Virtual WindowCheck out these spaces with style that beats the norm. An architect finds clever ways to maximize his New York space, sweet treats become design inspiration for one L.A. couple, glass flooring brings a unique touch to a vertical space and a Seattle architect takes advantage of his extra high ceilings.
Architect Joel Sanders believes that it's time to seriously reconsider traditional notions of domestic space—to stop thinking about closed-off rooms, but rather, fluid zones of domestic activity. It's a principle he's put into practice for his high-profile New York clients and recently in the redesign of his own West Village apartment. His 650-square-foot home is designed both for his comfort and to exercise his own architectural creativity, a means to find clever new ways to maximize a sense of open space.
The windows do more than just bathe the apartment in natural light; the windowsills offer a continuous block for storage thanks to their recessed pocket. Sanders also cut out a recessed area next to the window to mimic the size and shape of the window.
Louvered WallStarting from a traditional one bedroom he found ugly and closed-off, Sanders took down the wall separating the bedroom from the living area and installed a louvered wall instead. The bedroom features curved walls, and a continuous window wall ensconces the entire space. At one point, a window passes from the kitchen through the bath allowing one to take in the 8th Avenue view from the kitchen—through what is traditionally the most private of spaces. A sliding panel is available to close the bathroom off when it's in use. Cavities throughout the apartment walls allow Sanders to hide away the radiator and other items whose presence might run counter to his desire for openness and spaciousness.
Contemporary LivingSilverlake Sweet
Greg Han and Emily Ho were given carte blanche by their apartment manager to renovate their slightly run-down 1917 apartment in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. And so they did. Inspired by their favorite toys and desserts, they painted and decorated the 639-square-foot home with fresh colors and bold shapes—highlighting the unit's vintage details. The couple especially liked all the little rooms, where they could create unique spaces for their many activities, such as sewing and reading.
The couple's first big decision was to designate their "big" room as an exclusive living room. The living room's contemporary furniture is low to the floor to accentuate the room's high ceilings. They put their bed in the dining nook off the kitchen. They were initially concerned about cooking odors wafting into their sleeping space, but having a real living room to entertain guests outweighed the fumes.
Awkward KitchenThe kitchen, actually two small rooms, had its own unique challenges. One room contains the stove and sink, and the other contains the refrigerator, hot water heater and minimal shelves. So the pair purchased a portable 1940s kitchenette with shelf, cupboard and drop-down counter space.
Cubism in PracticeCity Cousin
Larry Wente describes his compact loft in New York City as a total wreck when he first bought it. However, it has an extraordinary view through two double-height windows looking out on Midtown Manhattan, Central Park, and in the foreground—the new glass planetarium at the Natural History Museum. His first goal, for budget and aesthetic reasons, was to recycle some materials he had used to build an upstate weekend house three years earlier. This included maple flooring, kitchen counter granite, and waxed steel elements for the stairwell and window surrounds. While the feeling inside the apartment is dramatically different than its country cousin, Wente finds stability in having many familiar elements in both places.
To enlarge the perception of space, Wente laid out the 670-square-foot apartment like a three-dimensional cube—using every inch. In addition to the two-story windows, he installed two-story mirrors, walls, and cabinets to extend up through both levels. He made a red poplar screen to wrap around the refrigerator and separate the kitchen from the living area. He created hidden storage spaces and (irregular) closets out of many underused recesses in the walls.
Roman TouchIt's dominated by an oversized painting of Rome. Large artwork in a small space adds a dramatic impact, whereas lots of little artwork chops up a small space. On either side of the painting, full-height mirrors visually expand the space. In contrast to the warm colors and historic look of the painting, the dining table is actually a surgery table (dramatically cheaper than a stainless steel dining table), which slides in and out of the wall to accommodate up to eight guests.
Glass FloorAn unusual tempered glass floor on the loft level allows light to filter through from the first floor. The untraditional glass flooring gives the loft a floating feel. The loft contains his bedroom, walk-in closet and office with two-story bookcase. Because so many design elements—windows, bookcase, walls—carry up from the first floor to the second, the eye is drawn upward, so even though the apartment has a small footprint, there's a strong sense of verticality that makes it feel grand.
Light and VerticalLess is More
David Sarti built his first home in Seattle's Judkins Park partly because he could bike to work, but primarily because he could afford the 40-by-50-foot lot. In a neighborhood where builders put six townhouses on a site that size, he built a single house much smaller than the allowable footprint. He wanted to do his part to preserve Seattle as a "city of little houses." When he first designed this efficient dwelling, it seemed like he had ample room to meet all his needs, but something happened during the year-long process—he got married. So not only did he have to reconfigure everything for his new bride, he even came up with a long-term scheme to split his office into a nursery.
Sarti's 775-square-foot home is more about vertical volume than anything else. The 14-foot ceilings in the living room, sparse furnishings, light-colored walls and honey-toned stairway and kitchen cabinetry emphasize the sense of expansiveness.
Under The StairsSarti cleverly crafted the entire home to maximize storage space. A rolling kitchen island and one-person powder room fit cleanly under the stairs. Nearby, a telescoping dining table tucked under a cabinet slides out to seat eight.
Dream WorkshopHe also added a carport-like workshop outside the front door. The floor-to-ceiling, translucent doors on two sides let in a lot of light and open up the shop to let large materials and equipment pass through.