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Cocktails at eight

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Sophisticated apartment interior in Manhattan


Opportunities to extend an apartment are rare, so when the owners of this unit saw that an adjoining studio was on the market they were quick to snap it up.

In Manhattan, where every square foot counts, it was a fortuitous move – walls were knocked down to create a much more spacious, open-plan living area that's perfect for entertaining.

The owners contracted the team from Coffinier Ku Design to oversee the project, which involved extensive remodeling and a completely new interior design.

Designer Ed Ku says the couple, who work in the media, love to entertain.

"It was important to create an interior that would be glamorous and fun, but at the same time very relaxing and calm. That's why we decided to work with a palette of soft grays, silvers and purple. People are inclined to think purple is such a strong accent color, but it really works as a neutral."


Ku says the palette also provides a harmonious link with the large leafy terrace and the cityscape beyond – the colors of the sky and buildings blend with the interior.

For a neutral background, walls and ceilings are painted in a soft white, and the engineered wood flooring features wide planks of Belgian oak stained in a light gray.

A custom sofa creates a centerpiece – its curved asymmetrical shape introducing a lively, unexpected note to the interior. Architect Etienne Coffinier says the sofa was designed to suit both clients, one of whom is considerably taller than the other.

"The owners said they had found it hard to find a sofa that would suit both of them. We made this sofa to be much deeper at one end than the other, so it is a perfect fit for them both.

"To complement the curves of the sofa, we designed a coffee table with rounded ends. This appears to float off the floor, thanks to a transparent Lucite core. It is also practical – magazines can be stacked tidily beneath the top."

The sofa is teamed with a Donghia armchair upholstered in a Cowtan & Tout fabric, and a black leather chair, which is one of the few existing furniture pieces kept in the remodel. Two Saarinen end tables were also existing, but have been restored.

A den occupies the other end of the living area. Here, the furnishings are darker to reinforce a sense of intimacy. The walls are covered in Ultra-suede, and the large partners' desk features cerused wood with a purple leather insert.

"Because the ceilings are rather low, we chose to create distinct horizontal lines," says Ku. "In the den, a band of cerused wood runs along the top of the bookshelves, right around to the living room. This creates a better sense of height. To help lighten the space, the shelves themselves are transparent Lucite.

"We limited the material palette, as it is not a large space – the cerused wood reappears in several places. The two custom-designed area rugs are also linked visually. The purple and gray colorway of the geometric pattern in the living room rug is reversed on the rug in the den."

The extra space created by joining the two apartments provided room for a new bar/breakfast area where the owners' original kitchen once stood. This also features cerused wood cabinetry. Two illuminated mirror-backed shelving niches for glassware can be hidden by doors if required. There is also a sink area with a glittering glass mosaic backsplash.

"The main challenge for the bar area was the fact that we couldn't move the position of the light fixture," says Coffinier. "So we came up with a novel solution – we spider-stretched the 14-7 Pendant light so that the bulbs drop down directly over the bar."

Ku and Coffinier created a new kitchen, which utilizes plumbing services provided for the former studio kitchen. High-gloss lacquered cabinetry in blue-tinged white is teamed with glass countertops and a glass mosaic backsplash similar to the one in the bar.

"Although not large, the kitchen is equipped with everything the owners need and provides plenty of work space," says Ku.

First published date: 31 January 2014

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Credit List

Architect Etienne Coffinier, Coffinier Ku Design (New York)
Interior designer Etienne Coffinier and Ed Ku, Coffinier Ku Design
Builder and cabinet company Fanuka
Lighting Dining sconces from Objet Insolite; glass table lamps from Hinson; 14-7 Pendant from Y Lighting
Flooring Tournai engineered wood from Montaigne Collection by Exquisite Surfaces; Microcemento by Porcelanosa in kitchen
Custom area rugs Stark
Wallcoverings Lowland Ultrasuede by Wolf-Gordon
Paints and varnishes Benjamin Moore
Dining furniture Table by Tucker Robbins; chairs by Martin Battrud
Coffee table Coffinier Ku Design, built by WC Woodworking and Plexi-Craft
Bar stools and bed Coffinier Ku Design, built by Munrod
Sofa and metal ottoman Coffinier Ku Design, built by Upholstery Unlimited
End tables Strawser & Smith
Kitchen cabinets Lacquered
Countertops Glass Thassos product by ProDesign
Cooktop, ventilation and oven Wolf