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This Open-Plan NYC Apartment Is the Ultimate Live-Work Fantasy

Known for their innovative designs in the Bay Area, Maydan Architects helped their California-transplant clients recreate that contemporary West Coast cool back East. The open-plan, infinitely adaptable results are a work-from-home paradise.

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Photo: Peter Kubilus

Bringing This Home Into the 21st Century Meant Starting From Scratch

Built three decades ago when cutting-edge tech still meant suitcase-sized desktop computers and flip phones, this 1,087-square-foot apartment on New York City’s Upper West Side wasn’t exactly on the level when its current owners decided to purchase and make it their home. Literally — the floors and walls weren’t straight and level — and the existing layout closed off the sweeping city views that made it special. It was time to go back to the drawing board.

“My clients are a young couple in their twenties, both building their professional careers,” says Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Silicon Valley-based Maydan Architects. “Our goal was to design a modern, stylish, minimalistic apartment that will be sophisticated, warm and comfortable.” Both their life stage and the city’s life stage informed Mary’s approach. “Since COVID-19 was still pretty dominant when we were designing the apartment, we aimed for a floor plan that allowed both of them to work from home, although we were hoping of course that they would eventually not have to work from home full-time,” she recalls. The sleek “home in the sky” she and her team created is packed with flexible, high-concept features that will adapt to their needs for decades to come. This is what the future of apartment living looks like.

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Photo: Courtesy of Maydan Architects

Before: A Dated Layout Stifled the Main Living Space

When it came to overhauling this apartment, “versatility was a major requirement,” Mary explains. “Back in Silicon Valley, where they are both originally from, houses are very large. Our main objective was to create a space that feels large and airy. Given that it is a New York apartment of only 1,100 square feet, we relied on multifunctional spaces to achieve this. We eliminated several walls to create a big open space that includes the kitchen, living room and dining room as well as a library and work area.” Bid that boxed-in, shadowy vestibule farewell; this is the last you’ll see of it.

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Photo: Peter Kubilus

In Close Quarters, Every Wall Should Meet Homeowners’ Specific Needs

In reconfiguring the apartment and starting all over, Mary had the opportunity to create a bespoke material experience for her clients. “This apartment is the first apartment that they own, so we pretty much started from scratch,” she says. “Having a carte blanche is wonderful. It gives you the opportunity to dream together.”

In this reimagined entryway, every feature contributes to their comfort. At right, a sleek bank of floor-to-ceiling cabinets creates near-invisible storage. To the left, a smoked-glass panel slides to conceal work materials (and creates a lovely contrast with the white walls while doing it). Straight ahead, more sliding panels create a guest room that can appear and disappear at will.

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Photo: Courtesy of Maydan Architects

Before: Uneven, Dark Flooring Felt Dated and Concrete-Slab Ceilings Limited Lighting

Mary’s team had their work cut out for them, especially given the streamlined redesign they had in mind. “Nothing in the building was plumb or flush, which rendered the execution of precise, trimless minimalistic details difficult,” she says. “The project’s phenomenal general contractor handled these imperfections by rebuilding and leveling everything.”

The overhauls didn’t stop there: “For electrical upgrades, we had to rebuild the ceiling (which was originally just a concrete slab) to fit lighting in the ceiling,” she explains. “It’s a huge upgrade.” Get ready to see much more of the neighborhood that once played peekaboo here as well; the eventual views from the main living space are worlds away from these glimpses.

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