have various knick-knacks and books but don’t seem overcrowded like other portions of the house. The kitchen itself is nondescript. The cabinets are boxy and plain, and the kitchen is sparse and modular with stainless steel appliances.
One of the bedrooms in the house appears to be a decades collection. The beds seem similar to what you would expect during the gilded era when Vanderbilt grew up. Across from those is a circular table flanked by two wingback chairs with throw pillows with a bohemian design. Additionally, vanity on the left wall would most likely be found in a classic Hollywood actresses’ dressing room. It is flanked by a handful of pictures from different eras. One visible wall is a mirror with photographs leaning against it. The other wall where the wingback chairs are again the wall with windows. Each window has a pink-read border with an air conditioning unit and a small photo on a shelf. There is a room divider with a single picture above one of the chairs.
Gloria Vanderbilt once said, “all the rooms I have ever lived in reflect the evolving tastes of my hopes and dreams.” Besides decorating her house, she has one room dedicated to crafting what she calls “Dream Boxes,” three-dimensional pieces that reflected her emotional state throughout her life. Vanderbilt lived in Beekman place for over more than twenty-five years. According to Yahoo, it was “a constantly-evolving creative cocoon, where she worked, played, entertained, and made some magic.” Although her unique style will not go with the house, it is being listed by Ileen Schoenfeld and Aracely Moran of Brown Harris Stevens for 1.125 million dollars.