Location North Flushing
Rent $1675/mo. (market)
Square feet 1500
Occupants Catherine Zanelli (director of business development, Invisible Ink); Arthur Zanelli (exercise physiologist, Cardiovascular Fitness Center, J.P. Morgan Chase)
Your 1920s neo-Tudor complex is one of the billion places in Queens that, if you squint, look like a medieval village. Do you know how many leaded windows there are in Queens? How about all those curving brick paths that just sing with happiness? I read that in the States, all this madness for Tudor architecture was a dilution of 19th-century planned communities in Britain: William Morris, Ebenezer Howard, and the “garden city”—longings for a harmonious, pre-industrial past without capitalism or grim squalor. According to one model-village builder, such a social program would make the family members “sober, peaceable, and considerate of the feelings . . . of each other.” Of course, all this talk of social reform through half-timbering didn’t mean people didn’t have their tortured thoughts going on beneath a high, pitched roof, thatched or not. [Catherine] Yes, but everything about this place is relaxing.
I did sort of calm down when I walked in. Now I’m sleepy. Let’s get up from your vast, circular beige leather couch and go on a tour. What’s that gold-and-black bas-relief of a couple in a chariot? That’s Ben-Hur. I stole it. It was my dad’s. He loves history. He named my brother Thomas Jefferson. Here are the very first boards we broke. Arthur and I study martial arts. You break boards when you do belt-testing. Mine are split straight in the middle. I have better aim. [Arthur] I’m stronger. [Catherine] Here’s the china cabinet. I stole it from my mom. We just got married. It’s hard starting out. [Arthur] Here’s the one plant she hasn’t killed. I’m a little worried about having children. Be careful you don’t fall over the balcony. The railing’s a little low. [Catherine] My friend said it’s a Juliet balcony. Like Romeo and Juliet. We throw things down at each other. The ceiling is two stories. It’s a pain to change a lightbulb. [Arthur] We had this party. Everyone wanted to swing from the chandelier. [Catherine] We didn’t break too many things. [Arthur] We did shots, Korean rice wine. It was our tae kwon do friends. [Catherine] This apartment was burned to the ground years ago. The former owners redid everything from scratch. I got it two years ago. I’d looked for three or four months. It was kind of like a second job.
Achoo! Achoo! [Arthur] The reason you’re probably sneezing is the whole back area is full of trees.
It is really suburban around here. Is that strange for you? [Catherine] No, we both came from around here. Arthur in Bayside, me in Flushing, but we met in midtown at a sports club. I’m 30, Arthur’s 32. Whoever designed this duplex was really smart. You don’t need air-conditioning. In winter, it doesn’t get freezing cold. [Arthur] We have a lot of people over. We both have big families. My father comes every Saturday at 2:30 to watch soccer.
Your neighbor Patti Gintel—she’s in advertising sales—said on the phone, “The neighborhood is kind of shhhh. Nobody knows about it. My apartment is so gorgeous. You’re going to flip when you see my bathroom. All the neighbors are young and fabulous. Next door are two sisters; one works for a dentist. Across the street, there’s a big Tudor mansion; a big psychiatrist operates his practice out of there. But the patients all look normal.” [Catherine] Patti’s great. We met on the street when there was a big fire. A car was speeding, lost control, and crashed into a neighbor’s car. They both exploded. [Arthur] People think they can just blow stop signs. [Catherine] The whole neighborhood came to the corner. Everybody was crying. We thought the man was inside the car, but he flew out the window.