Trading Up, Paring Down
Mary Beth Duehr -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
When a New Jersey couple decided to move from a suburban center-hall colonial to a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side, they agreed that the gain of the city's excitement was worth the loss in space. Particularly since that loss would be offset by a GV Interior Design transformation.
Primed for a lifestyle change, the two empty-nesters were perhaps better able to see beyond the 1,350-square-foot apartment's choppy layout and less-than-stellar features, including exposed radiators and worn parquet. "They were sold on the windows," says principal Ghislaine Viñas, noting the fenestration on three exposures, plus no building next door.
To take advantage of the plentiful sunlight, Viñas opened up the claustrophobic kitchen, cutting a pass-through in the wall that had closed off the kitchen from the dining area. Visual separation is maintained by a difference in flooring: smoky-gray honed-basalt tile for the kitchen, light maple for the dining area and the adjacent living area.
To enhance visual unity, on the other hand, Viñas dropped all the ceilings to the same height and skim-coated the battered walls. She replaced the doors with full-height steel-framed sliding models fronted in acid-etched glass. "Their lean, elongated lines combat the apartment's boxiness," she says.
The doors also tie in with the palette of gray and white that dominates furnishings and finishes throughout the public space. The kitchen is a study in metals, with aluminum-finished cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances; counters are Zodiaq, a quartz-based product. Bellying up to the bar are a pair of Claudio Feltrin and Eiri Iwakura's sophisticated white leather-covered stools, and the mood continues in the dining area with Paolo Piva's white lacquered table and Antonio Citterio's chairs, covered in pale gray Ultrasuede. Overhead hangs Franco Raggi's pendant fixture in chrome-plated aluminum.
In the living area, the muted scheme extends to the contemporary furniture the couple already owned—sofa, chair, cocktail table, and tiered glass side tables—but Viñas's addition injects some color into the mix. She set the cocktail table atop a custom tomato-red wool rug.
White-painted wood built-in radiator covers provide further streamlining in the living area. In the two bedrooms, similar covers span the window walls, incorporating shelves as well.
The master suite showcases Chi Wing Lo's furniture, all of which the clients already owned. His light-maple side tables pick up on the ethereal orthogonality of the room, but the straight lines and right angles are tempered by his maple bed.
In the master bath, making room meant moving the shower partition out 1 foot, then lining the resulting oversize shower with aqueous glass wall tile. In the guest room, space saving takes the form of a Murphy bed and a built-in desk. So every one of those 1,350 square feet pulls its own weight.