Woody Allen, his wife,Soon-Yi Previn, and their two young daughters have downsized, moving from a huge house in Carnegie Hill to a smaller one in one of Manhattan’s loveliest side streets. Set in New York’s Upper East Side, Allen had always admired this street, the same block where he shot some scenes for Annie Hall more than 30 years ago. His new place is at least a century old and grandly proportioned, but it may not feel that way, as the family cheerfully gave up about half their former square footage. Allen now works in a frugal corner of the master bedroom. Between the windows is an old turntable on which he plays his beloved LPs.

Let's step into his American and English country style house. And do pause for a while and let me know if this is what you expected.

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The entrance hall, as throughout, is filled with pieces Allen has owned for decades.


An antique sign is set off by a vintage-style wallcovering in the living room.


Works by Robert Rauschenberg, left, and Ed Ruscha hang in the living room, along with naive paintings of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.


Designer Stephen Shandley recalls: “We’d stand at the entrance to a room; he’d plant his feet, and the room was arranged from that point of view. It was very cinematic. I’m always running around looking at every angle.”


“It’s a real writer’s library,” notes Shadley. “It’s a mixture of paperbacks and hardbacks, and they’re all worn at the edges; you know, of course, he’s read every one.” On the mohair-covered sofa and the pair of circa 1930s French club chairs is an eclectic assortment of needlepoint pillows. Above the mantel is a circa 1840 American painted pine tavern sign attributed to Rufus Porter.


The second-floor landing is richly decorated with a marble mantelpiece and a pair of plush red velvet armchairs. “The house is not abnormally wide, but it feels so spacious,” says Shadley. “There are no halls; it’s just room to room to room.”


An arrangement of framed samplers—“most of them 19th century,” comments the designer—hang on a wall in the master bedroom. Napoleon III architect’s cabinet.


“That’s where he works,” Shadley says of a desk in a corner of the bedroom. “He still types with his first typewriter. He types his screenplays—that or longhand; he’d never consider using a computer.”
Allen types his screenplays and fiction on the 1951 Olympia portable that he’s had since he went to Midwood High School. Stephen Shadley, the Allens’ designer, points to the hooked rug—a piece of vintage Americana—on the wall that Allen stares at day in and out. “It’s a metaphor for Woody’s mind,” he says. The subject is a beehive.

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Images and information from Architectural Digest.
Interior Design by Stephen Shadley
Photography by Scott Frances
 
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