This simply in: Alison Stewart, the host of the humanities and tradition speak present “All of It” on WNYC, is a self-described stalker.
Ms. Stewart stalks sofas and tables, work and pictures. She stalks buildings, too, which is how she got here to purchase an residence in a Chelsea townhouse greater than 20 years in the past.
“I just became obsessed with it. I knew it was available, and I started walking down the street to look at it. And I would stand across the street and look in the windows at night,” stated Ms. Stewart, 53, who can also be the host of a brand new digital ebook membership partnership between WNYC and the New York Public Library, a group outreach response to the coronavirus.
Except maybe for the loitering-with-intent half, Ms. Stewart’s actual property historical past in New York isn’t notably notable. But probably due to her occupation — she has reported and anchored for MTV, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR and MSNBC — Ms. Stewart is aware of the way to dish up a narrative.
Thus, you get a vivid image of the “weird apartment” she rented together with her greatest pal close to an SRO and a needle park on East 23rd Street when she was contemporary out of faculty and new to town. She expertly conjures the expertise of subletting a sub-Lilliputian residence on the Upper West Side: Vaulting was the one approach to attain the lavatory as soon as the convertible couch was unfolded.
Alison Stewart, 53
Beautiful days within the neighborhood: “It’s too far west to be Union Square. And when I moved here, there was no High Line. The meatpacking district hadn’t become a destination. It was a little bit of a no man’s land, and I liked that.”
Before she ever went inside, what so captivated Ms. Stewart in regards to the lengthy, slim townhouse in Chelsea was its whiff of previous New York. “It looked quaint,” she stated.
The neighborhood was equally interesting. “I liked that it wasn’t precious, that it was a very middle-class street. I thought, ‘This is a place where real people live and raise their kids.’”
But for a superb very long time, Ms. Stewart did nothing however admire the place from afar. The residence — garden-level floor-through with fireplaces, uncovered brick, a sunroom and out of doors house — had been in the marketplace for some time. “But there was no movement on it,” she recalled. “I figured there was something wrong with it. There had to be.”
She realized, when she lastly went to go to, that it was being ill-treated by the tenants, who had been renting from the proprietor. But she may see previous the holes within the partitions, the hillocks of detritus and the unkempt yard. When she went all the way down to the basement, half of which got here with the residence, she may think about the house freed from the garish black-marble-and gold whirlpool tub.
Ms. Stewart purchased the residence, mounted what wanted fixing, yanked out the Jacuzzi, put in a “plain-vanilla bathroom” and fortunately settled in.
Fast ahead 5 years. One of the 2 residences simply above on the parlor ground grew to become obtainable. Ms. Stewart purchased it and had a staircase put in to attach the areas.
A number of years later, after she received married (she and her husband have since break up) and gave beginning to a son, Isaac, Ms. Stewart started stalking her dream residence on Franklin Street.
“I loved it, loved it, loved it. I still visit it online, but I just couldn’t get it together to do anything about it, and the truth is I loved where I was,” stated Ms. Stewart, who, as issues turned out, would quickly have extra to like: She made a really engaging supply to the proprietor of the opposite residence on the parlor ground, who fortunately accepted and cleared out.
Renovation No. three quickly commenced, leaving Ms. Stewart with a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom residence. Renovation No. 4 — putting in new cupboards and a brand new backsplash within the kitchen and upgrading the home equipment — was set to begin in March, however the coronavirus has put the challenge on maintain till the autumn.
The virus additionally implies that Ms. Stewart is broadcasting “All of It” from a nook of the lounge the place a studio has been assembled.
Ms. Stewart’s purchases are as effectively thought out as her on-air discussions. “I’ll see a piece of furniture in a magazine or a store window or online,” she stated. “Whatever it is, I’ll stalk it a little bit.”
Such shadowed objects embody the surfboard-shaped eating desk from Room & Board, a settee that’s at present on order and a smooth digital piano from the Museum of Modern Art Design Store. “I went there and visited it three times before buying,” she stated.
“I’m not someone who can’t make a decision,” Ms. Stewart continued. “It’s just that I only buy things I love.”
Art is amongst these purchases. Works by Elizabeth Catlett, Diane Arbus, Alison Shaw, a photographer on Martha’s Vineyard, are represented in Ms. Stewart’s assortment. She additionally has a much-cherished print of the haunting cowl picture of the ebook “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
As Ms. Stewart stated, she is aware of what she likes. She favors furnishings with easy, clear strains — for instance, the reclaimed-wood desk with steel-pipe legs she discovered on Etsy.
She gravitates towards smooth colours and materials, just like the blue-gray microsuede that covers the 2 love seats. But she isn’t fairly certain how she would outline her aesthetic or her adorning fashion.
Actually, the décor may be summed up in a single phrase: household.
Ms. Stewart’s household is all around the home. They smile and gaze out from image frames, wherever you flip. A slim ledge within the stairwell holds photograph after photograph of her dad and mom, her maternal and paternal grandparents, her great-grandparents and one great-great-grandparent. The built-in cabinets in the lounge show bits of pottery that Ms. Stewart inherited from her mom, books that belonged to her dad and mom, a set of the Harvard Classics (a legacy from her maternal grandfather) and her son’s rock assortment.
On the fireside mantel in the lounge sits a silver cocktail shaker that was a part of the barware on the B & O Railroad. Ms. Stewart’s great-uncle labored as a Pullman porter within the automobile reserved for the president of the road.
“My uncle and my mom were allowed to ride in the car back and forth between Washington and New York,” Ms. Stewart stated. “And the story goes that the president of the railroad gave the shaker to my mom at some point and told her Gloria Swanson used it when she took the car.”
These days, in fact, cocktail hour, if noticed in any respect, is noticed at dwelling. Fine with Ms. Stewart.
“I love being out and about. I love the idea of all the excitement and engagement and flash of the city. But I’m really a homebody, in many ways,” she stated.
“Also, I think for middle-class, trying-to-make-it African-Americans, owning property is of big historical importance,” Ms. Stewart continued. “It’s something people can’t take away from you. For my parents’ generation, that was the big thing: Don’t owe anybody anything. Get your home. Own your home.”
She added: “That’s a big thing for me, too.”