Tour a Live-Work Loft in New York City

An award-winning redo of an industrial urban loft strikes the balance between minimalism and multifunction.

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Photo By: Paul Warchol

Let There Be Light

This minimalist 5,000-square-foot urban loft is in an industrial building built in the early 1900s in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. "The flow of light that comes across the windows through living space ... allows the apartment to feel very luminous," says architect Katherine Chia. The renovation by Desai Chia Architecture won a 2018 AIA Institute Honor Award for interior architecture.

Steel the Show

Raw steel is used for the backsplash and island in the open kitchen. The backsplash is lit by LED lights for a halo-like effect, and the island has shelving on both sides in the black-and-white kitchen. The heft and density of the backsplash feel sculptural while the deep ceiling cutout over the island feels like a skylight, Chia says. Their lighting decisions, inspired by American artist James Terrell, created drama and calmness, she says.

Minimalistic Welcome

The homeowner is a photographer, and an entry vestibule leads to a reception area for clients. The walk-in closet connects to a bedroom. "We talked a lot about how one lives and works in the same space," Chia says. "Multiple spaces need to do double duty and be very flexible to accommodate multiple users." American white oak planks are used for the flooring, cabinetry and wall paneling.

Down to Business

A custom table by Donald Judd and shelves made from Baltic birch plywood are statement pieces in the reception area. The red chairs also were designed by Judd. "If everything were the same color, it might just feel a little bit too much wood," Chia says.

Uniform Palette

White shelves and walls create a clean aesthetic for the homeowner and photographer.

Striped Success

The renovated loft bathroom has a walk-in shower, striped marble floors, and a resin vanity and walls. "We were able to be creative from a sculptural point of view," Chia says.

White Wash

A custom sink is fused into a resin wall in the bathroom. The clean canvas allowed the designers to choose a strong pattern on the floor with a striped marble. The durability of the resin and ease of maintenance appealed to the designers. "Surfaces can reflect a very subtle glow of light. In the bathrooms this resin really worked well," Chia says.

Optical Illusion

A walk-in closet next to the photographer’s studio space features two frosted glass panels. The design uses wall planes to sculpt the light and make windowless areas feel airy. "Those floating closet elements with the light below it — that was very intentional," Chia says.

Rock the Plank

American white oak is used for the contemporary custom cabinetry. The same 12-inch width was used for the floors and cabinets.

Wide Open Space

The architects cut the ceiling planes to encourage light to bounce and anchor seating areas. The public spaces include a black-and-white kitchen, dining and living areas with architectural elements, such as cast-iron columns that are original to the loft. The architects used raw steel, aluminum, white oak and LED lighting. "We wanted all of the spaces to have a seamless aesthetic," Chia says.

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