Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s Stunning New York City Apartment
Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber collaborate with design firm Ashe + Leandro to transform a Manhattan artist’s loft into an inviting family oasis
Posted February 2, 2016 · Magazine
Stars, they’re just like us. Even a two-time Oscar nominee, it turns out, can fall prey to new-home anxiety. “I mean, look at this place,” Naomi Watts says. “Is it too big? Are we taking on more than we should? Maybe we should have stayed where we were? I don’t know!” And then the actress throws her arms up and lets out a lovely, nervous laugh.
Watts is standing in the entry hall of the Manhattan apartment she shares with her partner, actor Liev Schreiber, and their two sons, eight-year-old Alexander and seven-year-old Samuel. Oh, and there’s Bob, too. He’s the Yorkie. The journey to this moment has been long, twisting, and fraught with the kind of drama that Watts—who is in three movies coming out this year—usually has to cope with only in make-believe.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Fifteen years ago, when the British-born, Australian-raised Watts’s career was starting to blossom and she was looking for a toehold in New York City, she bought an apartment in the Financial District after seeing it once. “Not because I loved it but because of the pressure!” she recounts. “I had no idea deals here moved that fast. After I closed on it, I showed it to my mother, who is a bit of a bohemian—and a super-talented decorator. She walked in and said, ‘This is horrible. No soul. No character. It’s a businessman’s apartment.’ I was crushed. But she was right.”
Watts sold the place quickly. “You know, I should have kept it,” she laments. “Now it’s worth twice what I paid.” She settled in Los Angeles, where she built her career in movies ranging from Mulholland Drive to 21 Grams to King Kong to last year’s Academy Award winner for best picture, Birdman. “But then I met Mr. New York,” she says, “andeverything changed.” Mr. New York, of course, is Liev Schreiber, acclaimed for playing hardened, complex characters in films such as Spotlight and on the Showtime series Ray Donovan. “We fell in love, so I moved here and we lived in his fantastic NoHo place for years,” Watts says. “We started our family and were quite happy.”
Like so many New Yorkers, however, they soon found themselves desiring a certain precious commodity. “We knew we wanted space for the kids to grow—and for all of us,” Watts says. So they began The Hunt.
While Watts remarks that “with New York real estate, you never get everything you want,” she and Schreiber were able to create a duplex from two separate units—one had been an artist’s loft—checking off most of the boxes on their wish list. Then, shortly after they closed the deal, Hurricane Sandy struck, and the building, near the Hudson River, was flooded. For months they couldn’t enter the property, proving another rule of New York real estate: It will test you, constantly asking, How badly do you want to live here?
When the couple finally got back in, the place was a mess. After taking time to weigh options, they hired an architect but changed course several months later. Two years into owning the residence, it was raw space. “One thing I’ve learned,” Watts says, “is when it comes to big renovations, no one gets an easy ride.” Ultimately they enlisted Ariel Ashe and Reinaldo Leandro, the duo behind the firm Ashe + Leandro, to design the interiors. That’s when things kicked into high gear.
“This project was design on steroids,” Leandro says, standing in the first-floor library/screening room, which also serves as a place for Watts and Schreiber to take meetings and study scripts. “I had drawings in four months, and then we did the entire renovation in ten. It was insanely fast. But fun. Naomi brought a great eye and taste to the project and was a terrific creative partner.”
Black-and-white floor tiles by Clé provide a graphic welcome at the Manhattan duplex apartment that actors Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber share with their two sons; the interiors were designed by the firm Ashe + Leandro. The entrance hall’s pendant light is by Ralph Lauren Home, the 19th-century shell-back chairs are from KRB, and the painting in the stairway is by Harland Miller.
Watts in the dining room.
In the living room, a 19th-century Gabon mask from Throckmorton Fine Art and an artwork by Paul Morehouse overlook matching velvet-covered RH sofas, which are separated by a Ralph Lauren Homeconsole. The cocktail table is by Robert Pluhowski, the floor lamp is by Ralph Lauren Home, the low tables in the foreground are by Blaxsand, and the round leather chair at far right is by Garza Marfa; the jute rugs are by Merida.
The kitchen features pendant lights by the Lamp Goods, a Wolf microwave, Lostine stools, and a checkerboard concrete-tile floor; Ashe + Leandro designed the cabinetry and hood.
Schreiber and Watts are joined by sons Alexander (left) and Samuel around the kitchen’s bleached-walnut banquette.
Lights by Apparatus Studio hang above the dining room’s Ralph Lauren Home table and Sol y Lunachairs. The mirror and cabinet are antique, and the Tuareg carpet is vintage.
A painting by Angela Gram is mounted in the green-lacquer bar off the library.
A Living Divani sectional sofa is paired with a custom-made John Robshaw rug in the playroom; the ceiling lights are by Michael Anastassiades for Flos, the floor lamp is by Ralph Lauren Home, and the Norman Cherner chairs at the desk unit are by Design Within Reach.
Images by Watts’s brother, photographer Ben Watts, are displayed above RH Baby & Child beds in the boys’ room; the pillowcases are by Ralph Lauren Home, the sconces are by Atelier de Troupe, the nightstand is by Room & Board, and the antique kilim is from Double Knot.
A playful mix of patterns animates the guest room.
A bath adjacent to the home gym.
A Ralph Lauren Home light fixture illuminates the master bath’s Victoria + Albert tub, which hasDornbracht fittings; the mirror and chair are antique, and the penny tile is by Waterworks.
Ashe + Leandro designed the master bath’s washstand sinks.
In the master bedroom, an RH bed is grouped with Ralph Lauren Home side tables and a vintage Italian bench from Billy Cotton; the walls are clad in a Clarence House fabric, the curtains are of a Duralee floral, and an antique Moroccan rug is laid atop carpeting by Holland & Sherry.