A Colorful Penthouse Pays Homage to American Design

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A French filmmaker celebrates American design in her vibrantly decorated pied-à-terre perched above Manhattan.

When a French filmmaker with strong ties to Brazil approached award-winning New York City studio Andrew Franz Architect PLLC to design her Manhattan pied-à-terre, she requested the home to boast a distinctive 1950s and 60s American feel. 

Nestled on the top floor of a landmarked five-story building in Soho, the architects revamped the apartment to better accommodate the client's collection of historic furniture and decor items from the 50s and 60s.

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The kitchen was relocated from the back of the space to the center. Here, Corian has been used for the countertops, backsplash, and sills.

The kitchen was relocated from the back of the space to the center. Here, Corian has been used for the countertops, backsplash, and sills.

Aside from Bisazza tiles, "all American materials" were used for the fitouts and finishings. 

Aside from Bisazza tiles, "all American materials" were used for the fitouts and finishings. 

The team integrated a large window wall to the upper level of the penthouse to draw more light into the lower level, while also connecting the interiors to a rooftop patio that looks out to 360-degree skyline views.

White oiled oak was used for the floors, fir for the cabinets and trim.

White oiled oak was used for the floors, fir for the cabinets and trim.

The 1,200-square-foot, one-bedroom, two-bath was completely gutted and its floor plan dramatically reconfigured. 

The 1,200-square-foot, one-bedroom, two-bath was completely gutted and its floor plan dramatically reconfigured. 

"The most notable feature is the light-filled stairwell leading up to the roof. Despite the small size of the apartment, we felt it was worth losing some square footage in order to make the stair a statement and we gained a laundry room and suitcase storage below," says the studio’s founder Andrew Franz.

Plexiglass panels were used for for the kitchen cabinets and staircase shelving.

Plexiglass panels were used for for the kitchen cabinets and staircase shelving.

Benjamin Moore paint in bold primary colors grace the shelves, stair rails, and radiators.

Benjamin Moore paint in bold primary colors grace the shelves, stair rails, and radiators.

According to Franz, designing smaller spaces in walk up buildings can be challenging, but he and his team used this constraint as an opportunity to create a sleek, color-blocked kitchen as the nucleus of the home. 

Bold colors make the space feel "exciting and intentionally present" with the staircase and active cabinetry establishing a stylish counterbalance opposite the kitchen.

Bold colors make the space feel "exciting and intentionally present" with the staircase and active cabinetry establishing a stylish counterbalance opposite the kitchen.

"The color palette is also quite unique in a way; I’ve never used so much color before. It’s the antithesis of minimal. The materials, colors and events inside it are quite maximal – there’s an explosion of visual things going off. Every time we posed a question as to what color, the client responded, ‘let’s use all of them!’ It was a great collaboration," he adds. 

The architects made the most of the penthouse’s elevated position by opening it up to the roof. 

The architects made the most of the penthouse’s elevated position by opening it up to the roof. 

Project Credits: 

Architecture and interior design: Andrew Franz Architect PLLC 

Builder: Wise Construction 

Structural Engineer: Liam O’Hanlon Structural Engineers 

HVAC, plumpling: NK Consulting Engineers 

Exterior restoration, roofing and waterproofing: West New York Restoration

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