Loft in Translation
Jane Margolies -- Interior Design, 4/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
For three years, Meagan Shein and Peter VanAlstine lived happily in their 1,250-square-foot New York loft. An artist and a sales representative for a financial printing company, respectively, the unstructured space in an early 1900's industrial building suited their carefree lifestyle just fine, that is until their son, Christopher, was born. Sleep deprived and on the verge of being overtaken by the clutter that accompanies parenthood, the couple longed for real bedrooms and more storage space. And updating the galley kitchen at the rear of the long, rectangular plan had long been a back-burner project. The couple needed an ingenious solution, so they called upon Messana O'Rorke Architects.
With the loft's only windows on the southern wall, partners Brian Messana and Toby O'Rorke had to devise a way to create two separate bedrooms without blocking precious natural light. They also had to contend with the space's original brick structural wall that runs half the length of the apartment, separating the couple's sleeping space from the living area.
That wall turned out to be the linchpin of the loft's transformation. The architects split the couple's sleeping area into two rooms by installing a frosted-acrylic partition perpendicular to the brick wall. They closed off the north side of the adult bedroom from the main living area with a second frosted-acrylic wall. Pocket doors built into the brick wall's two existing archways provide additional privacy.
Next on the list of improvements was storage. Along the west wall of both bedrooms, Messana O'Rorke put in floor-to-ceiling white-lacquer closets. Similar units between the dining area and kitchen help modulate the space. "Before, you saw the whole loft at one glance upon entry," recalls Messana. "Now, it unfolds as you round the closet corner." The floor throughout is the loft's original white oak, sanded and stained antique walnut.
The centerpiece of the living area is the new kitchen, which Messana O'Rorke kept along the loft's north wall. The location took advantage of existing plumbing lines and "allows the parents to overlook the rest of the apartment," says O'Rorke.
Aside from its geography, the architects made changes to all other aspects of the kitchen. It now gleams with custom stainless-steel countertops and white-lacquer cabinets. All upper cabinets were raised 6 inches so they align; minimalist stainless-steel hardware maintains the clean line. Best of all, Messana O'Rorke added a 6-by-3-foot breakfast bar with ample storage.
Verner Panton's tomato-red Flower Pot pendant adds a pop of color against the industrial-chic background. Antique street-lamp hanging fixtures illuminate the dining area's custom oak table, which, with the addition of baby Emma last year, is set for four.