White walls and neutral upholstery fabrics don’t distract the eye from breathtaking views of the Hudson River. "It's got unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty of Ellis Island and the Hudson River. You see incredible iconic New York architecture from every room," says Vern. "I knew that was something I wanted to feature and celebrate."
An 18-inch porcelain figure presides over the living space. The sculpture was purchased at Pearl River Mart, a SoHo department store that specializes in Chinese goods. "Only in a city like New York do you have access to so many pieces, so many one-of-a-kind pieces and rare finds," says Vern.
A 100-year-old Peruvian rug adds a graphic element that Vern finds appealing. "It has a primitive quality that makes it almost sophisticated," he says. "It has soul, and it has depth and you can't necessarily get that same depth in a brand-new rug."
Two recycled aluminum side tables lend a hint of shimmer. "They have a built-in stain resistance with their metal surfaces, thus removing the need for coasters," says Vern. "They are also easy to move when you want the sofa to slide out and have a reflective surface that helps expand the visual plane."
"Books populate the entire unit," says Vern, who selected titles that celebrate New York, its history and culture. "I collected them all throughout the journey," adds Vern, who snatched up books while he shopped for other apartment furnishings.
Flooded with daylight, the apartment requires few lighting fixtures aside from desk lamps that Vern purchased at Haus Interior. "The store is run by a woman who is really up and coming in the world of design," says Vern. "She has limited square footage, but everything in her store is carefully thought out."
An Italian-made sofa, upholstered in charcoal gray, converts into a chaise. "I love the low lines of it and the polished chrome legs," says Vern. "It's a great looking sofa. The fact that it has additional functions is just fantastic."
The sofa converts to a bed, ideal for overnight quests. Vern, whose own one-bedroom New York City apartment features a sleeper sofa, considered it a must-have. "It's so important in New York to have things that actually serve many purposes," he says.
A leather chaise, purchased at Oly in Tribeca, serves as both seating for company and a spot to relax and enjoy the view. "I can picture someone lying on that chaise longue and reading the Sunday New York Times or taking a nap, falling asleep to the views of the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River," says Vern.
Vern topped the chaise with a baby alpaca wool throw blanket and Olympus field binoculars. "You can just waste your day away, looking at the boats going by," says Vern.
When entertaining guests, the party can easily spill from the kitchen and dining area into the living space. Additional seating is provided by window seats.
Walls of windows provide a bird's-eye view of the southern tip of Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the UNICEF Headquarters building (a non-profit organization near and dear to Vern’s heart) are among the historic landmarks visible from HGTV Urban Oasis.
"Those are among the most important things in the entire unit to me," says Vern of candle hurricanes he placed in the corner of the room. Vern decorated the landmark Cipriani for the 2009 UNICEF Snowflake Ball, an iconic New York City event, and incorporated the accessories into table settings. "All those faces are faces of children UNICEF has aided," he adds.
Purchased at a shop on the Upper East Side, a circa-1970s glass and chrome bar cart doubles as an end table in the living space. Vern appreciates its dual function. "I just think it's so great looking," he says.
An iron figurine, spotted and snatched up at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, stands guard over the living room. "I love the character of it and the patina of it," says Vern. "To me, it felt so authentically New York."
A driftwood mirror, placed under the console, balances the room's industrial-style features. "It has an organic quality to it," says Vern. "It's really about balancing out the overall aesthetic."
HGTV Urban Oasis combines luxury with the latest technology. A Samsung 3D Blu-ray Disc® Player features 3D capabilities and brings online content to the TV screen via web-connected Samsung applications.
The winner of HGTV Urban Oasis 2010 will receive a Samsung Starter Kit that includes two pairs of 3D Shutter glasses and a Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Blu-ray movie disc.
Escaping Elephants, a black-and-white photograph by artist Matthew Pillsbury, makes a statement in the living room. Pillsbury, who specializes in long-exposure photography, captured a late-night image of dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, located near Central Park. "If you look carefully in the bottom right corner you will see the subtle outline of a security guard who was making his rounds in that space," says Vern. "It's mystical and ethereal – I love that quality about that photograph."
Proving that small spaces can indeed be luxurious, Vern sprinkled the living space with opulent touches, including velvet and wool-blend felt pillows.
A wrought-iron flag brace, circa early 1900s, holds court in a far corner of the apartment. The rusted artifact, rescued from a building scheduled to be demolished, finds new life as a candle sconce. "It has such incredible, beautiful detail," says Vern.
Contemporary Asian-style porcelain dinnerware and bottles of IZZE sparkling juice invite guests to sit back and relax. Vern served up color in small dollops to keep all eyes focused on the spectacular views.
A Deco-style three-tiered side table complements wire-brushed walnut floors. "The wood flooring has depth and warmth, and I wanted that in the unit," says Vern. "I wanted it to feel like it was a home."
The apartment takes on added glamour as the sun sets and the big lights of the city sparkle in the night sky.