This Fashion Designer's Maximalist Apartment Is Lavish Yet Livable

Dennis Basso's collected home celebrates the best of life.

Minimalism has its place. That place is not in Dennis and Michael Basso's New York City apartment. "I couldn't live in a modern, clean-lined home," Dennis says. "I have so many things I love. I couldn't live without all of the memories they hold."

china festive dining room gold
Kelly Marshall

When he sees the 18th-century carved pedestals in the dining room, Dennis also sees his beloved Aunt Rhonda. When he places heirloom china on the table, he remembers cherished time spent with Michael's grandmother. When he sets out an inherited tea service, he sees his own dear mother.

gold christmas table china decor
Kelly Marshall

Places set with Francis 1 sterling flatware and gilded china from Michael Basso's family collection furnish a festive tone in a dining room illuminated by a circa-1850 French chandelier and sterling candlesticks from Brooke Astor's estate.

"These things, this house—it's all part of us," Dennis says. "Each thing reminds us of a moment at a favorite little antiques shop or with a special person in our lives. From the smallest spoon to the largest serving tray, I can tell you where each piece is from. Generational things add to the feeling of a house, give it warmth and personality. They remind me that life has been a fun journey."

door wreath Dennis Basso suit
Kelly Marshall

Fashion designer Dennis Basso ensures the vestibule is well-dressed with painted panels from Gracie Studio.

For 30 years, Dennis and Michael have added to the wealth of memories made in this home, a maisonette in a 1929 building by noted architect Emery Roth. "There's a joy to living in a house with prewar architecture and with Central Park as a front garden," Dennis says. "In two seconds we can be in the park with our miniature schnauzers, Lucy and Sam, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's a marvelous environment."

Foyer Eighteenth-century carved chairs
Kelly Marshall

Eighteenth-century carved-wood gilt side chairs from Bernard Steinitz offer a seat near Napoleon III bronze urns from Didier Aaron.

When the Christmas season comes and snow decorates the park with a festive mantle, the mood is just as merry inside. "The holidays are very important to us," Dennis says. "Michael loves to cook, and I love to entertain. We're both Italian-Americans, so on Christmas Eve, we do the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I prepare an elaborate holiday dining table set with antique china and stemware. We go full-on Christmas."

A palette of gold, white, and silver rich with reflective elements complements the home's year-round aesthetic of traditional forms and hues, spiked with jewel-box colors. "The house is old school with a modern twist," Dennis says. "We've decorated three times over the years we've lived here, each time with designer Kenneth Alpert, who created an amazing background for the things we've collected."

A fashion designer who has dressed celebrities as different as Elizabeth Taylor and Michelle Obama, Dennis has an eye for beauty that Alpert, a longtime friend, easily builds on. "It's a collaboration of Dennis' dreams and my know-how," Alpert says. "We've been friends for more than 30 years. At this point in our decorating relationship, we finish each other's sentences."

living room coffee table ottoman
Kelly Marshall

A custom sofa from A Rudin, an ottoman from Donghia, and a vintage coffee table from Nancy Corzine contribute to a traditional design scheme rich with shapely silhouettes and sumptuous fabrics.

Antiques include both family heirlooms and antique finds such as a Louis XVI demilune chest and William Haines side chairs. The 1920s fireplace mantel is Italian.

The apartment's latest reimagination speaks to today's style of living. "It's still Dennis' look but in a slightly newer, cleaner iteration," Alpert says. "We replaced some things, recovered some pieces in fresh fabric, simplified window treatments, and lightened the whole look."

Lighter, however, doesn't mean inelaborate. "Dennis entertains often and lavishly," Alpert says. "The spaces have to do more than look beautiful. They also have to function. The focus is on how a space is going to work when it's being used to entertain. It's wonderful how many people actually get to experience the apartment."

gold christmas table china decor
Kelly Marshall

"I love a black-and-white kitchen," Dennis says. A dash of pattern adds energy to the bright and sunny cooking space where shutters open to reveal the beauty of New York's Central Park. The breakfast nook features a table and chairs from TK Collections and china from Villeroy & Boch.

living room patterns neutral walls
Kelly Marshall

A faux-fur throw from Dennis' collection for QVC adds a final layer of warmth to the cozy space, where a 1940s brass coffee table from Carlton Davidson London adds sparkle.

green living room artwork sofa
Kelly Marshall

The deep emerald green of this cozy retreat "makes you feel like you're in a jewel box," Dennis says. He chose a prime spot over the tufted sofa for a striking work by artist James Rosenquist. Chippendale stools and a hand-painted 1930s Chinese coffee table round out the space.

master bedroom headboard bedding
Kelly Marshall

Fashion shows its influence in the bedroom, where a houndstooth headboard designed by Kenneth Alpert complements custom-embroidered bedding from Schweitzer Linen. Crystal-and-bronze table lamps are circa 1950 from Carlton Davidson London.

black white bathroom pattern gold marble
Kelly Marshall

The classic combo of black and white reappears in the bath, made even more luxurious with splashes of gold and walls of lightly veined marble from Shelly Tile.

Seated in the comfortable living room, guests enjoy a glimpse of Dennis and Michael's extensive art collection, featuring works from such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, and Henry Moore hung salon-style to fill the neutral walls with captivating beauty. In the mahogany-paneled dining room, meanwhile, they savor a table set with collected silver, crystal, and china. "The house has a formal look, but everything is comfortable and nothing is here just to be on display," Dennis says. "We use everything. It's about taking old-world ideas and giving them a modern twist. We live in a very modern way."

Treasured antiques mingle with family heirlooms. At Christmas, even simple ornaments from Dennis and Michael's childhoods join the decorative backdrop for what's most important—gatherings with beloved family and friends. "Welcoming people into our home," Dennis says, "is the most beautiful thing of all."

Updated by
Krissa Rossbund

Krissa Rossbund is the style and design editor at Traditional Home. She covers decor, entertaining, and home tours and has experience writing about all kinds of design styles, from boho to nautical.

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