When a couple with two cats, a piano and a load of “stuff” purchased a run-down apartment measuring barely 800 square feet, they called upon General Assembly to maximize the use of the space and make it a pleasant environment to come home to.
The two-bedroom apartment, on the top floor of a vintage row house, had “a weird layout and a lot of strange nooks and crannies,” said Sarah Zames, who founded the Gowanus-based design firm in 2010. On the plus side, it had “all this charm and character,” with brick walls, pine floors, high ceilings and ample natural light.
“Everything got stripped down to the studs and redone,” said Zames, with a brand new bath and kitchen located in their original positions to make use of existing risers.
General Assembly’s team switched around the apartment’s two bedrooms so that the larger is in a rear corner of the apartment; the smaller, which serves as guest room and study, is now off the living room. Sliding doors on that smaller room open fully, “so you get a sense of the whole space,” Zames said. “It makes the apartment feel a lot bigger.”
“We did built-ins everywhere and tried to get in as much storage as we could,” said Zames, taking advantage of the high sloped ceiling. In another major move, they replaced an existing brick fireplace with a custom-built one made of steel, with a decorative finish of troweled concrete.
Zames balanced new steel detailing, the dark-hued fireplace, and a near-black wall and kitchen cabinets with white oak millwork and pale concrete in the bath and kitchen to keep things on the bright side, and made a point of incorporating the work of local lighting designers into the mix.
E.L. Contracting was the GC.
The apartment’s entry door is down a flight of stairs. A new custom steel railing takes up minimal space.
The library ladder from Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. allows access to high-up storage and can be moved around the apartment.
Doors on the second bedroom/study slide open to create a long sight line through the space.
The custom fireplace, with a troweled-concrete finish, anchors a corner of the living room.
There’s a pull-down projection screen above the piano for movie-watching.
A custom sectional sofa came with the homeowners from their previous residence.
The light sconces on the wall are from Brooklyn’s Apparatus.
A new skylight in the living room further augments the abundant natural light.
The kitchen is “tiny, but all you need,” Zames said, with custom-built cabinetry painted Black Blue from Farrow & Ball, and pulls from Liz’s Antique Hardware in Los Angeles. The countertop and backsplash are poured concrete. The light fixture above came from Brooklyn’s Workstead.
The farmhouse sink and faucet were existing and were retained; the range is a Bertazzoni. The floor’s pale gray chevron-patterned tile came from Stone Source.
Patterned floor tile from Commune is a small detail that forms a threshold into the master bedroom.
General Assembly fireproofed the bedrooms’ original beams.
The custom dresser set into the wall is deeper than it looks, with most of its volume in a closet on the other side of the wall
Dark wall color (the same as on the lower kitchen cabinets) gives the guest room/study a moody aspect. In addition to the futon on the daybed, there’s one stored beneath that can be spread on the floor.
The cool light fixture over the bed is from Apparatus.
All the built-ins in the apartment, including the daybed, storage and desk in this room, were designed by General Assembly and custom-built.
There’s a track for the rolling ladder above the desk.
Once again, troweled concrete was the material of choice for the sink and tub surround in the skylit bathroom.
The wall-hung Toto toilet is a space-saver with a nice clean look.
See the apartment’s funky condition in the “before” photo below:
[Photos by Joe Fletcher, except “before” photo]
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