Downsizing from a 7,000sf family home in Westchester to a two bedroom post war Manhattan apartment demands a vast number of practical decisions with considerable emotional impact.
Our clients embarked on this transition with some trepidation. A primary source for that… the apartment they purchased o ered no hint of any potential. It was located in a ubiquitous Upper Eastside 60’s white brick building; one of those buildings characterized by 8 foot ceilings, aluminum windows, poor quality finishes and a dearth of sunlight. However, it did have one thing going for it: an outdoor terrace the new owners were allowed to enclose and thereby annex to the living space.
Our clients requested the apartment have a contemporary urban feel and be suitable for large family gatherings. Thoughtful storage solutions were a must. All existing furniture was negotiable… if a piece worked it would come, and if not, it would be sent to storage, given away or sold. The only thing that had to be accommodated was the art collection they had assembled over many years.
Our first task was to develop a plan to connect the outdoor terrace to the interior space. To do that we removed the original sliding glass doors and aligned the ceiling and floor heights. We covered the exterior brick with sheetrock and to enhance the feeling of spaciousness, opted for floor-to-ceiling glass. Recessed power- operated shades were installed for evening privacy. We furnished the space with a built-in chaise and two leather Poltrona Frau lounge chairs. Radiant heat was installed in the floor to insure cold weather comfort.
To showcase the owners’ art as well as provide storage we designed millwork to wrap around the living room. At a height of 42 inches, it accommodates sculpture on its long top shelf and in steel-lined niches below. To accommodate overflow seating, an upholstered leather bench was integrated into the cabinetry.
The wall separating the kitchen and dining room was removed and replaced with an oversized serving counter. Millwork at one end of
the kitchen screens a utility closet accommodating washer and dryer.
A 65 inch wall hung tv in the den was centered on the custom sectional sofabed. A co ee table on concealed wheels was designed to match the cabinetry and roll away when the sofabed was opened.
To optimize storage, the master bedroom was completely built-in. A closet separates dressing area from sleeping. the backside is upholstered and serves as the headboard. Opposite the bed is a full wall of cabinetry incorporating desk, filing cabinets, bookshelves, TV, as well as a large wood sculpture that formerly hung in the owners’ living room.
To achieve a light bright floor that could serve as a background to the art we chose a 24 inch square terrazzo tile. It was used throughout the apartment except in the den and master bedroom where floors were carpeted.
Two wood finishes were combined: a rich walnut to add warmth and a light finish TABU veneer. Accents are blackened steel and charcoal-colored quartz. We incorporated several furniture pieces from the owners’ previous home. The living room carpet was resized and the sofa and chairs reupholstered in a neutral palette.
The renovation took six months to complete and resulted in a dramatic change. Aside from the windows it is di cult to recognize the apartment’s provenance. It reflects our clients’ passion for art and recasts their home as warm and contemporary, which is exactly what they wanted.