Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mid-Century NYC Apartment: House Tour

The Building
Our building was built in 1946 and designed by architect Philip Birnbaum, who went on in his later more seasoned years to design Trump Tower. He was an architect better known for his interiors -- his thoughtful use of space and devotion to creating "livable" spaces. Even so, I quite like the exterior of our building.

The Floorplan

The Foyer

I love that this apartment has a formal entryway - a space that is not intended for anything more useful than getting one's bearings upon entering the apartment.

A foyer is one of the hallmarks of the midcentury apartment design. Though it would be considered wasted space in most floor plans today, there's much to be said for having a place to hang your coat, toss your keys, put down your bags when you come in the door. 

I admit that I don't really know quite what to do with this space. Right now I have an awesome mod settee that I inherited and am having reupholstered, so more on that later. And this sweet little midcentury console table that I found at Beall and Bell in Greenport and could not resist. Coming soon, a Sputnick light fixture that seems to be on permanent back order. (I have a paper sphere holding it's place.)

 The Living Room

The living room is a 12 x 20 ft rectangle -- the perfect layout for a back-facing sofa aligned with a library table. And given the bookshelves that replaced the infamous Wall of Mirrors referenced in NY Times "The Hunt" -- how appropriate.

The Dining "Area"

The floorplan draws attention to the dining area with this raised platform. I don't know what the thinking was back in 1946, but the raised platform just screams mid-century, doesn't it? It creates a distinct area for eating, and I appreciate the graceful transition from room to room.

The Kitchen

My first instinct was to rip out the wall, level the raised dining platform, and create an "open floor plan". It would have made the room look immediately spacious upon entering the apartment. But at the time, all of the Renov8or budget was going toward the more needed upgrades in the bathroom.

You know what? I'm so glad that I waited.

Now that I've been living with it, I have come to like this enclosed galley kitchen. It keeps cooking smells in and mess out of sight. For under $4k, we added upper cabinets, painted all of the cabinetry a neutral cream color, replaced sink fixtures, and tiled the backsplash in cream subway tile. The rich cream color has subdued the busy coral granite to the point where I not only don't hate the pinkish stone anymore, I admire it's natural beauty. 

So, this Reno8or learned something by being budget constrained. I learned that simple changes make a world of difference. And it's best to live in a home a while if you can. (It will tell you what it needs.)

The Office/Second Bedroom

Having a second bedroom in NYC is a luxury that was beyond our imagining. And of course it wouldn't have been affordable if we had stayed in Carroll Gardens or moved to Manhattan. This is what makes Queens such a great fit for us.

I found a mid-century style sofa bed for the office/second bedroom. Mom and Dad tested out the bed when they visited the week after we moved in. They said it was comfy (but maybe they were being tactful?).

I made good on my promise to Ross -- a room to keep his guitars in. However, I am definitely eyeing that corner window for my desk!

The Master Bedroom

I have to laugh when I say the words "master bedroom". Our bedroom is HUGE. Really. It's 12 ft x 20 ft. I've seen entire apartments this size in NYC. I barely know what to do with all the extra space (but trust me, I'll figure it out!).

The bedroom has an inviting "bay window" facing east and a fire escape window facing north. I commissioned this fire escape security gate by iron works artist Valessa Monk. You can read about it in my post Security Gates Can Be Pretty. The best part? We face a row of two-story Tudors, so there's nothing blocking the light, and no real reason to have window treatments unless we just want them.

I love waking up to the light streaming in the window and glancing off the metal petals of these ironwork flowers. It is a real work of art.

The Bathroom

Well, if you followed the big reveal, you've seen our new bathroom in all its glory. This room was gut renovated -- taken down to the rafters and beams. Then rebuilt and tiled in beveled white subway tile with a Dwell collection floor by Heath Ceramics (that I just LOVE!). The sink was a big surprise. I took a chance on the Mason Console from Signature Hardware -- an online store that has no bricks and mortar location where you can actually see and touch the products. It was a leap of faith to be sure, but I am not disappointed. It is as high quality as the Kholer fixtures and has exactly the timeless look that I was going for. 

The tub is the Kohler Tea for Two deep soaking tub. It is undermounted. I designed the double apron and deck, fabricated by Empire Cabinetry and Marble in Brooklyn.

The shower is simple subway tile in charcoal gray with light gray grout. We have two showerheads from the Kohler Purist line, an overhead and a handheld, adjustable on the bar. (Great for showers when you don't want to get your hair wet!) The shower door is vintage -- one of the few things the former owners left intact. I had it relazed with clear glass. And where we raised the ceiling in the shower stall, I just left it open at the top.

The chrome medicine cabinets and sconces are from Restoration Hardware, and the quality and heft could not be better. RH's white glove delivery was excellent -- even when I had to return them for a different size.

And so concludes our house tour. I hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment. I WILL reply.