Symphony In Ash
Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 1/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Bathrooms are usually the most private part of a residence, tucked away from the limelight—and the natural light. Not so in the case of this family's New York loft by Desai/Chia Architecture. Handed 5,000 square feet of raw space, once part of a sheet-music printing facility, partners Arjun Desai and Katherine Chia made the three bathrooms the centerpiece.
That's particularly true for the bath of the guest suite, which stands in the middle of the loft's public spaces—an island in a sea of poured-concrete flooring. To the front is the living-dining area. To the back is the TV corner and game room.
Two walls of the 5-by-8-foot guest bath are a slat-and-post construction in ash, a wood that doesn't warp from moisture. The 1/16-inch gaps between the slats are narrow enough to maintain privacy but wide enough to let daylight filter in, through the clear tempered glass that lines the enclosure. "In New York, you have these interior sections of apartments that get absolutely no light," Chia says. "We drew it in, so you don't feel like you're trapped in a box."
The master bath and a bathroom for the owners' 3-year-old son—located back to back in the L-shape floor plan's smaller leg—share the central guest bath's treatment of ash and glass. The bathrooms also share curved steel towel bars, designed by Desai and Chia, and porthole windows, purchased from a marine supplier. For a touch of variety, the architects clad two walls in the guest bath in white 3/4-inch penny-round porcelain tiles; the same tile, in watery blue, covers two walls in the master bath. The son's bathroom features rectangular tiles of milky acid-etched glass.
The architects relied on acid-etched glass for the kitchen, too: By itself for the sliding doors of the cabinets and mirror-backed on a wall by the cooktop. However, that's where similarities between the two types of spaces end. The bathrooms are intriguing exercises in the idea of enclosure, while the central kitchen is about openness to the loft's generous front and side exposures. Accordingly, the architects experimented with the look of materials under both natural and artificial light—all that acid-etched glass as well as the aluminum wrapping three jutting air vents and the stainless steel of the counter and island.
The island, based on a bridge-truss structure, cantilevers 9 feet across the center of the space. "The couple envisioned their son sitting there when he's a little older, doing homework or hanging out with friends," Desai says. In the meantime, the gleaming surface sees use during family dinners.
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