Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 9/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
This New York loft was blessed with late 1800's cast-iron detailing, a generous 1,000-square-foot layout, and a bright southern exposure, but there was still a major problem: what real-estate agents call an "urban" view. Or, as architect Hayes Slade puts it more succinctly, "The windows looked onto an alleyway."
"Since the apartment was lacking a view, we decided to give it one," says her husband, James, who's also the other half of Slade Architecture. Their solution wasn't window boxes, however. For these visually savvy clients—photographer April Tillman and postproduction colorist Billy Gabor—the Slades created a "view" across the room from the windows, in the apartment's open kitchen.
The 13-foot-wide abstract landscape was produced by digitally elongating an image taken by Tillman, then printing it on plastic laminate and applying it to a row of eye-level cabinets. Inspired by the work of painter Gerhard Richter and photographer Andreas Gursky, this serene panorama evokes land, sky, and water—with streaks of white, blue, and green so soft that they look like reflections on stainless steel.
That impression is heightened by the actual stainless steel of the refrigerator and stacked oven-microwave flanking the photomural. It also glows in the light of fluorescents installed beneath the upper cabinets—which, like the under-counter ones, are walnut-veneered. For the countertop and backsplash, the two Slades chose a black recycled-paper product.
The new kitchen, stretching 18 1/2 feet along one wall, replaces a previous kitchen that was crammed, with the bedroom and bath, into one corner of the loft. Demolishing that obtrusive cluster and moving everything to the perimeter not only freed up space but also revealed a tin ceiling. (The Slades painted it white to match existing cast-iron Corinthian columns.) To partition the bedroom from the central living area, the architects placed a translucent fiberglass screen against the back of an shelving unit—providing ambient light as well as privacy and storage.
Between the bedroom and the master bath, a panel of acid-etched glass addresses privacy and light issues, too. The panel is one of a pair bracketing the sink counter, an 8-foot-long slab of pale aqua cast resin with two barely peceptible depressions for basins; the other panel acts as a splash guard for the shower beyond. Mirror clads the entire wall behind the sinks, while a diffuser covers the ceiling above. The overall effect is something of a light box. What more could a photographer and a professional colorist want?