As Barbra Streisand so memorably pointed out, the difference between a house and a home is of course the people who occupy it. On a snowy Saturday morning in January, there was lots of good cheer coming from this gorgeous fourth-floor unit in Park Foundry.
There were a bunch of foundries in Jersey City back in the day, a foundry being a factory that casts metal. At Park Foundry, Edward Schroeder’s Lamp Works and Brass Foundry was making lamps for railroads, street cars, ships, and hotels, as well as railings, and “all kinds of brass work, fitting and specialties.” This was in the late 1800s, when the address was 716-718 Jersey Ave., and the phone number was a simple 474. (Thank you John Beekman with the New Jersey Room of the Jersey City Free Public Library!)
When you enter the 21st-century lobby, right away you get a sense of how faithful the renovation is: original wood, painted bricks, high ceilings, archival images, and a general sense of a spare, industrial aesthetic.
The first thing you see when you enter the apartment is a huge arched window. On the first and fourth floors, these original windows have been restored, forming a dramatic focal point for the foundry’s renovated units. The windows let in so much light on a sunny day that there is no need for heat, warming the place to a balmy 80 degrees.
But it’s tenants Chris Styler and Joe Seoane who are providing the real warmth: firm handshakes, friendly eye contact, and maybe a dozen offers of food and drink. A beautiful plate of smoked salmon looked tempting.
An offer of food from these two is a big deal. Chris is a Johnson and Wales graduate, who, among many other things, appeared on Julia Child’s last show and worked on three books with Lidia Bastianich. But they love JC eateries, frequenting the Hamilton Inn, Madame Claude’s, the Light Horse, GPs, the White Star, Pint, and the Cellar. They give a special nod to Kitchen Step.
Joe is vice president of client relations for the Council on Accreditation, an international nonprofit that audits some 2,200 human services organizations.
Chris hails from New Jersey, and Joe grew up in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, attending Xavier High School on 16th Street.
The apartment reflects that Chelsea feel. The couple bought much of the furniture in that section of town, invoking the nostalgia of the old meatpacking district, where Florent ruled, as well as its current incarnation as an epicenter for Apple Geniuses.
They’ve also nabbed some pieces from the newly revived Asbury Park and New Hope’s renowned antique shops.
The unit has two bedrooms and one and a half baths. One of the bedrooms is used as an office with a couch, desk, computer, TV, and shelves with real books.
The living room features a bright red couch and Danish modern dining set. Every detail, from the salmon on the counter and the fruit in a bowl to the yellow tulips in the bedroom, fits perfectly with the chosen palette.
The overall feeling is minimalist with virtually no, and I mean no, clutter. I was reluctant to leave my gloves on the table for fear of messing up the place, but don’t get the wrong idea; these guys are not fussy about it; there will be no repercussions if a glove disrupts the still life.
In fact, we laughed a lot. They’re really fun, and you get the sense that if you weren’t there on business, you’d be there for brunch.
These two gentlemen have made a beautiful house into a welcoming home.
Streisand would be proud.—Kate Rounds