chelsea apartment

interior gut renovation

new york, ny

design: bill peterson

project team: bill peterson, doug kocher

photography: peter aaron/esto

detail photography: brad stein

The challenge of this project was to design a marketable spec apartment that offered a critical solution to the seemingly conflicted demands of the 21st century homebuyer, who, according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders, prefer traditional period styles on the one hand and contemporary open floorplan living, outfitted with state-of-the art technology on the other; nostalgia meets contemporary living & high tech. Solution? ‘Contemporary Victorian’.

The whitewashed perimeter envelope of each room is detailed to match the apartment’s original 1880’s casework and trim, re-establishing its historical context as a critical point of reference and providing a nostalgic element for the buyer. Functional requirements - kitchen equipment, bathroom fixtures and stairs - are accommodated by standalone elements strategically inserted into or cut out of these period rooms for both purpose and effect.

The kitchen and bath are located in one long room on either side of a free floating partition, anchored to the floor, containing the requisite plumbing & electrical and clad with institutional white bathroom tile, symbolic of wet areas in general. Privacy glass spans from the top of the tiled partition wall to the ceiling. The spaces can be further separated by floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that pocket discreetly into slotted crown moldings when closed. In the Living Room, a cut-out section of the finish floor unexpectedly pivots open like a piano top, providing access to stairs below.