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Materials and colors unify open areasin this remodeled apartment

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Natural light is something we all wish for in our homes – and open-plan living is one way to ensure we get enough of it. Typically, apartments are places that are starved of light. With small rooms and windows on just one or two sides, there is often little potential for the sun to shine in.

When Andreas Charalambous of Forma Design was asked to design a remodel of this apartment, his first thought was to do away with the enclosed areas.

"We opened up the kitchen, so rather than a service area, it becomes part of the living space. This way light can be shared between the rooms," he says.

In order to unify the newly open space, Charalambous used repeated sycamore paneling on the upper kitchen cabinets and around the fireplace on the opposite wall. Changing all the floorboards to bamboo further married the open area.

"The room looks balanced now, which makes it seem even bigger."

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As well as being environmentally friendly, the subtle coloring of the bamboo was important to Charalambous' design. Along with the sycamore, these wood tones become the color palette for the home, providing a neutral backdrop for the owner's extensive art collection. Furniture and accessories add splashes of more intense color.

The owner is not a huge fan of television, but is an avid scuba diver, so Charalambous suggested the wall- mounted flat screen above the fireplace as an alternative computer monitor.

"It can be part of his entertainment in a different way. It is used to play underwater visuals, or to show snapshots of his trips away," says the architect.

In the kitchen, the lower cabinets are stainless steel to tie in with appliances and create a clean, sleek feel. Under-cabinet halogen bulbs light the back-painted glass backsplash above the countertop.

Adjustable halogen down lights with dimmers have been specified to illuminate the artwork in the hallway.

To bring more light into the bedroom and create more space, the door to the spare room was replaced with a pocket door. This makes it seem like an extension to the bedroom, but still allows for privacy when guests are staying. When there are no overnight guests, the spare bed folds into a wall cabinet, which can also be used as a bookshelf.

All closets in this home are pivot-hinged to appear invisible. This makes the spaces seem less cramped, while still allowing for all-important storage. Closet space to the right of the fireplace is shared by the bathroom and the living area. One of the panels is fixed from the living room side and opens to a linen closet in the bathroom.

White terrazzo tiling gives the bathroom a sense of shine, while a large mirror exaggerates the space. Green glass tiles add a fresh touch, and off-set the white tiles and dark wenge wood cabinetry.

Colors in these rooms further unify the interior. The green of the shower tiles repeats a color found in the living room rug, while orange is also seen in both the living room and bedrooms.

First published date: 07 September 2007

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Credit List

Architect Andreas Charalambous, AIA, IIDA, Principal; Juan Guitierrez, Forma Design (Washington DC)
Kitchen cabinet manufacturer Custom by Rumo
Builder Posse Construction Services
Flooring Premium green bamboo
Paints Duron
Lighting Recessed down lights by Lightolier; white LightLight Poster system for artwork
Furniture Monti sofa by Della Robbia; Swan chair by Arne Jacobsen; Cha-Cha area rug and concrete cocktail table on wheels by Formaonline.com
Fireplace Concrete Jungle
Blinds Nysan shading systems
Audio visual Panasonic plasma and Panasonic LCD; Sony CD/DVD changer; Niles ceiling speakers; Denon AVR receiver; Philips Pronto remote supplied by Graffiti Audio Video
Kitchen cabinetry English sycamore and stainless steel by Rumo; pulls by Hafele
Countertop White alabaster with Venetian finish by Concrete Jungle
Backsplash Glass
Kitchen sink Kohler Poise in stainless steel
Faucets Kohler Avatar single control pull-out in polished chrome
Oven GE
Cooktop Wolf
Bathroom basin Kohler Ladena
Bathroom faucets Kohler Stillness widespread lavatory faucet in polished chrome
Shower Kohler Stillness Rite-Temp shower faucet and trim in polished chrome
Tile flooring Bisazza by Architectural Ceramics
Wall tiles La Scala glass mosaic by Architectural Ceramics