Forget all the hackneyed puns about living in the fast lane and running the good race. When seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife, Chandra, get time away from the speedway, the fetching young couple like to slow things down and enjoy life with their two angelic daughters, six-year-old Evie and three-year-old Lydia. Although home base for the family is Charlotte, North Carolina, the Johnsons decamp to their New York City pied-à-terre—a chic, sun-filled aerie hard by the glittering Hudson River—whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“I was living in Manhattan when Jimmie and I met. Fortunately, he loves the city, too, so we’ve always had a place here,” says Chandra, a former model with a keen passion for design and contemporary art. “The West Village is heaven. It’s a really romantic neighborhood, and it feels the closest to living in Europe.”
The couple planted their flag in the West Village in 2009, but when Chandra got pregnant with Lydia, in 2013, they moved to a larger apartment in the same building. Enter Shawn Henderson, the square-jawed AD100 interior designer who has worked closely with the Johnsons since 2007 on the family’s homes in New York, Tulsa (Chandra was raised in Oklahoma), and, most recently, Aspen, Colorado.
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“It’s been amazing to watch Chandra’s taste evolve,” Henderson says. “She’s become so much more knowledgeable about design, so the process is now a true collaboration. She drives me to be more creative, which I love.”
For the Jimmie Johnson latest Manhattan abode, the initial client-designer brainstorming sessions had surprisingly little to do with color, fabrics, or paintings. “We just talked about how Jimmie and I live with our children, the way we like to entertain—basically, the life we want to lead,” Chandra recalls.
In practical terms, those discussions resulted in a flexible floor plan in which the dining room and kitchen can be open or closed to the living room and its dazzling river views, depending on the day’s activities. The capacious living area, which is divided into two seating groups, has a decidedly loftlike feel, airy and inviting. Chandra and Henderson outfitted the room with a range of vintage treasures, including Charlotte Perriand stools, Jacques Quinet cocktail tables, lighting by Serge Mouille and Jacques Adnet, a Hans Wegner lounge chair, and an Edward Wormley sofa upholstered in yellow velvet. “I fell in love with that mustardy color, and we decided that would be the main pop of color,” Henderson explains.
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The palette for the rest of the furnish- ings remains fairly neutral, and the envelope, save for the oak-paneled study and strategic accent walls, is crisp and white—all the better to display artworks from the Johnsons’ growing collection.
To keep things fresh, Chandra likes to rotate pieces from home to home. Currently, the stars of the show in New York are a squiggly Sol LeWitt painting and sculptures by Donald Judd and John Chamberlain in the living room; a legend- ary 1960s Horst P. Horst image of artist Cy Twombly and his wife, Tatiana, that adorns the study; and, in the dining room, Adieu, a massive Julian Schnabel canvas from 1996, the year Chandra graduated from high school and left Muskogee.
Still, despite the fancy pedigrees of the art and furniture, the vibe at the Johnson home remains distinctly family-friendly and free-spirited. When Evie and Lydia aren’t playing make-believe in their pink bedroom, the girls might easily be driving go-karts through the hallways or racing slot cars on a toy track in the living room. And what about Jimmie’s contributions to this sprightly domestic scene? “Jimmie’s more interested in the bones of the space and how the layout works,” Chandra says. “He’s not picking fabrics.”
Source: Architectural Digest
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