A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious

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By Ann Binlot / Published by Dwell
Within just 580 square feet, a New York architect carves out a comfortable “vertical loft”—no clutter in sight.

An affordable Manhattan triplex might seem the stuff of real estate fantasy. That’s why attorney René Roupinian jumped on the apartment she now calls home when she first saw it in the mid-aughts—despite the fact that the square footage of its three combined levels was less than that of some studios. "It was so different from anything I had seen. It felt really spacious because of the high ceilings, and it had exposed brick on both sides," René recalls. "I just said, ‘Oh my god, I love this apartment.’" 

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 1 of 8 - The unusual layout of René Roupinian’s Upper West Side home is what initially attracted her to the space, but the three-level plan proved difficult to organize. In his first solo project as STADT Architecture, Christopher Kitterman used a palette of walnut and white to unify the apartment, which he filled with space-saving solutions. Near the entrance, a Goliath table from Resource Furniture can expand to seat up to 10. 

The unusual layout of René Roupinian’s Upper West Side home is what initially attracted her to the space, but the three-level plan proved difficult to organize. In his first solo project as STADT Architecture, Christopher Kitterman used a palette of walnut and white to unify the apartment, which he filled with space-saving solutions. Near the entrance, a Goliath table from Resource Furniture can expand to seat up to 10. 

 But after nearly a decade of living in the 580-square-foot space, located in a late 19th–century building on New York’s Upper West Side, René decided to give the condo an overdue update. The last time it had been remodeled was in the 1970s, and the scratched oak floors, cramped living spaces, and lack of storage were getting to her. So she gave herself a budget and began planning a renovation with STADT Architecture’s Christopher Kitterman, whom she’d met through a mutual friend. "I told him what my dream was:to have a bigger bedroom, a bigger bathroom, and less clutter," she says. 

Kitterman presented her with three proposals. "I always take the middle one," René says, half jokingly. The plan called for an integrated cabinetry system on all three levels and less workon the kitchen than on the other areas. In 2013, René moved to a vacant apartment across the hall as Kitterman began a gut renovation. Everything was torn down except the brick walls. The damaged oak floors were replaced with concrete tile by the entrance, while in the rest of the space walnut boards from LV Wood were installed over a three-quarter-inch plywood substrate with a 10-millimeter GenieMat sound-abatement layer.

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 2 of 8 - In the living room, laminate cabinets with integrated finger pulls stow René’s belongings, while a purple-accented niche displays favorite objects. 

In the living room, laminate cabinets with integrated finger pulls stow René’s belongings, while a purple-accented niche displays favorite objects. 


"As an architect, I wanted a clean white space. René was on board, but fortunately she spoke up and said she liked the exposed brick, so we found a way that made it work." —Christopher Kitterman, architect


A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 3 of 8 - A variation on the system serves as a wardrobe in the sleeping loft. Additional storage can be found in the walnut platform with side tables. Although it appears less in the photo, the space between the platform and the lowest part of the ceiling is about four and a half feet, allowing René to comfortably sit up in bed. A Lutron screen lowers for privacy. 

A variation on the system serves as a wardrobe in the sleeping loft. Additional storage can be found in the walnut platform with side tables. Although it appears less in the photo, the space between the platform and the lowest part of the ceiling is about four and a half feet, allowing René to comfortably sit up in bed. A Lutron screen lowers for privacy. 

Located just off the entrance, the small existing kitchen received a simple update. ("I don’t cook," René explains.) Kitterman added marble countertops and had the cabinets painted white; he placed new Micro Grazer light channels by Edge Lighting under the millwork and halogen housings with LED retrofits by Element Lighting overhead.

The adjacent area became a flexible space that serves as a dining room or office. A Goliath table from Resource Furniture can be used as a console, desk, or dining table, expanding from a slim 17 inches to 115 inches. "To have something for one purpose is not so practical," says Kitterman, who also added a wall of white lacquer cabinets for storage. René takes full advantage of the table’s versatility. "I’ve used it as often for working as for entertaining and setting up food and drinks," she says.

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 4 of 8 - Plum accents, including a Saarinen Womb chair in aubergine Rivington fabric by KnollTextiles, complement the apartment’s exposed brick. The trio of Paper tables, designed by GamFratesi for Gubi, can nest in various formations, while a Clear Ice chandelier from ABC Carpet & Home and semisheer curtains made by Beckenstein Fabric & Interiors lend the room a soft glow. 

