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Upper West Side Studio

Formerly a hotel built in the early 1900, this Upper West Side studio has been completely transformed into a bright and stylish contemporary home full of space-saving design tricks where a couple can comfortably cook and entertain.

Built in 1905, this former Hotel has all of the characters (including oh-so-high ceilings) that have come to define turn of the century Beaux-arts style buildings.

Architect Rachel Robinson of durodeco took the brief from her clients, two young New York professionals to turn the apartment, which was in disrepair (with very little storage) into a warm, modern home. Understanding how her clients would live and use the space was integral to her designing them their perfect home,

“I think you have to come from a starting point of understanding how someone lives in their space so that you can create a place for every important piece of their life.  My goal is to understand people’s specific needs and create a custom solution that is designed around them.  I think that’s especially important when space is limited and you have to make every piece of the design purposeful and thoughtful”

Considerable changes were made by Robinson to the floor plan, the biggest change was to move the kitchen out toward the living area, bringing natural light to it. This created a space that felt more open for entertaining, despite the new wall of storage that we added to create a separate sleeping area.

Critical to the success of the design was the use of the small footprint design principle ‘multiplicity’ that is, the idea that individual items and spaces should serve more than a single purpose in order to maximise the footprint.

The key feature of the living room is a curved wall niche that creates a soft focal point and a natural place for shelving and entertainment. This small but impactful design feature enables the room to feel focused around a new element and creates a separation between the living and kitchen areas.

With such a small footprint, Robinson needed to get creative with formal dining areas. There simply wasn’t enough space for a permanent dining table, so she created a ‘murphy table’, a table that folds down from the wall, and when not in use looks very much like a piece of wall mounted art. The custom-built frame is white oak with a natural finish to match the floors and floating shelves.

The sleeping alcove is designed to be the most private and cozy space within the apartment.  Separated from the living room, it creates the feeling of a 1-bedroom apartment within a studio footprint.  A wall-to-wall custom upholstered headboard was made to fit exactly within the width of the room. The space is accented by two glass pendant lights and tiny drum-like nightstands with built-in storage.

The bathroom utilises a very small footprint and minimal existing natural light. An existing tub has been converted into a shower with glass enclosure to bring in light from the window. and bathroom door is etched glass, further allowing light to reach into the space.  The door is arched to correspond to the design of the niche and entry door.

This enchanting use of 35sqm is a perfect example of an Architect moulding to the building they are renovating within. Robinson says, ‘renovating is a much more sustainable way of living in cities than tearing down and rebuilding and is crucial for our growing cities.  It also helps preserve existing architectural landmarks and give them a new life for new residents while  keeping  the characteristics of the neighbourhood.’

Photos by Nicholas Venezia