If a project has such good bones, it is almost impossible to go wrong. When it came to the loft in a West Village converted factory building from the late-19th century, interior designer Bachman Clem was on the same page as architect Jon Powell.
Clem’s Bachman Brown Design clients and recent empty nesters, the homeowners had traded in their Upper East Side home with a formal layout. They also had heavy moldings. The 3,750-square-foot downtown apartment has four bedrooms and a bathroom. Now they wanted to update it style-wise. Clem explains that the couple is laid back and enjoys entertaining casually. Therefore, making this apartment feel warm and welcoming was their top priority.
The barrel-vaulted ceiling was the subject of most debate. It was two inches thick when the couple bought the unit. Powell says they assumed brick was beneath the building because of its history. It was a science experiment to uncover it and then find matching salvaged bricks to replace the missing or cracked areas.
Powell recalls that the unit was in its former state and had standard features such as trim and parquet floors. He explains, “We wanted that reduced, so we removed the trim. We installed wide-plank oak flooring in a matte finish.” “The inspiration images Bachman presented to clients were very monastic. Our goal was to combine industrial language and warm minimalism.
The design team simplified the floor plan to achieve this. It was previously more fragmented. Powell opened the kitchen to the living and dining rooms, allowing clients to converse with their guests while they cooked. The library is located adjacent to the kitchen. It is separated from the living space by a steel-and-glass wall that preserves light and views. Neutrals are the dominant color throughout this central hub. Clem says, “We wanted to balance brick with a subtle palette containing soft earth tones and beiges.” Clem says, “We experimented with texture, including Venetian plaster for the walls. But, it was kept very refined.”
Clem and Powell devised a clever solution to lighting the barrel vaults. They used oil-rubbed steel tray bases to fit the LED strips into the arch’s base. These trays were meant to replicate the structural steel beams below, which had to be protected from fire by intumescent paint. Clem says the LED strips create a warm glow in the apartment by reflecting light from the brick vaults. It’s magical at night.
Powell created an oak volume to divide the public from private spaces. This timber enclosure houses the bedrooms, storage, laundry area, and powder room. The bedroom hall can be quickly closed off from the living space using a pocket door. Clem and Powell decided to keep the plaster ceilings in the bedrooms intact, further separating public from private.