Tiana Tenet was averaging long days and grueling weekends at a Wall Street institution when she decided it was time to pivot.
The Culinistas's co-founder had only ever lived in Midtown, New York, with the proximity to the office being its primary selling point.
"I never had the opportunity to explore other neighborhoods," Tenet points out, matter-of-factly. "Venturing into the entrepreneurial world gave me the opportunity to reset my personal life and I knew I wanted to move downtown where it was more quaint and had a little character. The cobblestone streets in SoHo reminded me of my favorite years at Georgetown, so I narrowed down the apartment search and started looking for apartments from there."
Nowadays, midtown feels comfortably far away. Follow your nose to SoHo, wait for the ping of an elevator door, and you've arrived. Greeted by an entire floor, complete with 14-foot ornate ceilings and sun-soaked factory windows. The entrepreneur admits she's self-styled her two-bedroom, 2,202-square-foot apartment, opting for washes of navy blue paint, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, and a transitional style code throughout.
For an entrepreneur with a background in finance that built a business out of "having no time to cook" it seems only fitting that Tenet's home is an exercise in piecing together statement furniture by her favorite retailers. Tenet decorates the open space with a blend of Jonathan Adler, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware, peppered with sentimental graduation gifts like the commissioned work of art from her now husband, John. With more time now spent at home and a dramatically different schedule, Tenet makes a conscious effort to cultivate a space that's luxe-yet-livable and a welcome change of pace from the city below.
"My business partner Jill Donenfeld and I came together in 2017 and started The Culinistas, with a mission to bring people back to the table and make it easier to enjoy home-cooked meals, together," explains Tenet, when asked how the idea came to fruition. "We both grew up eating around the dinner table and it has helped shape us to be who we are today — we’re committed to helping more families do so."
Unlike traditional in-house chef offerings, The Culinistas personalize and democratize the process, from end-to-end. The duo pair couples and families with local chefs that resonate with their own food ethos and approach. No longer strictly reserved for society's upper-echelon or Hollywood celebrities, the weekly service includes six dishes that can be mixed and matched, staggered out across three-to-four meals throughout the busy work week. Tiered weekly offerings start at $250 for a small household, excluding groceries, and $1,000 for special occasion meals or dinner parties.
Menus are curated by the client, produce is plucked from the local farmers market, and free-range meat is sourced as close to home as you can get it. In essence, you're enjoying all of the perks of sustainable, healthy home-cooked meals with an emphasis on shopping local, with none of the heavy lifting. Did we mention your chef will do the washing up and stack your fridge?
"Each week, clients select six different dishes from our rotating weekly menu," Tenet begins, unpacking the process. "The menu includes soups, salads, veggies, proteins and desserts. Dishes are meant to be mixed and matched — so clients can get creative while putting dinner on the table each night."
In Tenet's own apartment, the kitchen island anchors the entire floor. It's a space readily in use and one of the first areas you see, a place to congregate, unwind, and evidently come together. This year, Tenet explains she's cooking the entire Christmas meal — "I have a lot of food prep containers," she notes — playing host to visiting friends and family.
"Staying in is the new going out, and some of my favorite nights are spent here at home, sharing a cheese board and a bottle of delicious red wine," she emphatically explains. "The laughs and the late night conversations are what life is all about."
Despite being spoiled for space, Tenet remains mindful of how she uses it. The dining area, sitting adjacent to the Caesarstone-clad kitchen island, features a Jonathan Adler dining table, surrounded by upholstered Anthropologie dining chairs. Playful portraits line the couple's navy blue walls, as if to give the space a sense of elevated formality, a nod to traditions past. There's a ritualistic approach to dinner time that Tenet upholds, there's no squatting over the sofa while inhaling takeout between stints at the office, not anymore, anyway. Tenet is trying to reinstate that little bit of artistry to coming together and breaking bread — whether or not you're responsible for actually food prepping is beside the point.
"Separating a wide open space into different "rooms" was definitely a challenge," Tenet explains of her approach to styling. "I knew I wanted a living room, dining room, and media room without putting up any walls, so I had to use furniture and design to draw the separation. It was difficult at first, so I gradually added pieces to each room until they felt complete and unique in their own ways."
The long and narrow space stretches out, complete with an oversized gray modular sofa by Restoration Hardware cleverly creating a cozy hub to relax and unwind. Toward the factory windows, a built-in bookshelf awash in Benjamin Moore's In the Midnight Hour anchors the sitting room, a place you could thumb through a book, sip a cup of tea, and watch the world go by. It's SoHo, after all, the people watching doesn't get much better.
Neighboring a glittering Christmas tree — worthy of its own department store display — is Tenet's converted study, complete with a pop of playful Hygge & West wallpaper. The couple drew inspiration from their favorite New York haunts, like the nearby Crosby Street Hotel, to bring character and charm to stark white walls. Tenet opts for non-traditional decor when it comes to getting her space holiday ready, choosing ornaments and gilded decorations that feel like a natural extension of her personal style.
"Our Christmas tree is whimsical and untraditional," Tenet muses. "I have more food ornaments than Christmas balls and many of the ornaments tell a story or reflect something we love. This year, we added some new favorites — Italian cookies, a cheese stack, and a stick of cotton candy."
Among Tenet's more permanent decor is a blush pink buffet table by Anthropologie, situated between the lounge and master bedroom. An oversized, statuesque print by Glen Allsop in a glossy white frame completes the understated vignette, finished with an oversized Turkish rug.
It's in the study and master bedroom where Tenet showcases her penchant for pattern, dressing the walls in Hygge & West wallpaper and stacking floating shelves with uniformed Juniper Books. Ballpoint blue velvet drapes by Restoration Hardware cozy up the transitional space, complete with a tufted gray chaise and gingham throw, sourced via Hildreth's.
"We wanted a home that made us smile, and we always had that feeling at the Crosby Street Hotel," Tenet explains. "The playful combination of color made me happy and I wanted to experience that same feeling on a daily basis."
The master bedroom — featuring a four-poster bed by Holly Hunt and more rolls of whimsical wallpaper — feels ultimately layered yet not totally out of reach. Classic piped bedding by New York-based Hill House Home and an Hermès blanket dress the bed, while an acrylic luggage rack by CB2 completes the vibe. A neighboring side table — another find from Restoration Hardware — and a decorative series of Fornasetti plates bring a dreamlike, fantastical quality to the most intimate of spaces. As the city outside speeds up, short on time and in a perpetual state of hurry — Tenet's apartment feels a world away.
"I definitely took risks with the design and there were many times when I thought "ugh, this is going to fail" but I saw and believed in the greater vision and kept iterating until I made it work," she explains. "It didn't start out perfectly, but that's the fun part."