Remodeling and Home Design

Five Floors To Reach a Little Piece of Paradise

I was recently called upon by a Property Manager to introduce me to a new owner in one of their small Upper Westside buildings.

Unbeknownst to me, I arrived for the meeting to be greeted by five flights of stairs to reach the door – I walked into a small, dinghy, disheveled space – but what my mind imagined was standing in a small Parisien rooftop flat in the Marais.

I walked out with a new client, and I had a big challenge before me – not only was it small, but she wanted many things and she had a tight budget. This was no more than 350 square feet of living space – but through the very tall French doors was a dreary unused 120 sq ft deck – almost equal to the basic open space.

I loved working on this project and with her – she was a single, a medical professional, fun, smart, quirky and loves small spaces. She owns a small ski house in Vermont and on the hunt for a houseboat in the City waters

She loves to cook and entertains family and friends with sit down dinners. I approached the kitchen area first by removing the wall separating it from the soon to be living/dining area. Because she didn’t like sitting at counter height, I combined a new drop counter that could work as a serving area for cocktails or for her alone time for breakfast and dinner. This area also held her wine refrigerator which was on her wish list. I designed custom cabinets so that no inch was wasted; upper cabinets had inserted glass doors with backlights to bring light toward the ceiling and to display her collection of china pieces. We created an L-shaped kitchen to incorporate a 24” wide counter depth Leibher refrigerator/freezer, Bosch dishwasher, cooktop and oven. With under cabinet lighting bouncing off the glass tile backsplash and the Nano glass countertops – the kitchen glistens just as light off the dark sea waters. For a cook that uses her kitchen, the storage capacity doubled from what was originally there.

When she entertains with sitdown dinners – we selected a bench style sofa for ease of seating, and seating from her kitchen counter is brought over to the expandable table – she can entertain 12! When not used for entertaining, it sits as a vanity console in her bedroom.

This apartment had a working fireplace that the contractor had to work his magic to bring the flue up to fire code as she had intentions of using it. I couldn’t save the original opalescent mosaic tile surround so I found multi-colored hexagon mosaic tile through Artistic Tile. We captured 2 feet from a closet in the bedroom and incorporated it into the one closet the apartment had near the entry it was split 1/3 given to the front for guest coats and her own outerwear and the remaining 2/3 was concealed by silk panels she collected in her travels and was organized as a closet/dressing area – lit by a small pink crystal chandelier!

We saved the tub, but replaced the tiles with glazed white beveled subway tiles and black and white hexagon floor tiles. A mahogany vanity had a sink rim big enough for working space for her daily routine. A recessed medicine cabinet in a surround of mirror helped to visually open up this tiny space.

What truly expanded this space was the reincarnation of the deck – laid down a paved floor and added lounge seating, lighting and a poly-rattan bar/serving piece to bring her gatherings outside. An outdoor outlet was added for her Christmas tree in the winter. A rose bush is being trained to trail along and hide the perimeter chicken wire ad a summer hydrangea tree is waiting to bloom this summer – it’ll soften the surrounding brick buildings.

I took this small space and turned it into a functional, well designed home that marked off all the checks off the client’s list – and yet it still makes me feel like I am in that rooftop flat in Paris.

The best reward for me is that she is in love with her home and I have a new friend and hunting for the next small space – I too am in love!