Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Carving up a town house is often an ad hoc, slapdash process. Putting one together again requires more finesse. However, G2 principals Gunnar Burklund and Gari Sprott started with a big advantage when they were charged with just such a renovation, converting a four-story brownstone's two apartments and commercial office back into a single-family residence.
The clients, a New York couple with two children, were not only familiar with the firm's work but knew the principals well personally, too. "They're the kind of friends I'd have bagels and coffee with on Sunday mornings," says Burklund, who lived across the hallway from the couple in San Francisco in the 1980's. A decade later, visiting Burklund and Sprott's own houses in Texas and Colorado, the couple liked what they saw: interiors that were clean and modern yet warm and welcoming. "In New York," says Burklund, "they basically told us to design everything as if it were for ourselves."
To make the kitchen the hub of the reconfigured interior, G2 and architect Ann Foker gutted the house's lower apartment, which comprised two bedrooms and a light-deprived Pullman kitchen on the ground level, plus a sunken double-height living room at the back. Tearing down most of the ground level's nonsupporting walls instantly transformed it into an open plan ready to accommodate a foyer and children's playroom in the front and an eat-in kitchen at the rear.
Located just inside the entry, the playroom derives its playfulness from the colored marbles studding a screen affixed to the glass-paneled front door. The kitchen gets daylight from a corner window and from double-height glazing in the living room, which the space overlooks.
The designers outfitted the 400-square-foot kitchen with gleaming appliances: three ovens, a dishwasher, and a built-in coffeemaking system in stainless steel as well as a glass-fronted wine refrigerator. The counter and integral sink are also stainless steel. Cabinetry is cherrywood, while the two islands are topped in honey-colored maple. Original oak floors got a fresh polyurethane finish.
Above the blue, green, and white mosaic-tile backsplash, chosen to add a dash of color, floats a backlit acrylic storage cabinet. Burklund and Sprott liked the curved shape of its winged door, so they duplicated it in the custom stainless-steel vent hood directly to the left.
The window corner, once occupied by a bedroom, is now a dining nook—its L-shape leather- covered banquette embracing a G2-designed table with a top of satin-etched glass. The dining nook overlooks the back garden, but 1970's design aficionados might prefer the adjacent view: Above the double-height living room hover the chrome rings of three spectacular Paul Rudolph chandeliers.