When they moved from Washington, D.C., to New York City in 2014, Peter Ostrega and Samantha Angelo had a vision for their future, and it was peculiarly related to the narrow views of their small apartment on the Lower East Side. “The only thing we could see from our living room, which faced a back alley, was this modern building going up,” says Ostrega, a tall, sharply dressed European. “We started fantasizing about living in a space like that but had no way of accomplishing it at the time.” Ostrega was still finding his footing in the field of legal technology consulting, and his wife had recently left her position as a clarinet player for “The President’s Own,” the oldest military band in the country. “I was ready to make a change, so I took the plunge,” adds Angelo, a svelte blonde with runway looks, referring to her decision to quit music to become a fashion stylist and creative director.
Five years and several smart career moves later, the couple were finally able to purchase their dream home: a window-walled residential unit atop Ian Shrager’s Public Hotel, which occupies the Herzog & de Meuron–designed building they had coveted from their creaky old rental on nearby Mott Street. “It was a big moment for us to make that happen,” says Ostrega. “It’s been an incredible journey, and it’s an incredible place to live.”
While both he and his wife have a strong sense of style (just look to Angelo’s website, The Eye Travels, with images of the pair at various social events), they decided to work with a professional to help them turn the rather cold, minimalist bones of the 2,000-square-foot apartment into a home filled with luminous colors and flowing silhouettes. A friend suggested they talk to Armann Ortega, a young interior designer with a background in film who immediately clicked with the couple. “They looked like they walked out of a movie set,” says Ortega of meeting them for the first time. “She was wearing a bubble-gum pink pantsuit, chunky Maison Margiela shoes, and huge glasses, and I thought, There’s a lot to work with here. They were my inspiration for the whole project.”
Ortega was not only inspired by his clients’ glamorous and often nostalgia-tinged sartorial choices but also by their artistic tastes. Ostrega and Angelo are fans of the Brian De Palma movie Scarface, so the designer let his imagination wander over to Miami, circa 1980, to come up with the look of the property’s office, which features a custom terrazzo desk embedded with bits of mirror, a Mies van der Rohe Brno chair upholstered in fuchsia velvet, and a vintage Art Deco rug in matching hues. There are even more explicit De Palma vibes in the bedroom, which is awash in a deep burgundy wall paint with an intensely matte, textured finish, and decorated with a large abstract photograph simulating dark billowy clouds. “We wanted to make the space feel very dreamy, like a smoky midnight scene,” says Ostrega. “The rest of the apartment is very bright.” Indeed, most of the home has an uplifting palette of saturated pastels, along with pops of purple and blue. Add to that rows of 10-foot-tall windows that flood the space with sunlight during the day and Manhattan’s urban glitter at night, and the result is nothing short of cinematic.