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Light and space

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NY apartment remodel

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Some people live in the city and enjoy the luxury of a weekend getaway in a rural setting. But for others the opposite applies – they have a home out of town, with an urban base to return to after the theater or a party, that is also a place to entertain friends.

With the second scenario in mind, the owners of this apartment approached interior designer Laura Bohn. Their unit had an over-sized kitchen that dominated the open-plan living spaces. Surrounded by buildings, the apartment had little natural light and all the spaces were dark and unappealing, says Bohn.

"In response, we stripped the interiors back completely and rearranged some of the rooms. The kitchen was reduced in size – most New Yorkers dine out anyway – and this created a larger, more interesting living and dining space. In addition, I swapped around the master bathroom and the dressing closet. The latter was too large for its purpose while the bathroom had been undersized."

The reinvented decor further transforms the look and feel of the apartment. Dramatic, soft-toned die-cut curtains hang floor-to-ceiling in the living room and bedrooms. These are backlit to create the illusion of soft, diffused sunlight filtering through the unit. Together with new blond bamboo floors, this helps to achieve the light, airy aesthetic requested by the owners.

To mitigate the much-increased length of the living area, and for visual interest, Bohn painted the lower half the longest wall gray. This creates a contrast to the other wall and ceiling surfaces, which are all in white.

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"I used the point where the two colors meet as a reference line, and set paintings and speakers at this height," says the designer. "In addition, changes were made to the existing fireplace that had dominated one end of the room. As this had to remain in place, we downplayed its heavy presence with a new blackboard fire surround – one of many playful touches we introduced to the interior."

While the tonal scheme is mainly white with gray, pops of color come from a green sliding door by the entry, and the various paintings and objects collected by the owners.

"To help make the space lighter, we painted most surfaces in gloss paint even if the surfaces were not in perfect condition," says Bohn. "This helps bounce light through the rooms."

"The owners use this apartment as a weekend base for after-theater parties and other get-togethers, so nearly all the furniture can be repurposed for guests to sleep on. In the second bedroom, for example, two units double as desks and beds."

Another feature at the other end of the living room is an aluminum standing screen that can be drawn across to conceal the kitchen from the living spaces. The metal connects with the stainless steel appliances, hardware and baseboards.

"To continue the visual interest, a column on one side of the screen is stripped back to give it a distressed look, while a vertical pipe at the other end of the divider is now hiding in plain sight," says Bohn. "This is wrapped in a sparkly cord comprised of several lengths, with the end tassels dangling, for a fun, casual look."

In the kitchen, small round green floor mats and a square panel painted on the wall continue the sense of playfulness. Cabinets in a wall niche are backlit from above and below to help them stand out.

The furniture includes '60s and'70s pieces such as the White Furniture Luna chair and ottoman, and the Platner side table.

"In the master bedroom, we put whitewash over a prominent brick wall, and it is now a soft pink color," says Bohn. "I created a custom headboard for the bed, giving it a quilted panel that provides a gentler transition between the wood and the brick. And carpet in both bedrooms adds to the sense of relaxation and comfort."

The new master bathroom is finished in hexagonal mosaic tiles in various shades of green, a color that links with the bed linen and cabinetry in the guest bedroom. This now warm, welcoming, light-filled apartment is well connected in every way.

First published date: 31 January 2014

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Credit List

Architect Gary Deam, Deam Design (New York)
Interior designer and kitchen designer Laura Bohn Design Associates (New York)
Cabinet company Ikea
Builder BFI Construction
Flooring Bamboo
Paints and finishes Sherwin-Williams with Eggshell finish
Lighting Tolomeo; Flos Kelvin lamp from Lightforms Vendor
Furniture DWR Trekk bookcases, West Elm Spine wall shelves, Usona Cubix hanging credenza, White Furniture Luna chair with ottoman, ABC Home sisal rug, Platner side table; Italian guest beds from Resource Furniture
Blinds Bergamo in suede
Oven, cooktop, refrigeration, dishwasher Ikea
Bathroom wall tiles Eco-Gres mosaic, Dove White, Havana Green