This Renovated Loft in a Former Hotel Is the Perfect Mix of Polished and Playful

Worrell Yeung fuses the Manhattan apartment’s historic details with the owners’ vibrant collection of art and ephemera—and honors a few eccentric asks.

After 14 years, Irene Glezos and Julie Chartoff had outgrown their cramped, dimly lit apartment in the historic Gilsey House. Built in 1867 as a Beaux Arts–style hotel, the building had retained much of its original charm when it was converted into a co-op space in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood in 1980.

Once Irene and Julie began searching for a new home, however, they quickly found that nothing on the market was a match for the period details and important memories of their current space: It was the home where they’d raised their first child, Max, who passed due to a rare brain tumor. 

Instead of moving on, the couple turned to local architecture firm Worrell Yeung to transform their 1,600-square-foot loft into an open, light-filled home with an additional bedroom and bathroom.

In order to fit the expanded program within the existing footprint, the architects devised a highly efficient layout. Worrell Yeung co-founders, Max Worrell and Jejon Yeung, first removed the existing walls to showcase the historic windows, original plaster molding, and steel structure. This intervention then allowed the apartment to be organized as a large open space in which various programmatic blocks were inserted, creating a subtle balance between shared gathering areas and partitioned rooms.

These programmatic elements—a foyer, fireplace, kitchen, and two bookcase stairs—were designed with utility and storage in mind. Within the new second bedroom, a bold turquoise staircase leading to the sleeping loft serves as a bookcase, repository, and play platform. In the living room, a low-lying built-in integrates a fireplace, bookcase, and desk with ample space for displaying art above it.

In addition to meeting the family’s needs, the renovation creates an apartment that feels distinctly personal. A quiet material palette of ash wood elements, bone-white floors, monolithic gray pieces, and calming marble and stone elevates Irene and Julie's vast assortment of art, objects, and books—a collection that reflects their shared interests in art history, vintage games, and theater. 

"The clients had some unique and fun requests such as crawling-height sleeping lofts, bookcase stairs, sprinkler pipes painted pink, a blue sink. But we listened," Yeung says. "It was a journey and mutual goal to see how playful we could be while keeping it sophisticated and timeless." 

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Project Credits:

Architect: Worrell Yeung / @worrellyeung

Builder: Bednarz Construction 

HVAC and Fire Protection: Engineering Solutions

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