A Small Manhattan Home Gains Space With Two Cozy Lofts

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Nestled in a pre-war duplex in New York City, the historic apartment is treated to a modern makeover.

As the director of architecture at co-living brand Common, Jenn Chang knows all about the art of placemaking—and her own home in SoHo, New York, is proof of this. Located in the historic district of Greenwich Village, the apartment is housed within a four-story building that was originally built as a Grammar school in 1886.

When Chang purchased the 1,038-square-foot apartment in the spring of 2014, it was in decent shape, but had very standard layout. Together, with her two friends from graduate school—Charlie Able and Andy McGee—Chang worked on turning the apartment into an efficient yet beautiful home with a fresh and welcoming personality. 

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After a strategic renovation, the redesigned apartment is a great example of a home that corresponds with Common’s philosophy of creating spaces that work well, all while responding to their context. (Coffee table from Yield.)

After a strategic renovation, the redesigned apartment is a great example of a home that corresponds with Common’s philosophy of creating spaces that work well, all while responding to their context. (Coffee table from Yield.)

"The repurposing of a schoolhouse to residential use creates a progression whereby tight walls are relieved by expansive, airy spaces," explains Chang. "The former classroom—with 14-foot ceilings and oversized picture windows—is uniquely, almost proportionally cubic in its dimensions. The apartment's past makes for wonderful and unusual living space." 

Chairs from Hay and Matter.

Chairs from Hay and Matter.

During the remodel, she and her friends reconfigured the layout and re-conceptualized two unused storage spaces in the lofts, making them the main design features of their adjoining spaces. This allowed Chang to keep the design of the primary areas simple and bare. 

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Italian Linen Throw Pillows
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A Muuto couch in the living room.

A Muuto couch in the living room.

"Our budget was limited, so the renovation did not rely on luxe finishes, but rather the detailing of basic carpentry," Chang continues to note. 

A bookshelf from Ferm Living.

A bookshelf from Ferm Living.

"We focused on the manipulation of simple materials like, drywall, maple plywood, and raw, unfinished concrete. We collaborated with our Columbia alumni friends at Kin & Company, who custom-fabricated all of the blackened steel accents that act as the connections between all the spaces, highlighting the portals, doors, and interior windows." 

While the apartment's floor area is modest, its high walls give the space a lofty, voluminous feel.

While the apartment's floor area is modest, its high walls give the space a lofty, voluminous feel.

All of the metalwork has been completed by Kin & Company.

All of the metalwork has been completed by Kin & Company.

The two lofts are wrapped in maple carpentry, and the warmth of the material works with the compactness of the space to create the most intimate rooms in the apartment. 

The two lofts are wrapped in maple carpentry, and the warmth of the material works with the compactness of the space to create the most intimate rooms in the apartment. 

A peek at the dark green, fuss-free kitchen.

A peek at the dark green, fuss-free kitchen.

The discreet wooden closet matches the flooring.

The discreet wooden closet matches the flooring.

A work desk connects to the headboard.

A work desk connects to the headboard.

A rug from Kinnasand.

A rug from Kinnasand.

A wall sconce by Allied Maker.

A wall sconce by Allied Maker.

A peek at the Kohler Purist fixtures in the bathroom.

A peek at the Kohler Purist fixtures in the bathroom.

Project Credits: 

Architect: Andy McGee of Format

Interior design: Jennifer Chang, Director of Architecture at Common 

Collaborators: Charlie Able, and Andrew McGee 

Metal design and fabrication: Kin & Company

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