What I Love: Lynn Ahrens and Her Little House in the Sky



But after nearly 25 years, Ms. Ahrens and Mr. Costa, who married in 1989, decided it was time to move on, to an adult building — that is to say, a building with a doorman and reliable vertical transportation. What they wanted, as they explained to their real estate broker, was the downtown twin of a Midtown apartment owned by a close friend.

Name: Lynn Ahrens

Occupation Lyricist and librettist Age 68Dollars for Décor “We sold a lot of our furniture to the people who bought our loft. Later, somebody sent me an advertisement for a rental from a real estate company. It was a picture of our loft with our furniture, and they were charging something like $30,000 a month.”

“We had no desire to live in Midtown, but we loved that apartment,” Ms. Ahrens said.

The good news: A week later, the broker reported back that she had found just such an apartment. The bad news: The apartment was in Midtown, in fact in their friend’s very building.

“Our broker told us we had to see it immediately, that it would be gone by the afternoon,” Ms. Ahrens said. “So we dropped whatever we were doing and ran over.”

Despite the location, they weren’t sorry. The apartment, a freshly renovated three-bedroom penthouse, had their name all over it. “There was a fireplace, and I love a fireplace,” Ms. Ahrens said. “There was a wraparound terrace that was already filled with mature plants, and my husband and I are gardeners. Plus, there was beautiful light. It had this little-house-in-the-sky kind of feeling.”

Even so, when they moved in 15 years ago, there was a period of adjustment after loft living. “For a little while, I wandered around going, ‘Oh. Rooms. Oh. Walls,’” she said.

The couple toned down two of those walls from maroon to cream and refaced the black brick fireplace, alterations that were in line with their new aesthetic.

“Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten old, but I wanted peaceful, not such a downtown artsy feeling,” Ms. Ahrens said. “In the loft, we had leather furniture that was bright orange, and I loved it. There were a lot of paintings on the wall that were bright. When we got into Midtown, I wanted to let it chill in terms of palette.” Thus: microsuede sofas and basket-weave accent chairs that are cushioned in earth tones.

The feeling is restful but not sedate. This is thanks in large part to the many pieces of folk art: the cow and the birdhouse on the mantel; the wooden black-and-white cat on the coffee table that resembles Ms. Ahrens’s late cat, Alfie; the model of a building that sits atop an antique farm cupboard; and a life-size wooden chef standing sentry in a corner of the dining room, holding menus from the couple’s travels.

Theater posters, opening-night gifts, awards, framed letters (among them, an admiring note from Stephen Sondheim) and other career signifiers are generally confined to Ms. Ahrens’s office. One exception is an enamel, pearl-studded music box tucked into a bookshelf in the living room. A key plot point of the 1997 animated musical film “Anastasia,” it was a gift from 20th Century Fox, which produced the movie.

Soon after the couple moved into the apartment, they planted a weeping birch tree on the terrace. All grown up now, it frames the small seating area. “There’s actually a little ecosystem out here,” Ms. Ahrens said. “Robins have nested here. A cardinal hatched. It makes us happy to watch things fly in and out.”

She and her husband also have a fine view of some other shows: the fireworks on the Fourth of July and the footwork across the way at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Ms. Ahrens is a staunch believer in catnaps. No better tonic for her than a daily 20-minute snooze. “It helps me do what I do,” she said.

“The first time I lay on the couch in this apartment, I saw the wall of books and I saw my piano and I saw my plants on the terrace and a view of the kitchen. It was the hub of all the things I’m interested in and all the things I love to do. And I thought, ‘Ah, I’ve arrived exactly where I’m meant to be — right here.’”

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