The Insider: Gut Reno of Outmoded Lower East Side Co-op Capitalizes on Stunning Bridge Views

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    The red-brick high-rise, one of a dozen apartment buildings known as the East River Coops, may not be the stuff of design dreams at first glance. But open the door to the light-flooded 14th floor apartment belonging to architect Gregory Canaras, a principal of Brooklyn-based League Studio Architects, and you’re sure to gasp.

    “The view sold us,” said Canaras, recalling how he and his husband, who purchased the two-bedroom unit in 2013 with an eye toward expanding their family, “looked past the condition of the apartment, which was untouched since the 1960s,” with a walled-off kitchen and oak parquet floors in terrible shape.

    Then Canaras, along with his colleague Andrew Magnes, with whom he founded League Studio in 2015, lit into converting the 1,000-square-foot space into a family home, with a nursery for the child they have since welcomed into their lives.

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    “We took down partitions and rinky-dink closets at the entry” to make a more gracious foyer, Canaras said, and removed a wall separating the kitchen from the main living space. “That one move opened up the view from the entrance, giving you a full view of the picture window and the bridge in the background as you enter the apartment.”

    The jewel-box kitchen, with glass tiles and a custom walnut island, “is in the same place as the old kitchen, but we made a little box and soffit around it” to set it off, the architect said. “It’s the centerpiece of the space.”

    New flooring of floating cork, laid over the deteriorated parquet, an all-new, luxuriously tiled bath and a combination of new and vintage furnishings from a variety of sources complete the transition of the dated apartment to a bright, open home for a modern family.

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    A bold red sectional sofa from Bo Concept furnishes the main living space practically single-handedly.

    Canaras purchased chrome coffee table legs from From the Source and paired them with a recycled table top.

    A photographic print with strong horizontal lines is graphic punctuation next to a door leading to the outdoor terrace, another of the northeast-facing apartment’s selling points.

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    The newly built soffit and wall flare slightly, creating an angle intended to draw the eye toward the view.

    A custom walnut dining island, crafted by Brooklyn’s Uhuru Design, becomes a buffet for easy entertaining.

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Kitchen cabinets in two tones of laminate veneer came from the kitchen company Leicht New York. Aqua glass wall tile was sourced from Nemo Tile.

    The sink and stove are “tucked back in the utility zone of the kitchen,” Canaras said, out of sight of the living room. “The parts of the kitchen that face out have a warmer palette, so it doesn’t feel like the kitchen is intruding into the living space.”

    The built-in bookshelf was added because, Canaras said, “We discovered some empty space there.”

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    The dining nook is furnished with light-looking modern pieces, including two white plastic 1960s chairs by Danish designer Verner Panton.

    A span of mirror at the end of the hall effectively expands light and space.

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Toward the rear of the apartment, an updated bathroom with a transom window provides light and air circulation to the corridor servicing the bedrooms.

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn League Studio Lower East Side

    Except for the original tub, which was retained and reglazed, the bathroom is entirely new. All four walls are covered floor to ceiling with ceramic tiles from Nemo Tile “to make it feel more like a spa,” Canaras said.

    A sink purchased on Overstock.com was mated to a teak piece found at From the Source, with plumbing fixtures from Hansgrohe.

    A piece of teak along the edge of the shower glass “warms up the space a bit,” the architect said.

    [Photos by Eric Laverty]

    Check out ‘The Insider’ mini-site: brownstoner.com/the-insider

    The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning.

    Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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