My clients relocated from Marin County, California to New York City for professional reasons. Their requirements for their new home were an apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, with a terrace and plentiful natural light. They wanted to add the warmth, gentle and fun spirit of California to their newly acquired New York experience. An outdoor space to BBQ and relax was a must.
They purchased a 1700 sq. ft. boxy and lineal apartment, which felt very confining, narrow and long. The perimeter rooms had plenty of natural light, in contrast to the interior spaces that were very dark. It also had a terrace with a view of New York City.
As we worked together, our design goals became clear, and my challenges were to trick the eye into feeling the rooms are wider and taller than they are and to allow the perimeter natural light to travel into the interior spaces. Also, since the building is 26 stories high, with numerous apartments, all structural and mechanical elements had to remain unchanged.
I raised parts of the ceiling in sweeping shapes, concealing and avoiding existing beams, ducts and plumbing lines. I carved out the walls around existing structural steel frames, fitting display niches in between while providing transparency from space to space and giving the illusion of larger rooms. Walls became wide columns hiding pipes and structural elements. Long walls at the hallway were enhanced and broken up by wood paneling, while new clerestory windows at the hallway walls allowed the perimeter natural light to travel through the space. For the same purpose, I designed all the doors to have etched glass.
I designed the built-in furniture as well as the area carpets. With opposing curves to the ceiling, the carpets give movement to an otherwise static space as it connects to the adjacent areas.
The color scheme and the materials used represent memories of California: light color walls, warm, blond-wood bamboo floors, birds eye and rotary maple cabinets and paneling, recycled-content countertops, paper stone surfaces, energy efficient lighting throughout, energy star appliances, energy saving window shades, and more. While New York does not require compliance to title 24 or to a Green Residential Code, we built it as we would in California… and we were teased, but all in good spirit!
The overall result of the apartment design is a warm and relaxing refuge for my clients and their guests from the high-energy New York City lifestyle.