Manhattan House

House structure

Located in Manhattan’s wholesale flower district, the 2,200-sq.-ft. loft is atypical of its breed since it boasts oversized steel sash window admitting good views not only front and back, but also to one side. The rear portion’s structural irregularities could have been deemed ungainly, and its “dog legs” at both ends might have been written off as useless.

Here, however, the back space is splendidly utilized for the master bedroom at one corner and a flexible study/library/occasional guest space at the other. It was the designer’s intent to smooth the rough edges of the core zone and, within, to accommodate the loft’s two main and service entries, master and guest bathrooms, laundry, part of the kitchen, and storage.

living room and guest space with sleeper sofas

living room and guest space with sleeper sofas

That left the 70-ft.-long by 17-ft.-narrow perimeter body for the main open space, now containing four borderless islands with iconic totems expressing spatial function. Running north to south are a lounge seating group, a magnificent Steinway piano, a dining setup, and a cookery island.

Core and perimeter areas (Gauer calls them served and servant respectively) have dissimilar personalities determined by selected materials: in the core zone, the floor is surfaced with limestone, and all else, on the out-facing side, is covered with maple.

Kitchen and dining space

Kitchen and dining space

Equipment and Furniture Decor inside each Room

In the long slender body, the entire envelope is painted white. Big perpendicularly positioned storage walls, surfaced with silver-dusted Kraft paper, separate the main room from the master suite and the library.

The main room nearby the master suite and library

The main room nearby the master suite and library

Preceding implementation of the design plan was a thorough cleansing of the long-neglected place, last “updated” in the 1970s, when a haphazard attempt at renovation created more confusion than suitability. Like, there was a kitchen that perhaps was meant to be freestanding but ended up neither enclosed nor fully open. Gauer inserted new HVAC, electric wiring, kitchen equipment, and bath appliances. Walls were scraped and replastered, and maple flooring replaced concrete camouflaged by carpeting. “No surface was left untouched,” he notes.

Reading space in library

Reading space in library with a simple table and reading chairs

The setting and space plan determined, aesthetics compatible with the client’s living habits were addressed. Furnishings choices conform with his predilection for sparsity, to the point where the most prominent piece is the grand–as in size and glory–piano. (Yes, the householder plays, for his and his friends’ enjoyment. He also has performed at an amateur concert sponsored by Steinway.)

Bathroom and sleeping space

Bathroom and sleeping space

Asked to describe the so-called design look generally, Gauer, orally cringing at having to resort to a trite yet apt cliche,, calls it “modern without being cold.” Keyed to the generous volume but deliberately kept from appearing too majestic, furniture indeed is contemporary, unfussed and, for lack of a better word, serene. While decidedly not matched, the individual pieces composing the perimeter pods clearly are related to one another. The piano, as noted, is sui generis in its attention-grabbing grandeur.

Cable lighting was selected because it takes only one electrical connect to activate about 20 fixtures, eliminating the need to chop up the ceiling. Individually adjustable dimmers intensify the effect of separation between the centrally spread non-rooms.

The job took nine months. Construction costs came to $110/sq. ft.

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