Carole Nicksin -- Interior Design, 9/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Double-sided storage units, under-counter shelves, and similarly efficient stowage devices are rarely found in a 2,800-square-foot apartment—but you're very likely to encounter them on the yachts that Scott Kaufman builds. "On boats, we're always fighting for an extra millimeter," says Kaufman, who hired Stefania Rinaldi of Studio Rinaldi to do just that at the generously proportioned New York loft he'd purchased with his wife, Harriet. "I worked every day with Stefania and the carpenters on the project," Kaufman says. "Everybody really got into the spirit, and we went to a lot of effort to save space."
Besides the plentiful storage, Rinaldi's main task in turning the huge raw space into a two-bedroom residence was to balance openness and intimacy—not easy when an expansive combination living area, dining area, and kitchen commands one third of the layout. To establish visual continuity, the architect used a limited range of colors and textures: walnut or terrazzo for flooring, additional walnut for cabinetry, a full spectrum of whites. "Warm materials repeat everywhere but with a little bit of variety, so each room has its own personality," she explains.
One of her prime goals was to downplay the utilitarian aspect of the kitchen so that it would meld seamlessly with the living and dining areas. "Since the kitchen is part of the living space, the cabinetry had to look like furniture," Rinaldi says. The kitchen's custom walnut cabinetry with aluminum trim, for example, harmonizes with the dark upholstery and chrome frames of the living area's seating, a mixture of vintage and Italian contemporary.
The kitchen counters are off-white concrete finished with a coat of wax, which makes them soft and sensuous to the touch. They were poured on-site to eliminate seams, however small cracks and imperfections give the surfaces an organic look that Rinaldi says she welcomes, "like the veins in marble."
A concrete counter tops the island between the kitchen and living area, and the latter side is fitted with shelves that mirror the bookcases tucked beneath the windows across the room. Two-sided storage also divides the master suite, but this low run of walnut cabinetry is topped with a set of Antonio Citterio's sliding panels of aluminum-framed frosted glass, allowing sunlight from the bedroom to enter the windowless bath.
As a contrast to the bathroom's otherwise clean, straight lines, Kaufman chose a free-form mahogany slab as a counter for the floating vanity. "Mahogany is used in boatbuilding because it stands up well to water," Rinaldi points out. The natural edge of the slab also makes it look like it's about to set sail on the imaginary cruising yacht George Nakashima.