Lustbader Apartment

New York, New York, 2000

The project was a renovation of an apartment in a generic, 1960s-era white brick building with very low ceilings and little individual character. The initial program called for replacing the fixtures and materials of the bathroom, but during the design process the client began to question his utilization of the space; the program grew to encompass the
entire apartment and all of its furnishings.

The strategy was to accept the building type and space for what it was while, through a critical editing process, refining the existing apartment to accentuate certain aspects. Strategically inserted millwork was used to accentuate spatial relationships, and the custom-designed and selected furniture was used to maximize the perception of space. The entire project was a manipulation of space through the use of detail, material and color, foregrounding and accentuating certain elements while visually recessing others.

Built-in millwork at the window incorporated ventilation units and provided storage. Mattress and box spring were lowered to the floor and built into a mahogany frame to exaggerate the height of the space. Furnishings were kept spare.

The bathroom became a spatial puzzle of interlocking wet and dry zones delineated through the use of limestone, mirror, and blue glass tile. The tub and shower were merged into a single entity to conserve the maximum amount of space. Restricted from relocating any partitions, space was carved from an adjacent closet to serve as a recessed linen compartment straddling the wet and dry zones at the shower. Likewise, the medicine cabinet was inserted into the mirror wrapping the room and the shower’s pool-light housing penetrates the kitchen cabinetry.

The living room was reconfigured and its lines edited to simplify and clarify the space. The millwork at the windows was designed to incorporate storage and ventilation units. The existing painted steel doorframes were retained, but custom mahogany, glass, and metal panel doors were inserted - with nothing solid - to ensure one was always aware of an additional space beyond. The key strategy was borrowing space - real or perceived - from adjacent “territory” throughout the project.

Status: Built
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Shelly Steffee