Urban Vessel

Originally published in 

"I'm used to spending time on boats," says New York based architect and interior designer Page Goolrick, who has been sailing competitively for 15 years. "It's influenced my design. Sailing vessels are beautifully designed, flexible, made for performance, but also attractive.

Project 
Goolrick House
Architect 

"I'm used to spending time on boats," says New York based architect and interior designer Page Goolrick, who has been sailing competitively for 15 years. "It's influenced my design. Sailing vessels are beautifully designed, flexible, made for performance, but also attractive. They are not ornamental; they do their job and do it well, but they're beautiful." It seems that the two disciplines have conspired to make Goolrick's design streamlined, efficient, and unobtrusively inventive. And theses qualities are nowhere so apparent as in the Gramercy Park apartment she recently renovated for herself.

Goolrick's 560-square-foot pied-à-terre functions much like the interior of a small yacht: efficient, adaptable, highly functional, and glossily good-looking. With a place for every little thing, and lacking fatuous details, she has created a decadent minimalism on a budget of only $70,000. The apartment is brightly white and richly veined with wood, a dark-stained (formerly cheap blond) parquet floor, walnut shelving, and a walnut sideboard by Knoll. In the bathroom, she used glass tile to generate depth and luminosity. The overall effect has been to create, within a single interior, spaces that are both lofty and intimate.

From the front door, the hallway looks toward a wall of glacier-green, sanded-acrylic sliding doors that form a box around the bedroom. The doors that flank the bed (there's very little room around it-this is a nest if ever there was one) are translucent, but those at its foot are opaque partitions made from lacquered white MDF panels set into Häfele tracks and which, when open, park perfectly against a furred wall of the same width. Goolrick designed custom hardware that allows various panels to telegraph together when open, stacking seamlessly against walls of the same width, and to open sequentially without the messy look of floor channels.

An upholstered headboard is recessed into the wall, leaving a small cavity above to hold books or photographs. Beneath the mattress, a platform contains eight drawers floating slightly off the floor to make room for feet to approach the bed without banging into it. Sleek white cabinetry to the left of the bed hides a flat-screen television that pivots out of its niche, shelving, and a chute-like pocket to hold shoes.

In the hall, the rear of each of two walk-in closets is lined floor-to-ceiling with mirrors, which makes the space, tiered with two racks for clothes, look significantly bigger and deeper than it actually is. (Anything that Goolrick planned to store was measured and the storage containers made to that measure: Trousers on a clip hanger, for instance, took 10 inches of depth instead of the more standard 24 inches.)

Likewise, the kitchen feels economical without being parsimonious: It has simple steel countertops, sheer wall panels, a ribbon of faucet, and two hip-high Sub-Zero refrigerator-freezers that leave room for cabinetry above. Goolrick modified IKEA drawers by cutting openings in them to accommodate plumbing and electrical wiring. "Because the space is so small, I can't just bring anything home. This is kind of like a great hotel suite with a kitchenette, and I like that because it keeps me light and free. Editing is a big part of the [design] process."

In the living room, where books about de Kooning and Matisse and The Poetics of Space are piled on a coffee table, a wide mirror above the sofa bed allows the green canopy of trees in the park seven floors below to be seen from every corner of the apartment. Windows on Lexington Avenue are fitted with blinds made from heavy white sailcloth (and do indeed resemble sails) that pivot about 180 degrees, cantilever parallel with the window to let light in, and park perpendicular with the sill to diffuse light and create privacy. Reaching the corner, where two windows meet at a right angle, they pirouette smoothly to cover the facing window.

The dining room table serves as Goolrick's home office. Behind the table, a diminutive white cabinet contains the equivalent of an office in the equivalent of a sailboat bench: a printer, modem, fax, telephone, and, recessed inside a secret alcove in the shoulder of the cabinet, a stereo. Goolrick designed the cabinet to be exactly 8.5 inches deep to stow a ream of 8.5-by-11-inch paper. "You want to use every inch in this city," Goolrick says. "Every half-inch amounts to something, but it's not necessary to have a lot of square footage to live well."

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