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Room with a view

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This penthouse apartment was transformed into a gallery-like space, drawing attention to the expansive views on both sides of the building

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When an apartment has an impressiveoutlook, it makes sense for the apartment's design to be geared towards ensuring it is fully appreciated. A neutral palette coupled with a clean, uncluttered look is a good way to make a view the center of attention.

When this penthouse apartment was remodeled by architect Peter Tow, one of the main objectives was to maximize the views. The 1920s apartment building tapers towards the top, meaning the penthouse apartment is in the enviable position of having windows on both sides.

"The apartment looks out over the Hudson river on one side, and the city on the other, so we wanted to make the most of this outlook by minimizing the detail on the interior," Tow says.

The four-bedroom apartment used to be owned by an older couple who had converted two apartments into one. The young couple who now own the apartment didn't like the fussy interior design – wooden paneling, intricate pillars, and a traditional fireplace.

The apartment was stripped of all the original moldings and details, and walls were painted in China White. Openings between rooms were widened, walls were removed, and in some cases, walls were replaced with opaque glass to enhance the feeling of spaciousness.

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"The idea was for it to be a gallery kind of space – much more contemporary with a loft-like feel," Tow says.

The living area and dining room are now more integrated than before, with the living area defined by a fluffy goat's wool rug. The kitchen and bathrooms were also completely reorganized to create a more modern look.

One of the most striking features of the apartment is the double-sided fireplace. One side opens onto the lounge, the other onto the masterbedroom. The lounge side features a large slab of onyx stone.

"The onyx is fairly extravagant. We had to wait eight months for it to arrive from Italy, and because it was so large, we had to hoist it up the outside of the building," Tow says.

Because onyx is fragile, it is encased between two sheets of glass. The onyx runs from floor to ceiling, and the section above the fireplace is backlit, producing a white glow.

The owners have a large collection of art, and wanted to be able to display it in the best way possible. To add to the gallery feel of the apartment, recessed eyeball lights were installed in a new lowered ceiling.

"The pale walls are ideal for displaying art, and an Arakawa picture-hanging system gives a clean, streamlined look. The Arakawa system, consisting of casters on a metal rail, also allows the owners to change artworks easily," Tow says.

Parquet flooring was kept, but refinished in a much darker walnut stain.

"We knew we wanted a light palette – white walls and pale furnishings – so the floor is a nice contrast. The dark stain also hides the floor's imperfections," Tow says.

Tow worked with the homeowners to choose furniture and accessories for the apartment. The aim was to create a contemporary look, and many items of furniture are modern classics. Colors are mostly neutral, punctuated with the occasional splash of red in the form of cushions, vases, table place settings and paintings.

The relatively limited color palette means that interest must be created through the use of different textures. The living area features leather, metal, wool and wood, and the bedroom's white, cream and chocolate tones are broken up using a mixture of fine and coarsely textured fabrics.

First published date: 03 March 2006

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Credit List

Architect/interior designer Peter Tow, AIA (New York, NY)
Builder Chartwell Builders
Paints Benjamin Moore
Lighting Lucifer DL8 recessed lights from Lightolier
Blinds Hunter Douglas
Living room furniture Coffee table; B&B Italia Solo; rope chair; Flag Halyard by Hans Wegner; leather plywood chairs and sofa; Troy; Platner chrome and glass table from Knoll; Flokati rug from ABC Rugs
Master bedroom furniture Egg chair and footrest; original 1958 design by Arne Jacobson; bed; custom by Chartwell Builders
Vanity Teak, custom by Chartwell Builders
Basin Duravit
Faucets Vola
Shower fittings and shower stall Dornbracht
Bathroom flooring Stone Source
Bathroom tiles Ann Sacks; Stone Source
Toilet Toto