This Little Apartment in New York Unleashes the Power of Pegs
When Dan Franklin purchased a one-bedroom, 710-square-foot apartment conveniently situated on the southeast corner of Manhattan’s Union Square, he knew right away that he wanted to renovate. "This is the exact location I wanted to be in, but I thought it could do more," he explains.
The old apartment’s inadequacies would be familiar to anyone who’s ever lived in a big city. In the original layout, the bedroom faced the entryway, offering little barrier between public and private, and a long living room culminated in a cramped galley kitchen.
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Dan’s first instinct was to get started on the transformation before moving in, but his sister convinced him to hold off. "Why don’t you live there first and see how you like the apartment?" she suggested.
He took her advice, settled in, and spent 14 months getting to know the place’s idiosyncrasies. By the end, he had a clearer picture of what he wanted. At the top of his list were an open kitchen for entertaining and an office that he could easily close off. "I’m a lawyer, so I’ve got some privileged and confidential stuff lying around," he says. Most of all, a year-plus of stashing his bike in a corner and eating dinner on a folding table taught him that he needed more multifunctional furniture and better storage.
Around this time, a friend introduced Dan to Lesley Chang and Jason Klimoski of StudioKCA, a Brooklyn-based practice known for designing a cloud-shaped pavilion made out of recycled materials on Governors Island and other imaginative installations around the city.
"Our goal was to create a more permanent home for Dan, but keep some sense of a flexible, adjustable feel," says Chang. "Things that pegged together or folded out felt right."
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"We didn’t have a ‘look’ in mind. We wanted something that would be simple, functional, and adaptable." Jason Klimoski, architect
The duo began by reconfiguring two closets, turning one in the foyer into a storage niche and another in the living room into a compact office that can be closed off behind custom doors. For both nooks, they used reclaimed white oak panels and a grid of gunmetal-blue hardware to create what Klimoski calls "not your average garage pegboards."
The little cylinders that go with the boards pop up all over the apartment. There’s a peg wine rack in the kitchen and a special peg that can be used to unlock Dan’s office. There’s even a portable set that lights up like flashlights using lithium batteries.
Klimoski and Chang also erected a new wall between the front door and bedroom for privacy, while removing the walls that cut off the kitchen from the rest of the unit and installing a concrete countertop that offers space to do work, creates room for undercounter storage, and conceals an AC unit. In the adjacent living/dining area, now open to the kitchen, a coffee table designed by Klimoski can be raised and expanded to seat up to eight.
The time Dan spent in the subpar apartment isn’t an experience he relishes. "At dinner parties, it was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to go disappear for twenty minutes while I put something in the oven,’" he recalls. Even so, he’s glad he waited.
When he bought the unit, adding storage wasn’t even a priority for him, yet by the time they finished the remodel, Klimoski estimates they doubled its capacity. Now Dan confesses, "I’m already thinking, where am I going to put the latest kitchen tool that I saw on TV?"
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