NYC Reality: Quarantine project Spring 2020: Interior decoration for a lower Manhattan studio

To stay sane during the quarantine from March 15 to May 15 this year, I took a distant interior decoration course! I always had interest in drafting and architectural drawings along with applying design principles for small spaces. But, the COVID-19 isolation days provided a perfect opportunity to go for this interest of mine!

The “before photographs” shown above are of the space. As this project is for education purpose and not for profit, I used the photographs available on public domain. Located in lower Manhattan, New York City, this is a open concept loft studio space of 1000 square feet that should transform into kitchen, dining, study, sleeping, living, working out or entertaining guests based on the situation. The clients are moving to this new loft, very typical pre-war buildings of the neighborhood. They need separate space for activities in case each person is doing something different. They don’t like the existing colonial style wood work.

Imaginary client profile:

Jonathan Doe –

  • International filmmaker who travels a lot for shooting, promotion and awards
  • Avid reader of performance art books, magazines and music
  • Plays piano to relax at home
  • Works on minor amount of film editing at home
  • Entertains film cast and crews at home

His color preferences are dark green, rich burgundy and lemon yellow. His style preferences are Bohemian, eclectic and international. There are a lot of artworks and accessories collected from all over the world over time which need to be displayed as a large, cohesive arrangement. His special requests are: recommendation for remodeling the bathroom for 2 people’s use without tearing down the bathroom walls and keep the washer dryer units close to the bathroom.

Davide Doe –

  • Director of scientific programs at a non-profit organization
  • Enjoys chef-style, extravagant, Italian cooking at home for relaxing
  • Highly interested in up and coming electronic home gadgets
  • Fitness conscious, but doesn’t want a home gym taking up too much of space
  • Travels moderately with partner and for work
  • Connoisseur of wine from around the world

His color preferences include metallic colors, such as, gold, silver, bronze and white. His style preference is blend of classic and contemporary style. He likes the current transitional style of the open kitchen with marble counter top, under cabinet light, ceramic tiles and the modern kitchen appliances. His special requests are: a multipurpose, fold-able/extendable, modern furniture and technology for every activity at home so the space can transform based on the need. He also wants an indoor, seasonal herbs garden for his Italian cooking activities.

Site evaluation (virtual), rough sketch and floor plan

3 furniture layout ideas

Choosing layout 3 over the other two

Layout 1 is a traditional concept with large furniture pieces and open airy space. But, the lack of multi-purpose furniture limits the space from entertaining many visitors and carrying out many activities at once. Layout 2 tries to incorporate some modern furniture concepts but ends up making the space too cramped. There are not enough space to move around the big furniture pieces. The formal dining room, although is an ode to the classic style, with frequent travel lifestyle of the clients, it will just sit there gathering dust. Finally, the only windows in this loft are on the East wall and utilizing the natural light without blocking it with any big furniture is a good choice. Layout 3 solves all of these design problems with clever use of multi-purpose fold-able/extendable furniture and equally versatile light fixtures that can transform the space according to the clients’ different activities.

Meeting clients’ need and want

The clients wanted the open concept loft to have the ability to transform for different activities or events without permanently dedicating furniture and space for single use. This need was addressed by the 3 following ways (solid and dotted lines are used for furniture in their folded/expanded forms in different layouts):

1) The king size Murphy bed/sofa convertible can be used for living or sleeping based on the need. The side tables when joined can become the a coffee table for the sofa or when kept at two sides can serve as night stands. The ottoman can provide additional seating or when expanded can become a twin guest bed. A thin screen can create a temporary guest sleeping area providing privacy. This is further explained in the scale elevation plan.

2) One of the clients enjoys entertaining people from his film fraternity. This requires a big and high definition TV. Now a days, these are smart TVs and can be hooked to the internet, blue tooth and other devices. Thus combined with a convertible coffee/study table, this can transform into a TV room or a study where film editing can be carried out using the TV as a computer monitor.

3) One of the clients enjoys chef-style cooking. As they both travel a lot for work and fun, a dedicated formal dining room in a small space is an waste. Thus a console table that can be extended into a dining table for 8-10 people is a perfect choice here. One of the special requests for the indoor herb garden is addressed as a bulkhead over the marble kitchen counter to provide a visual territory of the open kitchen and full spectrum LED lights from the overhead fixture can help the herbs to flourish.

