Take a stroll on Roosevelt Avenue in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, and what you’ll encounter is movie-perfect New York City in all its loud and colorful glory: the din of the elevated subway line, pedestrians rushing to catch trains, and clusters of food trucks serving cheap and delicious foods. But walk just a few blocks north and suddenly, it’s quiet enough to hear the birds chirping. Here, tall trees line streets populated by stately apartment buildings and the sidewalks are nearly empty. This is the historic section of Jackson Heights, and it’s where creative director Matthew Axe has made a serene and stylish home with his husband, Peyton Hays, an orthopedic surgeon.
The couple moved into The Chateau (many of the area’s landmarked buildings have names) in 2011, attracted to the neighborhood’s affordable real estate, classic architecture, and community of like-minded creatives. Their 1,120-square-foot two-bedroom apartment was perfectly sized for the couple and their Welsh terrier, Rusty. Even better, it hadn’t been stripped of its period charm. “My remodeling philosophy is don’t get rid of anything original,” says Axe, who has art-directed for brands such as Jo Malone London, Kohler, Bellocq, and Martha Stewart Living.
With that in mind, the couple was bent on keeping the apartment’s original molding, built-ins, and hardware when possible. Even idiosyncratic features, like oddly placed radiators, were allowed to stay. Axe and Hays did remodel the kitchen and bathroom, both of which were sorely in need of updates, but they were careful to choose styles and fixtures that were timeless and in keeping with the 1920s building.
The couple may have been accepting of the apartment’s bones, but when it came time to furnish it, they were ruthless about which pieces made it into their home. “If something isn’t useful or beautiful, it goes,” says Axe, of their decorating style. The tranquil home they ultimately created together is an exercise in uncommon restraint and elegant minimalism. Come see for yourself. (And when you’re done with the tour, be sure to check out all the great storage ideas in their apartment over on The Organized Home.)