text by SHANI SILVER
photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
There are certain spaces (certainly in NYC) where an invite to hang out is nothing short of a golden ticket. Geoff Bartakovics, Co-Founder & CEO atTastingTable.com has one of those homes, and graciously invited us. Impeccably organized and ideal for entertaining, Bartakovics’ home feels styled for real life, rather than simply being styled for style’s sake. Full of treasures illustrative of his personality, this mid-19th century Soho home drew us in, gave us ideas, and made us want to stick around forever. Here’s hoping an invite comes our way again.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OVERALL AESTHETIC?
Comfortable, easy, 10 degrees off-center. Made for non-stop entertaining. I don’t like when guys’ apartments look like they’re trying too hard.
DID YOU DESIGN THIS SPACE YOURSELF? IF SO, WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION?
Yes, but as you can see, I wouldn’t call it “designed.” I brought some meaningful artifacts from previous apartments with me and have been adding (and deleting) furniture, rugs, lamps, and more continuously since I moved in. I’m less concerned that my apartment feel “designed” than that it feel thoughtful and highly functional for the way I live: I work a lot and advise a number of businesses in very different fields; I spend weekdays with clients and business contacts; and I dedicate weekends to hosting friends, friend-quaintances and hangers-on — for pre-games / after-hours cocktails, dinners, cook-outs on the roof, etc. Everything about my place has been laid out and organized to make my life function as effortlessly as possible.
YOU HAVE OUTSTANDING ARTWORK IN YOUR HOME. ANY ADVICE FOR OUR READERS HOPING TO BRING MORE ART INTO THEIR SPACE?
Ha: there’s more “fun crap” than “real art” (by which I “stuff purchased from galleries or artists”). I buy pieces whenever I see something that really makes me smile deeply. Sometimes that’s at an art show. Sometimes that’s at the Housing Works thrift shop (I love 80s style canvases that seem to show up there regularly). Sometimes that’s framing an iphone photo of my dog in a weird, pink foam frame from Ikea. But it’s all mine. So it all means something to me. Which is my advice, I guess: don’t let anyone tell you what your taste should be. Life is long and you have plenty of time to fill your apartment with exactly the pieces that resonate with you. Skip the “decorator’s art” and buy from the heart.
WE MUST HEAR WHERE THE IDEA FOR YOUR (PERFECTLY ORGANIZED!) PEGBOARD CAME FROM!
When my shrink tells me to close my eyes and think of something that brings me happiness, I think of Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums. That should explain it, no?
I constantly forget my keys, wallet, phone, ear phones, gum and/or chapstick, which I usually leave in various pockets when I return home. Makes for a frantic departure the next day. So when I learned that the human brain likes to “fill in blanks,” it occurred to me that I could make a peg board with name plates for all my essentials to encourage my feeble mind to “fill in the blanks” with my stuff every time I come home. And when it’s time to leave again, I simply empty the row of essentials on the board. It actually works despite the amount of OCD eye rolling it inspires in visitors.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ITEM IN YOUR HOME?
The neon sign I just added to my living room. I wanted something illuminated for evening hang-outs — something that smirks with a bit of my cynicism about how we all take our little naval-gazing personal issues too seriously. So I asked the folks at Let There Be Neon in Tribeca to gin up one of my response phrases when someone whines too earnestly about a triviality: “The Key to Happiness is Low Expectations.”
YOUR HOME SEEMS VERY WELL SUITED FOR ENTERTAINING, WAS THAT A FOCUS FOR YOU WHEN YOU WERE DESIGNING YOUR SPACE?
Every time I had a party after moving in, I thought the next morning how it could be less of a pain to set up and less of a pain to clean up. That optimizing resulted in the “party in a cabinet” concept, with everything (including glassware) on acrylic trays from Crate and Barrel that can be easily pulled up to the counter and put to immediate use. Mixers and non-standard glassware above. All the booze that matters just an arm’s length away.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF DESIGNING YOUR SPACE?
The night I moved in, I sat on the roof with a few friends and enjoyed my first outdoor space after 15 years in the city. Apropos low expectations, I remember thinking that maybe happiness is simply your own piece of sky in the middle of Soho.
WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION TO YOUR HOME DECOR THAT YOU’VE HEARD FROM A GUEST (SO FAR)?
I was making small talk with a random guest of a guest at a late-night cocktail party I was hosting, and the guy commented “I’ve heard some shit talking about the dude who lives here, but I like his style. ” I responded in a hushed tone that I had also heard mixed reviews. Then I offered him another drink and my number.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR HOME MAKES YOU THE HAPPIEST?
That it’s the first time in my adult life that I’m not trolling apartment listings for a better place to lay my head at night.
SEE MORE FROM GEOFF AND TASTING TABLE!
TastingTable.com / @geoffbart / @tastingtable on Twitter and Instagram