Downton Abbey Director Michael Engler Puts His Penthouse On The Market For $5 Million

Despite the strong aesthetic of the show, his penthouse is surprisingly modern.

By Annette Barlow September 15, 2016
All photos courtesy of Stribling

Anyone who has spent the last five years watching Brit period drama Downton Abbey would naturally expect some of the turn-of-the-century sensibilities to have seeped into series director Michael Engler’s personal taste. Perhaps a penchant for all things feathered? A lust for polished oak? A keen eye for brocade?

Well, according to the current listing for his New York penthouse, apparently not. The duplex, located at Chelsea’s luxurious condo complex 263 Ninth Avenue, is a masterclass in understated modernist elegance; all light-flooded rooms, white walls and meticulously selected furnishings.

Related: Birth of the Cool: NYC’s Jazz Greats Lived In Some of Slickest Cribs In Town

The one-time Sex and the City director bought the apartment in 2006 with his husband, broker Steven Sumser, for $2.5 million, and the new $5 million price tag seems to reflect the extensive work the couple put into the space. They hired architect Roy McMakin of Domestic Architecture to renovate the interiors—his trademark clean, white palette marries perfectly with the bright 2,250-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath property.

Engler’s luxury NYC condo

On the first floor, the south-facing, open-plan living room—featuring 12-foot beamed ceilings—flows directly into the generous dining room, where an eight-seater table and industrial chandelier dominate the space. The kitchen—roomy by New York standards—nestles around the corner, and showcases a Big Leaf Maple island, complete with custom pendant lights, and a colossal 48-inch double oven Viking stove. This kitchen means business.

A den and multi-purpose guest room are also located on the first floor, while the large master suite occupies the majority of the second floor. Although the bedroom is understated and modest in much the same vein as the rest of the apartment, the bathroom can’t help but boast all the bells and whistles, with its deep soaker tub, separate shower and bath. A small kitchenette sits at the top of the stairs to the second floor, just inside the patio doors, while a sublime 1,000-square-foot south-and-west-facing terrace wraps itself around the building outside.

Labeled the “garden in the sky” by the broker (Sumser himself), vines drape themselves languorously over the seating area, where a sectional sofa sits beneath the shade of established trees and shrubs. A huge dining area can be found at the other end of the terrace, complete with a built-in grill (almost as big as the downstairs stove) and draping ivy climbing the walls.

Engler’s luxury NYC condo

And if that doesn’t sound idyllic enough, the building also comes with a 24-hour doorman, a full-time superintendent and a common roof deck (in case 1,000-square -feet isn’t quite enough for you). There is one period detail that Engler did sneak into his apartment, however: the solid oak floors throughout. We bet that tiptoeing to the kitchen on these creaking floorboards early morning would make anybody feel as if they time-traveled to the turn-of-the-century old-fashioned abbey.

Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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