This Little Apartment in New York Unleashes the Power of Pegs

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By Ann Binlot
New storage, clever furniture, and lots of pegboards help a New York attorney get organized.

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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Adjustable pegboards help lawyer Dan Franklin manage his compact apartment in downtown Manhattan.

Adjustable pegboards help lawyer Dan Franklin manage his compact apartment in downtown Manhattan.

In his office, formerly a closet, the pegs can be rearranged to hang shelving. The Executive Chair is by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller. 

In his office, formerly a closet, the pegs can be rearranged to hang shelving. The Executive Chair is by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller. 

The workspace disappears behind custom doors.

The workspace disappears behind custom doors.

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.

StudioKCA designed a height-adjustable, expanding table for Dan to host get-togethers.

StudioKCA designed a height-adjustable, expanding table for Dan to host get-togethers.

The dining chairs and stools are from Crate &amp; Barrel, the Solo sofa is by Antonio Citterio <br>for B&amp;B Italia, and the paper lantern is by Isamu Noguchi.&nbsp;

The dining chairs and stools are from Crate & Barrel, the Solo sofa is by Antonio Citterio
for B&B Italia, and the paper lantern is by Isamu Noguchi. 

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."

Shop the Look
Eames Aluminum Group Executive Chair
Eames Aluminum Group Executive Chair
Herman Miller introduced the Eames Aluminum Group in 1958 as Charles and Ray Eames' response to the need for high-quality indoor-outdoor furniture, and soon moved inside exclusively. The sophisticated, high-back Eames® Aluminum Group Executive Chair is a commanding desk chair from any angle.
Isamu Noguchi Model 7A Table Lamp
Isamu Noguchi Model 7A Table Lamp
Akari Light Sculptures by Isamu Noguchi are considered icons of 1950s modern design.
Crate & Barrel Spin Swivel Backless Bar Stool
Crate & Barrel Spin Swivel Backless Bar Stool
This industrial, contemporary brushed aluminum bar stool has a bar-appropriate height and offers the classic 360-degree spin, with ball bearing action for a smooth ride. Spin lets you easily add functional bar seating at a great everyday value. The Spin 30" Bar Stool is a Crate and Barrel exclusive.
In the foyer, the designers turned a closet into a valet area. The bench is upholstered <br>in fabric by Knoll.

In the foyer, the designers turned a closet into a valet area. The bench is upholstered
in fabric by Knoll.

"We didn’t have a ‘look’ in mind. We wanted something that would be simple, functional, and adaptable." Jason Klimoski, architect

The apartment features portable power-powered light-up pegs that can be used as flashlights.&nbsp;

The apartment features portable power-powered light-up pegs that can be used as flashlights. 

The light-up pegs can also be docked in a wall in the bedroom and used as sconces.&nbsp;

The light-up pegs can also be docked in a wall in the bedroom and used as sconces. 

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.

A mirrored-glass backsplash plays up the feeling of space.

A mirrored-glass backsplash plays up the feeling of space.

Nearly every kitchen surface is clad in reclaimed white oak. Magnetic spice holders are stuck to a steel column that rises from the counter.&nbsp;

Nearly every kitchen surface is clad in reclaimed white oak. Magnetic spice holders are stuck to a steel column that rises from the counter. 

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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