In A Family Way
Kimberly Goad -- Interior Design, 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
site: flatiron district
What would drive a couple expecting their first child to leave the family-friendly Upper West Side for the trendy Flatiron district? One word: space. Or, to be more precise: the lack thereof.
Kate Verner, an expert in product licensing for home furnishings, and her husband, Joseph Iacono, a hedge-fund partner, were—like a lot of New Yorkers—masters in the art of "making do." Each room in their small two-bedroom did double duty. The spare bedroom also served as an office; the living room became a dining room during large dinner parties. But then Verner became pregnant with a son, and the prospect of turning some unused spot into a nursery sent her and Iacono looking for more space.
They found plenty in a 4,500-square-foot loft, an entire floor of an 11-story building on a block of converted warehouses. As first impressions go, the apartment was short on charm, warmth, and pretty much every other attribute most people want in somewhere to live. And the prospect of creating a home in a space that could have swallowed their old apartment many times over was intimidating. But liberating. "In the past, the space dictated how we lived. Everything was compartmentalized. This is where you eat. This is where you sleep," Verner says. "Now we were faced with a new way of living. We could think about how the space would function."
To do that, the couple turned to an old friend, Verner's former colleague Elena Frampton, a principal at Curated. (The two had worked together at Clodagh in the 1990's.) Frampton was asked to turn the stark loft into a place that could both serve as a backdrop for frequent entertaining and meet the everyday needs of a young family—which would soon include a daughter and a Weimaraner as well.
Previous owners had done a generic build-out with open living space forming an L that wrapped a block of bedrooms and bathrooms on one side. Though that basic setup remains, Frampton reconfigured the private spaces by reducing the size of the enormous master suite, complete with gym. A smaller master bedroom and bath are now flanked, on one side, by a playroom, guest quarters, and a utility room and, on the other, by two children's rooms. From there, the challenge was to figure out a way to transform what Frampton calls the "football field" of remaining space into individual "rooms" without compromising the flow.
The first thing you notice upon entering is a new partition covered by a scribble-patterned mural that sets the mood in a playfully elegant way while concealing the study. Throughout, Frampton relied on colorful rugs and a lively selection of vintage and custom furniture to define function areas. "Part of what makes the space modern and young is the mix of things," she says. A rug in David Hicks's Y pattern gives shape to the den. Two oversize dome pendant fixtures hover above the adjoining dining area, setting it off from the open kitchen. A small sitting area is divided from the main living area by a Barcelona daybed.
A sofa with mohair upholstery helps make that formal living area less so. Sheer draperies, meanwhile, help soften the north-facing space without blocking the natural light, something which is sporadic everywhere in spite of the four exposures. "It changes quickly and dramatically," Frampton notes. The kitchen is flooded with morning sunshine but dark the rest of the time. Conversely, the master bedroom is dark until late afternoon. She addressed the problem with a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, and track lighting, and she was careful to choose colors that could change, chameleonlike, over the course of the day. "People often look at our spaces and can't put a finger on why they're comfortable, but a lot of it is about color," she continues. The colors of two other murals require no explanation, however: blue in the son's room and pink in the daughter's.
Photography by Joshua McHugh.
FROM FRONT B&B ITALIA: SOFA (DEN). THROUGH EMMERSON TROOP: COCKTAIL TABLES (DEN, LIVING AREA). AM COLLECTIONS: CUSTOM RUGS (DEN, MASTER BEDROOM). THROUGH ORANGE: STOOLS (KITCHEN), SIDE TABLE (LIVING AREA). HIVEMINDESIGN: PENDANT FIXTURES (DINING AREA). EDRA: CHAIRS. THROUGH HARRIS KRATZ ANTIQUES: CREDENZA. KNOLL: ARMCHAIR, OTTOMAN (DEN), DAYBED (LIVING AREA), TABLES (CHILDREN'S ROOMS). THROUGH MARY ANN LEMBO: ARMCHAIRS (LIVING AREA). LOST CITY ARTS: CUSTOM SOFA. RUG COMPANY: RUGS (LIVING, SITTING AREAS). CORAGGIO TEXTILES: CURTAIN FABRIC. MAHARAM: SOFA FABRIC (LIVING AREA), CURTAIN FABRIC, HEADBOARD FABRIC, CHAIR FABRIC (MASTER BEDROOM). THROUGH MODERN LIVING SUPPLIES: ARMCHAIRS (SITTING AREA). THROUGH MODERN ONE: TABLE. THROUGH PAUL MARRA DESIGN: LAMP. THROUGH RUMBA: CHAIR (MASTER BEDROOM). THROUGH ABC CARPET & HOME: BEDCOVER, PILLOWS (MASTER BEDROOM), RUGS (CHILDREN'S ROOMS). THROUGH NOGUCHI MUSEUM STORE: PENDANT FIXTURE (BOY'S ROOM). ARGINGTON: BED. BED BATH & BEYOND: BEDSPREAD. DORNBRACHT: SHOWER FITTINGS (BATHROOM). STONE SOURCE: TILE. IKEA: CRIB (GIRL'S ROOM).