Plum accents, including a Saarinen Womb chair in aubergine Rivington fabric by KnollTextiles, complement the apartment’s exposed brick. The trio of Paper tables, designed by GamFratesi for Gubi, can nest in various formations, while a Clear Ice chandelier from ABC Carpet & Home and semisheer curtains made by Beckenstein Fabric & Interiors lend the room a soft glow. 


"The material palette is simple: walnut or a white lacquered surface. It’s really about two materials intertwined."—Christopher Kitterman


A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 5 of 8 - The interior of the 1890s building is just 16 feet wide.    

The interior of the 1890s building is just 16 feet wide.    

The living room, on the second level, was outfitted with a similar custom white-lacquer cabinetry system, but this one includes a niche for the television that allows it to swivel in such a way that René can watch TV as she works down below. 

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 6 of 8 - On the first level, a walnut veneer counter offers a place to drop belongings or to enjoy a meal. The walls are painted in Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore to create a bright but neutral backdrop. Maximizing space was the priority of the remodel. 

On the first level, a walnut veneer counter offers a place to drop belongings or to enjoy a meal. The walls are painted in Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore to create a bright but neutral backdrop. Maximizing space was the priority of the remodel. 

As the project progressed, she got rid of all her dated furniture, replacing it with an edited selection that includes a plum Womb chair by Eero Saarinen for Knoll and contemporary pieces such as a glass pendant light fixture and a sofa with a chaise by Gus Modern. A set of round nesting tables from the Paper table series by GamFratesi for Gubi completes the space. 

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 7 of 8 - In the bathroom,a little-used tub was replaced by a streamlined shower. Both the Duravit medicine cabinet and the Kimball & Young makeup mirror feature built-in LED lighting.

In the bathroom,a little-used tub was replaced by a streamlined shower. Both the Duravit medicine cabinet and the Kimball & Young makeup mirror feature built-in LED lighting.

Kitterman reconfigured the stairs to the bedroom so that instead of going straight up, they wind their way to the loft, creating a new landing. He rotated the bed 90 degrees and replaced an existing guard wall with a wall that serves as a low built-in headboard, adding 18 inches of space. He also worked with the contractor to build a custom platform bed frame with drawers underneath as well as integrated side tables with built-in USB outlets. An automated Lutron shade drops from the ceiling to provide privacy.

To eke out a bit more room in the bathroom, Kitterman replaced the tub with a glass shower. A stone mosaic floor was laid out, and the drawers beneath the sink and the medicine cabinet were enlarged and redone in white.

With the 11-month renovation, Kitterman was able to create everything his client desired. The apartment now offers storage on all three levels, a more spacious bathroom, and a larger bedroom. "Every day, when I come down these steps, I have this wonderful feeling of peace," René says. "There’s no clutter. It’s neat. It’s spacious."  

A 16-Foot-Wide Triplex Is Cleverly Reconfigured to Feel Extra Spacious - Photo 8 of 8 -


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Velo Ceiling Fan
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ABC Carpet & Home Clear Ice Chandelier
ABC Carpet & Home Clear Ice Chandelier
Available through ABC Carpet & Home, the Clear Ice Chandelier was designed to resemble a floating cluster of ice. It’s made up of nine mouth-blown glass globes and anodized aluminum stems that carefully hold them in place. Made in the USA, it was inspired by lighting designs of the past and takes cues from reflective, sculptural forms. Though it’s shown here in clear glass, you can also opt for smoke bulbs—all of which are five inches in diameter. You’ll find G4 halogen 10W bulbs included. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson
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GamFratesi Paper Tables
GamFratesi Paper Tables
When the duo behind GamFratesi Design Studio created the Paper Tables for Gubi, they were inspired by the idea of carefully merging sheets of paper together. The result is a collection of occasional tables that are available in three different heights and tabletop sizes. Balancing on three rounded legs, they're available in either an oak or walnut veneer. The design team—pulling inspiration from their Danish and Italian backgrounds—aims to create furniture that illustrates the process and techniques used. To incorporate this theory, they laid the top down in two different directions, which creates a subtle graphic effect that plays off of the rounded design. Photo: Courtesy of Gubi
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