Deborah Wilk -- Interior Design, 3/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Firm: Gerrard + Tan Architects
Site: New York
For one fortunate young family, heaven is just an elevator ride away. New York is notoriously a city of tiny, windowless kitchens and bathrooms, so any apartment where both are spacious and light surely qualifies as domestic bliss. This one is also a place with room to grow: 4,000 raw square feet in a 1907 office building, transformed by Gerrard + Tan Architects's Judith Gerrard, who had renovated the husband's previous home.
"It's a really packed program," Gerrard says of the new five-bedroom, four-bath loft, with its assortment of formal common areas, plus a cozy family room. (That's cozy as in warm, not cramped.) The centerpiece is the open kitchen, exposed to full view from a large square dining table that comfortably seats 12.
The kitchen island's pristine cast-concrete counter would make the perfect stage for a star sushi chef to perform feats of culinary daring. If the cooking becomes too consuming, a little relief can be had by folding away the walnut pocket doors of the wet bar, where the warm-white lens of an under-cabinet fluorescent fixture bathes the counter, concrete like the kitchen's, and the sink is often filled with beer or champagne on ice for guests to help themselves. (An ice maker and wine refrigerator fit neatly below.) If a quick pick-me-up is required instead, an espresso machine and a warming drawer for cups are built right into the kitchen wall, next to the ovens and refrigerator.
Anyone game to get into the action in the kitchen will find accoutrements in the upper cabinets, behind frosted-glass doors. "Since the kitchen overlooks the formal entertaining areas, the frosted glass gives the storage a little elegance," Gerrard says. "It's not so clunky." Lower cabinetry has no drawer pulls. "This whole project is about having no visible means of anything," she adds. "No handles. Indirect lighting."
In most of the apartment, that lighting involves virtual clerestories, actually long horizontal strips of acid-etched glass lit, front and back, by fluorescents. In the kitchen, the resulting soffit lowers the ceiling over the island, lending the space intimacy in the context of the formal areas, where the ceiling reaches 13 feet.
Crisscrossing the ceiling are what appear to be perpendicular structural beams. Actually, they conceal massive amounts of electrical cable and venting. "The beams are different widths," Gerrard points out. "With everything at the same height, though, you don't read the difference in the coffer sizes."
Linear fixtures and recessed spotlights supplement the sunshine flooding into the porcelain-tiled bathrooms during the day, and recessed fluorescent strips, identical to the one in the bar, can serve as night-lights. In the master bath, two double-wide sinks allow husband and wife to confer about the past evening or the upcoming day. The sinks share a vanity to maximize capacity, but they have separate mirrors. Between, another mirrored surface incorporates an LCD television screen.
The TV is visible through the clear glass enclosure of the massive steam shower opposite as well as from the adjacent soaking tub. While the former is fitted with a rain showerhead in the ceiling, four separate body sprays on the back wall, and a fold-down teak bench, the latter offers a marble surround, a waterfall faucet, and a hand shower. Forget heaven—this is nirvana.
Photography by Eric Laignel.
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