The other requests were creating a separate space for the grand piano and a gallery art wall arrangement with the collection of international artworks. This was achieved by using the technique of multiple focal points in a large room. This area provides some space for the guests to walk around the piano area and appreciate the artworks on the wall (Please see the isometric drawing).

As the design incorporates both classic and contemporary styles, electrical fixtures are chosen accordingly. The entrance room has a classic chandelier placed right in the middle (Please see reflected ceiling plan) which in combination with classic marble sculptures placed above the sofa bed create a transitional style. The sleek design of the modern sofa/bed convertible, tables and contemporary standing lamps add to this. On the contrary a modern chandelier with LED dimmer lights is placed in the TV room which can work as a downward task light as the coffee table converts to a study table. Plenty of track lights were also installed throughout the loft to use their versatility according to ambience, task or accent lighting.

Finally, creating a design for the bathroom for two people’s use, adding washer and dryer units and use smart appliances to connect with smart phones were followed. A home virtual smart assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa, can be installed for voice command. Similarly, an interactive gym mirror can be installed by the window on the East wall that won’t take much space yet will provide smart ways for full body workout at home.

Furniture layout, Elevation, Isometric and Reflected Ceiling drawings

Visualizing the design concepts using Pinterest idea boards

(WordPress may be working on fixing their glitch to properly embed Pinterest galleries <https://www.pinterest.com/drewgiamani/transforming-furniture-in-a-lower-manhattan-studio/>)

Pinterest board of Sleeping/Living area

Sleeping/living area: Natural light from 3 tall windows is reflected and transmitted everywhere with mirror tiled wall treatment and mirrored door on the floor-to-ceiling closet. One way glass on the windows provide privacy without blocking light. Roller shades printed with New York images provide blackout effect during sleep. Focal point is created with the extra large classic chandelier and accented with art deco ceiling rose. Rich burgundy and forest green colors with gold accents are repeated in the multi-purpose furniture pieces such as the Murphy/sofa bed and ottoman convertible, accessories and textiles.

Pinterest board of Foyer and dining area

Foyer/Dining area: The extendable console-to-dining table meets the client’s need for transformable furniture. The green floor rug separates the space either as a foyer or dining when the table is extended. The acrylic transparent chairs provide enough seating without taking up any visual space. The track light over head provides enough light for this versatile area.

Pinterest board of the kitchen area

Kitchen: Metal bulkhead housing indoor herb garden with full spectrum LED light above the marble counter top create the focal point in the kitchen. The stainless steel appliances compliment the metallic bulkhead. The wooden cabinets are covered with wallpapers depicting scenes from Italy. Specific Italian cook wares and accessories are added along with Italian recipe cook books to meet the client’s need for chef style extravagant Italian cooking. A transparent wine cellar rack is provided keeping in mind the client’s hobby.

Pinterest board of the TV room and living room

TV Room/ Living room: The eclectic style is defined by the lemon yellow mid century modern love seat, the art deco study chair on wheels, the acrylic chairs, rattan side tables, LED halo chandelier, burgundy torchieres, extendable glass top box coffee-to-study table and a traditional Japanese tatami mat instead of a floor rug. The UHD flat TV doubles as a computer monitor via blue tooth when film editing is done. The posters of international films hang on the walls to create a film lover’s entertaining area.

Pinterest board for Piano and art gallery area

Piano/art gallery room: To meet the client’s request of displaying the large collection of international art pieces from around the world, no furniture is kept in this area. The piano sits in the middle of the room, leaving enough space to walk around and appreciate the black cork gallery wall displaying the artworks. Artworks are organized by color and size to create harmony. Two large statues at two ends anchor the space. Art light and track lights provide enough illumination for the functionality. Dark green drapes hang from ceiling to floor behind the two statue as an ode to the classic Italian renaissance design style.

Pinterest board for the bathroom

The ceiling of the entire loft is painted with the Benjamin Moore charming pink and the proportion of rich burgundy and jungle green varies throughout the space to achieve unity. The load bearing pillars are painted with Benjamin Moore white dove color and gold accents. The marble statues balance the visual weight of these two pillars. The new washer and dryer units are stainless steel to match the other kitchen appliances. The proposed remodeled bathroom has dark green marble counter top and lemon yellow paints on the wall. Modern appliances can be connected to voice command technology such as Amazon’s Alexa. The Mirror interactive home gym can save space and yet provide workout opportunity at home.

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