Sixteen years in the past, Andrew Solomon went to Afghanistan on task for The New York Times. A sedulous reporter — Mr. Solomon’s acclaimed books embody “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” partly a memoir of his personal wrestle with the dysfunction — he got here again with compelling tales.
He additionally got here again with a tile panel and a bit of calligraphy.
“My husband teased me about that,” recalled Mr. Solomon, 54, whose ebook “Far From the Tree,” about dad and mom with distinctive kids, impressed a documentary of the identical title that’s due out July 20.
“He said, ‘It takes some doing to turn a trip to Afghanistan into a shopping expedition.’”
Really, it was traditional Andrew Solomon. A Manhattan Medici, he lives together with his husband, John Habich Solomon, a contract editor, and their 9-year-old son, George, in an imposing Greenwich Village brownstone that was as soon as the residence of the poet Emma Lazarus. (Between them, the couple have three different kids who dwell elsewhere however go to usually.)
It is 4 sweeping flights as much as the jewel-of-a-rooftop bower, the province of Mr. Habich Solomon, a perfervid gardener. The inside house is especially cultivated by Mr. Solomon.
The home is adorned with assured and refined theatricality: custom-designed brocade-and-velvet sofas; a domed eating nook with a mosaic ceiling; a double-height library with a wrought-iron catwalk of gossamer delicacy; considerable antiques, bibelots, up to date artworks and some flea-market thrives. And it supplies proof each of a passport that has been stamped ceaselessly and a conviction, borrowed from Tennyson, that “I am a part of all that I have seen.”
“And if it’s part of me, it’s part of my house and the way I live in it,” Mr. Solomon mentioned.
A a part of him, sure, and a mirrored image of him. “The house is a little bit grand, but it’s not meant to intimidate,” he mentioned. “I need it to be heat and welcoming.
“I don’t know if I’m just a little bit grand,” he added. “That’s kind of your call. But I do try to be embracing, and the people who come to visit say it feels like a very warm house.”
For the document, there are a lot of, many guests; some unpack their baggage, put up their ft and keep for an excellent lengthy whereas. No downside.
In 1992, not lengthy after the assisted suicide of his mom, Carolyn, who had terminal most cancers, Mr. Solomon received a name from the lady who had been her greatest pal, a psychologist turned actual property agent. A brownstone, a part of an property sale, had come up on Mr. Solomon’s favourite block.
It was, she assured him, the home he was going to dwell in for the remainder of his life.
“I told her I wasn’t even sure I was going to stay in New York,” mentioned Mr. Solomon, who has lengthy had a residence in London, and is a twin nationwide. “But she said that once I saw it I would stay in New York.”
Untouched for years, the home redefined squalor. But it had additionally escaped unsympathetic modernizing. Much of the interval element — fireplaces, woodwork, inlaid flooring — remained. Mr. Solomon wished in. One of two bidders at the probate sale, he prevailed, although it could be 4 years earlier than renovations had been accomplished and he moved in, and one other 5 earlier than he felt that he absolutely inhabited the property.
Soon after Mr. Solomon took possession of the home, he turned to the architect and inside designer Robert Couturier for steerage and course on rebuilding and refurbishing.
“The challenge of the house is that it’s very deep and there’s a middle area that doesn’t get a huge amount of light, and we had to figure that out,” Mr. Solomon mentioned.
In the case of the lengthy, slender, railroad-car-like front room, Mr. Couturier’s resolution was to create a pair of arched doorways to open up the house to the entrance corridor. And it was Mr. Couturier who devised the domed room and the catwalk within the library, Mr. Solomon’s favourite room. “It really speaks to who I am,” he mentioned. “Books are sort of my life.”
The souvenirs of his many journeys are in every single place: on surfaces, on partitions and, as with the vintage Iznik tiles from Turkey, in partitions. Two carved-wood panels from a Beijing flea market had been included into the design of the Chinese wedding ceremony mattress in the main bedroom. A looking cup from Kazakhstan is on show within the library. A pair of battle golf equipment from the Solomon Islands sits peacefully on a chest in the lounge.
The huge eating desk, purchased at an antiques store in London, was made in 1927, so Mr. Solomon was informed, as an audition piece by an English firm wanting to safe the fee to do the cabinetry for the Cunard Line. Austrian Biedermeier chairs from the early 19th century now circle the desk.
“I like the feeling of various styles and periods coming together,” mentioned Mr. Solomon, who had meant the desk for his London home. “But though the top comes off, the base was still too large to fit.”
Into storage it went.
“When I settled in New York, my father dryly remarked, ‘I see you’ve found a house to go with that table of yours.’”
Mr. Solomon will inform you that he has sufficient inner chaos to not welcome exterior chaos. Nonetheless, he cherishes a sure dissonance within the décor, at least — the furnishings and oddments from his grandmother, just like the scarf on the piano, that don’t fairly match with their refined environment.
“I didn’t want the house to be pompous,” Mr. Solomon mentioned. “I think that often in New York big houses are done up in a way that seems a little too perfect to me.”
When he moved in, he mentioned, he was overwhelmed. “I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’” he recalled. Within a month, he had a whole collapse, his second. And as with the primary breakdown, he moved in for a time together with his father.
“But I grew accustomed to the house,” Mr. Solomon mentioned. “And it feels very safe to me. And now that I’m married and have a child, and it’s usually full of hustle and bustle, it’s come to feel like a joyful, exuberant place to be.”