And Baby Makes Four
Marisa Bartolucci -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
As told by architect Joan Dineen, the principal of Dineen Architecture + Design, an investment banker and his concert-pianist wife had lived contentedly for five years in a three-bedroom apartment on the 16th floor of an Upper West Side prewar. Until two children came along. As the children began to grow, the apartment began to shrink, the layout becoming awkward.
The small kitchen, for example, was isolated from the formal dining room. Rather than cooking freewheeling family meals with the children playing nearby, the couple—like so many New Yorkers—found themselves resorting to take-out. Children's things, well, they were everywhere. And the only place the baby grand piano could be wedged was the living room, making evening practice sessions impractical.
That all changed with the acquisition of the identical apartment directly below. Working with a total of 3,500 square feet, Dineen merged modern-day, dark-wood minimalism with a pale glamour worthy of Syrie Maugham. Everywhere, masculine hard edges are softened by sumptuous details.
To set the stage for her trademark spare, albeit sensuous luxe, Dineen demolished most of the interior walls in both apartments, then built a two-story core structure in cerused oak and etched glass. Inside are storage areas, a mudroom, a bathroom, and a dramatic stairwell connecting upstairs and downstairs. "I designed it to look like a floating ribbon," Dineen explains of the stair, composed of limestone treads and risers, patinated steel plates, a bronze balustrade, and a handrail covered in bronze-colored leather.
The new downstairs layout provides a gracious progression from the entry to a public zone composed of formal living and dining areas and a family room, all infused with stunning views of the Hudson River and Riverside Park. Despite the openness of this series of spaces—further unified by their dark oak flooring—the furnishings' arrangement and textures bestow a certain intimacy.
Dineen placed the living area's velvet-covered Patrick Naggar sofas cozily across from each other, setting them atop a wool rug; between them sits a marble-topped cocktail table. In the dining area, four of her own benches, covered in cream-colored pony skin, are arranged around Charles Hollis Jones's rectangular acrylic table with bronze fittings.
On the opposite side of the core, the kitchen's daylit radiance is enhanced by the stainless steel of appliances and cabinetry as well as the etched glass panels and marble mosaic tiles cladding the columns. An equally luminous slab of marble forms the counter used for informal meals, while a small office and the children's playroom round out the kitchen zone's amenities.
Upstairs, Dineen expanded the master bedroom into a suite, with a 10-foot-high padded headboard upholstered in pale gray silk and a bathroom paneled in anigre. Each child's bedroom has its own bath, too. But the pièce de résistance is the soundproof music room. Now, after a leisurely family dinner, cooked at home, piano practice goes well into the night.