LES Abode: At Home With Tom Cappa

The old mingles with the new in nearly every room: Tom Cappa's living room shows off a 1900's penny scale, a hundred year old ice box and a flat screen TV. Cappa controls music, lighting and security from an iPad affixed to a wall by the front door.

The old mingles with the new in nearly every room: Tom Cappa’s living room shows off a 1900’s penny scale, a hundred year old ice box and a flat screen TV. Cappa controls music, lighting and security from an iPad affixed to a wall by the front door.

This is the first installment in an occasional series exploring interesting Lower East Side homes. This piece originally ran in our May, 2014 magazine. All photos by Mark La Rosa.

Tom Cappa has his feet planted in two worlds: His meticulously renovated apartment boasts 21st-century modern comforts and an extensive collection of early 20th-century antiques. A resident of the Seward Park Cooperative on Grand Street for 12 years, Cappa is an avid collector of vintage pieces. His apartment, created two years ago by combining a 2-bedroom and 1-bedroom, pays homage to a simpler time when shoe shines were available on nearly every corner and seltzer came in glass bottles.

Cappa, 46, finds these rare items at auction, on the street, at antique stores and markets, salvage firms and in houses and apartments that are under renovation. He’s collected vintage items for most of his life: “I love the 1920’s, nostalgia and history,” he says. “I [also] love the history and character of the Lower East Side,” Cappa explains. “You’re living in Manhattan with a neighborhood feel that most of Manhattan doesn’t have.”

Cappa2 Photo by Mark La Rosa

The entryway boasts a custom made stained glass window, mannequins from Paris, an old fire extinguisher and an early 1900’s shoe shine box.

 

Cappa4 Photo by Mark La Rosa

The dining room includes a candy store cash register, an early 1900’s type-writer, a parking meter head from the 1920’s, a 1970’s Pachinko machine and an old fashioned phone booth.

Cappa3 Photo by Mark La Rosa

When he travels, Cappa brings back hand carved walking canes from around the world (seen above under his idol, Frank Sinatra.

cappa5 Photo by Mark La Rosa

The bedroom, with custom-designed 30-year ebony and birds eye maple floors, striking soffit ceilings and custom-made pocket doors, features two old fashioned barber’s chairs and a refurbished barber’s pole that cranks right up.

cappa7 photo by Mark La Rosa