It All Adds Up
Kimberly Goad -- Interior Design, 9/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
When does one plus one equal one? When two apartments are converted into a single residence.
A New York fund manager was determined to conquer one of design's trickiest equations when she purchased two adjacent apartments in the Hendrik Hudson, a Tuscan-style fortress designed in 1907 by Rouse & Sloan. Her search for an architect who could turn the separate units into a loftlike space conducive to entertaining ended when she walked into an art gallery by Lubrano Ciavarra Design, known for its rigorous adherence to clean lines and a limited palette.
"To get the flow to work like a single space is always a challenge," Anne Marie Lubrano says. Especially when the two units aren't aligned on axis. In this case, she and Lea Ciavarra used the kitchen as the hub of the new two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath apartment.
Public spaces, with the kitchen as their centerpiece, face the Hudson River by way of five new steel-framed casement windows. Private spaces wrap an internal courtyard, increasing their sense of intimacy. The reconfigured plan's emphasis on axis collision reflects the energy of the owner, a woman who's passionate about cooking, contemporary art, and traveling the world.
Flooring delineates the two zones: pale yellow concrete for public areas, wide-plank walnut for most of the private ones. Overall, though, unified colors and materials help the 2,000 square feet feel larger and provide a clean backdrop for a photography collection that includes a huge black-and-white piece by Vera Lutter. Wood and metal absorb and reflect the changing light differently, bathing the apartment in a shifting glow.
The open kitchen is defined on three sides by low walnut cabinetry. This "floating element," as Lubrano calls it, allows unobstructed views not only of the river straight ahead but also of the living and dining areas on either side. "Since the public space was for entertaining, we saw an opportunity to make it more dynamic than your typical square room with four walls," Ciavarra explains.
The U of cabinetry is double-sided, serving both the kitchen and surrounding spaces. Cabinets facing the living area, for example, hold the stereo system. Those facing the dining area contain china and wineglasses. On the kitchen's rear wall, floor-to-ceiling walnut cabinetry softens the fridge and freezer's stainless steel—also used for the hood and counter opposite.
Walnut reappears in the 50-foot-long built-in beneath the riverfront windows. It starts out, in the corner, as a desk. Then it extends in a stepped formation that serves simultaneously as a radiator cover, a way to the balcony door, and seating for parties.
Bathrooms are outfitted with walnut vanity cabinets; concrete counters, floors, and vertical surfaces; and stainless-steel fittings. "The rift of the walnut, the creaminess of the concrete, the sunlight—they allow the architecture to take center stage," Ciavarra explains. In the master bath, the shower tiles' soft splash of celadon adds interest to the otherwise muted palette. Nothing tricky about that equation.