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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Architect: Julian King Architect, Christina Lyons
General Contractor: NYC Construction, Mario
Structural Engineer: Alnour Consulting Engineers PC, Nouradine Benhabdelhak
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Siena Woodworks, Rich
Steel Fabrication: Greenside Corp., Patrick Kelleher
Interior Plaster: Sobra Studios Surfaces LLC, Jason Tackmann
Selected Photography: Michael Moran