March 9, 2015

Workshop/APD Renovates an Upper West Side Apartment

Interior Designers Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman add light and multi-purpose spaces to an apartment that overlooks Central Park.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer Workshop/apd photographer Donna Dotan architecture Workshop/apd


When a Manhattan couple decided to renovate their two-bedroom apartment on the city's Upper West Side—in a pre-war building with a view that overlooks the Museum of Natural History—they hired a designer, but soon regretted their choice. Friends recommended they talk to Workshop/APD, an architecture firm recently named to New York Spaces Top 50 list. The couple happily found that things were indeed better the second time around, especially as they opted also to annex a studio apartment next door, which they owned, to create a new master bedroom, bath, and study. "They were active clients and very enthusiastic about what we suggested," says Andrew Kotchen, who with Matthew Berman founded the firm 14 years ago. "They wanted a clean, calming space," he says, adding that they also wanted what almost all New York City clients want-multi-purpose rooms and the most daylight possible.

Thanks to the architects' inventive panel system for the now 1,220-square-foot dwelling, the living room can be converted into a third bedroom. The sliding floor-to-ceiling acrylic sheets, embossed with a woven pattern that Kotchen describes as looking like string drapes, are easily reconfigured; they also offer transparency and filter the light. The panels are framed in patinated corten steel-the same material the architects used for the living room bookshelves. "A monolithic approach makes the space feel larger," says Kotchen, who employed a monochromatic color scheme and a simple material palette of wood, marble, and steel throughout the apartment. The centerpiece of the space is the large marble island that separates the open kitchen from the living room. "We used it as a grounding element but it also provides ample storage," he says.

A seating shelf wraps around the room, flowing gracefully from the dining area and stretching the entire length of the room, building in even more flexibility. The furnishings are an artful mix of old and new, with the couple's favorite pieces seamlessly blending with fresh designs from CB2 and Room & Board. The husband, who traveled throughout the Far East for many years, had amassed a wonderful and varied collection of Asian art and antiques, which adorn the walls as well as enlivening the entry.