A Hidden Mezzanine Keeps This Narrow SoHo Loft Looking Crisp

A Hidden Mezzanine Keeps This Narrow SoHo Loft Looking Crisp

The undulating walls of this light-filled loft reference the building’s past life as a silk warehouse.
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How can you maintain the essential character of a New York City loft while trying to insert a bedroom into a seemingly impossibly narrow space? This was the critical question that architect Julian King faced when approached by a client who had purchased an apartment in a former silk warehouse in trendy SoHo.

Architect Julian King’s creative approach to incorporating a bedroom without sacrificing natural light: creating a narrow mezzanine with undulating walls that act as both art and a link to the building's past as a silk warehouse.

The building was originally constructed in 1872, and the current apartment layout was not doing the building’s original features—think high ceilings, brick walls, and double exposures—any favors.

The new layout of the apartment allows for light to stream in from the north and the south. The original brick wall is washed with a continuous, slim LED light. The door to the bathroom is a custom 13-foot-high sandblasted pivot door.

At the time of the purchase, the apartment was "terribly cluttered with an exposed mess of sprinkler piping, poorly configured and built rooms, and a landlocked kitchen," describes King. The room layout, in concert with the exposed ductwork, plumbing, and wiring, obscured the 13-foot-plus ceilings, and took away from the daylight provided by windows on either end of the apartment. King sought to "preserve what makes a classic SoHo loft a loft," but also wanted to consider creative ways to incorporate a bedroom without losing any natural light. 

With the kitchen at the south end, planters receive direct sunlight that is unobstructed by any upper cabinets or shelving. The old single-pane windows were replaced with new custom wood windows that matched the originals in profile, but instead used insulated low-E glass.

Creating a partition between the windows to create the separate bedroom would mean losing daylight in the central open space, and wasn’t an option for King. While a traditional mezzanine or lofted bedroom would be a feasible solution, incorporating it into the space in an elegant way—wherein the space below would be functional and permissible by local authorities—would be a technical and aesthetic challenge. 

The cozy sleeping area fits a king-sized bed and houses a hidden television. A nightstand is incorporated into a recess in the plaster walls, showcasing exposed brick.

Rather than locate the raised bedroom near the windows, King instead placed it in the middle of the room and kept the top of the wall away from the ceiling, so that it floats down from the ceiling, recalling the flowing fabric that used to be stored in the building.

The bathroom continues the same all-white and marble palette set by the rest of the apartment, particularly the kitchen. The trough sink seems to float mid-air, and the organic shape of the freestanding bathtub is reflected in the curve of the wall. A bright red sprinkler main valve adds a pop of color. In the shower, a custom mosaic spelling "Grand St." composed of 1/2" thick Thassos stone blocks shines subtly against the waterproof plaster wall.

By locating the mezzanine in the middle of the long and narrow layout, he created a cinching of the open area which continues with the insertion of the adjacent bathroom. The curves of the mezzanine wall are echoed by the curves of the wall around the bathtub, creating continuity, and also acting as a physical and visual divider between the kitchen area and the living spaces.

The steel shelf along the brick wall of the kitchen is made out of steel sections and holds selections of dressings, wines, salt and pepper, and wine glasses.

I-beam flanges echoing the dimensions of a wine glass were welded together to create the wineglass rack; the industrial material strengthens the raw look of the exposed brick.

This setup allows the kitchen to be located at one end of the apartment, with a wall of counter space under the windows and a large, central island that acts as the focal point. The white countertops and cabinetry provide a clean contrast to the texture and variation in the exposed brick walls, with the installation of a single steel shelf as the only open storage or artwork on the walls.

An existing, hollow, metal-paneled door dating to the building's use as a silk warehouse was cleaned of all painted finishes and reused as the entry door to the apartment. 

The stainless-steel ladder telescopes up and down and is a custom piece that travels along a curved track, imitating the form of the curved solid oak shelving. When pushed behind the sleeping loft to the laundry area, it is out of sight.

The top of the mezzanine wall peels away, allowing the space to remain somewhat open. It also provides an opportunity to inset a flush, recessed, flexible LED light into the top of the wall as it dies into the ceiling.

Along the long hallway leading to the open lofted area, a large niche acts as a study/guest bedroom when a series of Hafele folding door panels reveal a desk that folds down into a modern Murphy bed.

The layout of the loft shows its long and narrow configuration, with three large windows at either end, reached after a long corridor with several twists and turns.

Related Reading:

A Loft Mezzanine Cleverly Enlarges This Small Beijing Flat

This Elegant, Industrial SoHo Loft Is Streamlined but Cozy

A Small Manhattan Home Gains Space With Two Cozy Lofts

Project Credits: 

Architect: Julian King Architect, Christina Lyons

General Contractor: NYC Construction, Mario

Structural Engineer: Alnour Consulting Engineers PC, Nouradine Benhabdelhak

Cabinetry Design/Installation: Siena WoodworksRich 

Steel Fabrication: Greenside Corp., Patrick Kelleher

Interior Plaster: Sobra Studios Surfaces LLC, Jason Tackmann

Selected Photography: Michael Moran


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