Manhattan Apartment Gains Space

A family of four finds the space they crave by buying the apartment next door and turning two NYC railroad apartments into one dream modern apartment.
By: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien

©Photography by Charlotte Jenks Lewis; Styling by Jeffrey Lee Butler; Interior Design by Amy Lee

Apartment Living

With the help of designer Amy Lee, Tracy and Marc Ross, with their sons Dustin, 17, and Dean, 14, took on an extensive apartment remodel for their home in Manhattan.

Bare Before

Tracy and Marc bought the neighboring unit and did a complete gut remodel to combine the two apartments. Featured here is an image of where the dining room started out. The family used to have a small dining space. The new space is so much more conducive to large, extended family meals.

Hidden Appliances

The kitchen appliances are all hidden by matching cabinetry fronts. The architect, Greg Epstein, felt that the appliances should disappear into the clean kitchen design. That way, the custom concrete countertop and the red backsplash really pop. Everyone can be in the kitchen around the island without the space feeling crowded.

Cozy Modern Kitchen

“I love the fact that we have so much storage in the kitchen, and everything is easily found,” says Tracy. The recessed lighting and dropped ceiling add a cozy vibe to the modern space.

Casual Dining

The family most often eats around the island, but they do use the dining room as well. “The gray concrete island is amazing in that we can prepare food, eat and do homework all at the same time,” says Tracy.

Candy Apple Red

“Although the kitchen design has very clean lines, I wanted it to have some organic elements,” says interior designer Amy Lee, of A Simple Room. The kitchen countertops are highly polished concrete in contrast to the white cabinetry. For the backsplash, Amy felt the red tile was the perfect option and in line with the original goal of the space. “The red tile is so beautifully organic and is as deep and rich as a candied red apple,” says Amy. “To maintain that depth, we installed the tile with a deep red grout which helps keep it solid without any visible grout lines.”

Custom Storage

The bookshelves in the family room were custom designed by architect Greg Epstein. The entire apartment (except the entry hall and bathrooms) is brand new hardwood flooring. Amy chose a custom on-site stained walnut flooring. The bookshelves are also a space to store decorative objects.

The Fun Room

The family room is a place for Tracy, Marc and the kids to hang out (they watch a lot of football), as well as a place the kids crash with their friends. “The family room furniture was all about comfort, yet remaining stylish,” says Amy.

Comfortable Seating

"We absolutely love the sectional, since it can seat many people comfortably," says Tracy. The family has the room set up so they can wheel out a ping pong table and play darts.

Larger Gatherings

“We have a lot of friends and family who come by, and if we are more than four, then we eat at the dining room table,” says Tracy. The table is 9 feet long, so they can easily fit a lot of people. Amy chose dining chairs with soft curves to help visually warm up the space. The little details give the dining room a simple, glamorous edge. Tracy loves that the dining room is its own separate, unique space, while still being very close to the kitchen.

Big Light Above

“I wanted to create a simple, minimalist dining area that felt warm and inviting,” says interior designer Amy Lee. “The reflection of the round dining light fixture on the brushed stainless steel table is so beautiful.” Tracy asked Amy to find a cool, unique lighting fixture and a great-looking large table that isn't wood (only because the family previously had wood and wanted a change).

Extra Storage

There is cabinet storage under the windows all around the dining table, which is so helpful. The storage solutions help keep the living space clutter free so the apartment retains that streamlined, modern look.

Bands of Color

Since the living room, kitchen and dining area are in a large, open space, Amy’s design challenge was to give each area its own special identity while having them complement one another as well. She achieved this by anchoring the living space with a very large custom-silk area rug containing over 20 unique ribbons of bold colors. Tracy requested a very colorful rug, and when they couldn’t find the right one, Amy designed it and had it made. The living room is the couple’s relaxing space away from the TV and the family room. “The kids can be in the family room, and we can close the door and be in our own world,” says Tracy.

Glass Doors

The double glass doors let in lots of light. “The only thing we have left to do is landscape our outdoor space,” says Tracy. “I love that the living room is pretty and stylish but totally comfortable and unintimidating.”

Modern Fireplace

The fireplace is made of concrete to match the kitchen countertops. While the fireplace is a minimalist design, “the concrete finish is very warm and has a tremendous organic rich depth,” says Amy, which is contrary to what one might assume with concrete.

Pretty Powder Room

Amy’s goal for the powder room was for the space to feel simple, yet somewhat glamorous. “The wallpaper is pure white but sparkles, so having the round glass globes reflect off the wallpaper is stunning, like shimmering diamonds,” says Amy Lee. “If the lighting was too clean and the wallpaper had no texture, the powder room would feel very cold.” The couple wanted a powder room that doubled as a bathroom for guests but feels very zen. There is a small shower, so guests can have their own bathroom space.