Inside Actor Maura Tierney’s Reinvented West Village Town House

Karin Nelson

Whether it is her Golden Globe–winning performance of Helen Solloway, a devoted wife whose marriage is destroyed on the Showtime series The Affair, or the role of Bernadette, a CIA agent who oversaw enhanced interrogation techniques in the new film The Report, the actor Maura Tierney tends to take on rather intense projects. The renovation of her New York town house in 2013 was no exception. “I ripped everything out down to the studs,” she says. “It was trying.”

Having lived there since 1995, Tierney felt that her West Village home—a warren of small rooms that her architect believes had originally served as single-room occupancies for workers building fancier brownstones nearby—needed a radical change. And more open space. Along with her contractor Vincent Scotto, she tore down walls, added a guest bathroom, created a top-floor office and sitting area out of thin air, turned a shaft that had run through the center of the building into an outdoor shower, and transformed a tar deck into a proper terrace. “There are some people who love this process,” says Tierney. “I’m not one of them—it makes me nervous.”

While the notion of bathing outdoors in New York City might seem unappealing, Tierney contends it’s “heaven.” But then, her outdoor shower, which was built (on her suggestion) where an air shaft had been, and outfitted with Moroccan tiles and a copper Newport Brass showerhead, is a strikingly unique setup. “Even when it’s snowing outside, it gets steamy in there,” she says.
Where there had just been the roof, Tierney built a sitting area and an office. With its camel-colored RH couches, the calming space is where Tierney has coffee in the morning—and entertains at night. The vintage coffee table, found on 1stdibs, raises up for dinner parties. “It’s just a pretty place to chill out,” she says.

To quell her anxiety a bit, she turned to her friend Michael Angelo Stuno to decorate it. Stuno, an L.A.-based interior designer, had previously worked on her house in Hancock Park, as well as the one in New York, pre-renovation, so he knew Tierney’s taste quite well. “He calls it pilgrim-y,” she says, with a laugh. “She has a rigorous aesthetic,” explains Stuno. “She likes beautiful things, but is very practical about it—there’s no pretentiousness at all."

When her schedule permitted, the two went on shopping trips, procuring light fixtures from Apparatus, rugs from ABC Carpet & Home, and many of the hero pieces from RH and Wyeth—or, “Wyeth it so expensive?” as they came to jokingly call it. They are accented with vintage finds picked up at flea markets or on 1stdibs, as well as Tierney’s quite personal art collection. Aside from the many photographs she has taken on her global travels, she also possesses a wealth of works given to her by friends and family; they all have been given pride of place on her walls.

Inside Actor Maura Tierney’s Reinvented West Village Town House

There is a hearty simplicity to actor Maura Tierney’s design aesthetic, as exemplified by the living area of her West Village town house—a space sparingly filled with comfortable pieces and lots of personal art. “Nothing is done for the sake of doing it,” says her designer, L.A.-based Michael Angelo Stuno.
With its trio of oversized windows and airy feel, the living area was the model for Tierney’s renovation. “I wanted the rest of the house to have that openness,” she explains. Even still, there was a fair share of work done to it, including exposing the beams and installing bookshelves, which Stuno designed. It is decorated with an RH couch, a Hans Wegner rosewood coffee table, a rug from ABC Carpet & Home, and vintage Italian swivel chairs found on 1stdibs and redone in a cut velvet fabric from Brentano. The lighting is by Apparatus.
The fireplace in the living area was one of the things that convinced Tierney to buy the house. Originally brick, it was given a sleek plaster makeover by Kamp Studios’ Kim Collins. Work by Cindy Sherman rests atop it.
Among Tierney’s many clever design ideas was to repurpose old beams from the house into kitchen countertops. “You can do anything on them—they’re not precious at all,” she says. The shelves were custom built by Olde Good Things in New York, and the wallpaper, which extends into the dining area, is Madison and Grow.
For more formal gatherings, she moves to the dining room, which is outfitted with a De La Espada walnut table from the Future Perfect and Erik Buch teak chairs from MidcenturyLA that have been recovered in a green suede fabric from Kravet. The light fixture is from Apparatus. “I bring all my clients to their studio,” says Stuno. “I can’t help myself—I love them.”
While the notion of bathing outdoors in New York City might seem unappealing, Tierney contends it’s “heaven.” But then, her outdoor shower, which was built (on her suggestion) where an air shaft had been, and outfitted with Moroccan tiles and a copper Newport Brass showerhead, is a strikingly unique setup. “Even when it’s snowing outside, it gets steamy in there,” she says. “It’s glorious,” concurs Stuno.
“I wanted it to be really simple, and have only special things,” says Tierney of the master bedroom. So while—despite Stuno’s efforts—it is without unnecessary flourishes like decorative pillows or even a rug, it is filled with meaningful art and her favorite books. The tree image was taken by Kristina Loggia. (“I don’t get tired of looking at it,” she says). The ‘Chaste’ street art was given to her by a friend, and the pair of black-and-white photos are by Reed Rudy.
Bathrooms are big in Tierney’s home, both spatially and impact-wise. The master bath—a wet room outfitted in Calcutta marble—features a wall size mosaic inscribed by the artist Jennifer Seastone with the words It was not a scorpion I asked for I asked for a fish. It is the first line of Tierney’s favorite poem “Closing Time; Iskandariya” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, which she came across years ago and was immediately transfixed by. “I thought it would be nice to wake up to it every morning,” she says. The rosary beads are from the Vatican. “I’m not religious, but I like Catholic iconography,” she explains.
The hallway leading to the guest bedroom initially had sliding wood doors painted the same color as the wall. “It was boring to me,” says Tierney, who hired a local craftsman to create the current wood-and-glass ones that hide the washer/dryer. The black lacquer entry table, based off a Tommi Parzinger piece, was designed by Stuno.
The guest room is a simple, comfortable space filled with smart, practical pieces like the dresser from Wyeth. The works on the wall—a painting from George Rodrigue’s blue dog series and a print given to Tierney by her best friend from college—are just a couple pieces from her personal and quite eclectic art collection.
Where there had just been the roof, Tierney built a sitting area and an office. With its camel-colored [RH](https://www.restorationhardware.com/) couches, the calming space is where Tierney has coffee in the morning—and entertains at night. The vintage coffee table, found on [1stdibs](https://www.1stdibs.com), raises up for dinner parties. “It’s just a pretty place to chill out,” she says.
Pre-renovation, the terrace was just a tar pit. Tierney transformed it into an urban oasis with teak RH couches and plantings by the landscape designer John Wysocki. “You can see the Empire State Building from up there, which always warms my heart,” she says.
An avid photographer, Tierney uses her office—which is decorated with a desk from Design Within Reach, a chair from Knoll, and vintage glass-and-chrome shelving from Obsolete in L.A.—for printing her photographs.
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While the overall look of the house is a kind of hearty simplicity, it is not without flourish—particularly when it comes to the bathrooms. “They’re essentially just showers,” notes Tierney, which is to say, immensely striking wet rooms. The master bath, for instance, possesses a marble wall with the first line of her favorite poem (“Closing Time; Iskandariya” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly) writ large. While the adjacent outdoor shower appears out of a Moroccan fantasy, it gets more use than one would expect. “Even when it’s raining or snowing, it’s heaven in there,” she says. And after long days of shooting, such luxuries are essential. “That’s the thing,” she says, “as stressful as the renovation was, the house is so pretty now, and relaxing.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest