In a Nutshell
Suzanne Gannon -- Interior Design, 3/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
|PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADRIAN WILSON|
If you're an engineer, married to a restaurateur, you might consider yourself equipped to handle your own kitchen renovation. The owners of this New York loft were, indeed, on the verge of personally overseeing the renovation of their entire apartment, a job that entailed combining two one-bedrooms in a former Singer sewing-machine factory. Then, after rethinking the daunting task, the couple sought the counsel of a friend's firm, David Yum Architects. The soft-spoken David Yum listened quietly before providing feedback on the extensive program these prospective clients hoped to cram into their combined 2,000 square feet—threebathrooms and a full-service bar, just for starters. Eventually, the would-be do-it-yourselfers were won over by his determination to strike a balance between beauty for its own sake and functionality for a family of three.
In order to use the available space most efficiently, Yum grouped the three bathrooms and space for mechanical equipment in what he calls the “core” of the apartment, a rectangular volume wrapped in horizontal-grain walnut. “It's like a coconut, a hard shell with a beautiful interior,” he explains. On the side facing the hallway, he inserted two doors to reveal the coconut “meat,” the powder room and the child's bathroom.
He made the powder room as grown-up as a business suit, complete with pinstripes. On the ceiling and two of the walls, he installed back-painted gray glass tile separated by runs of thin white ceramic tile. He covered the remaining walls and the floor in speckled brown and copper-colored glass tile that mimics terrazzo.
Next door, he says, he made the child's bathroom “fun and lively without being Disney.” He installed vivid blue glass mosaics both on the front of the tub and on the wall behind it, then clad the surrounding walls in white subway tile to create a nautical effect. Since the bathroom lacked windows, he devised a complex schemefor overhead lighting: He concealed fluorescent ceiling fixtures behind a canopy of interlocking polyethylene strips—think billowing spinnakers on a regatta's worth of sailboats. The design proved so difficult to explain to the contractor that five of his own employees had to hand-cut and assemble it themselves.
For the master bathroom, he went with a look as strong and masculine as the captain's quarters on a luxury liner. He constructed a wengé-veneered unit to support the vanity's counter—its white Corian intended to coax forth the wood's figuring—as well as hanging a pair of round mirrors, porthole-style. In his approach to the shower stall, he revealed a hand deft with optical illusion: By installing horizontal bands of tile that diminished in width as they ascended, he lifted the apparent height of the ceiling.
With elaborate tilework established as the key characteristic of the three bathrooms, Yum switched to slatted screensto define the open kitchen and give the cook a bit of culinary privacy—while still promoting transparency and allowing light to shine through. He positioned the screens to conceal a structural column and to partition the kitchen from the area containing the wine refrigerator and service bar. Then he carved out a tall, narrow pass-through, lined in mirror, to connect the adjacent spaces.
To jibe with the couple's taste for commercial kitchens, Yum chose stainless steel forappliances, the bulk of them to be housed along the back wall. He also selected solid walnut for cabinet doors and the breakfast bar, white marble with gray and green veining for counters, cherry-red resin for shelving and paneling, and a mix of cylindrical pendant fixtures, recessed ceiling cans, and wall washers to bathe everything in a warm glow. Delicious.
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