CJ & Renee's Sleek White Space

House Tour

Name: CJ & Renee Follini
Location: SoHo — NYC
Years lived in: 3

CJ Follini and his wife, Renee, graciously invited us to tour their bright, Soho apartment shortly before moving uptown. CJ and Renee took a leap of faith in the purchase of the apartment three years ago: it was bought as part of a user deal from a developer who put a consortium of artists and filmmakers together to purchase the building. The catch? While the building had basic infrastructure, each space was essentially sold "as is". CJ and Renee’s space had a large hole in the floor where an internal stair once connected it to the floor below and the space was dark and gloomy due to the single exposure on a long, narrow space.

To make the best use of the space, CJ and Renee hired architect George Boyle to create a modern look with bright surfaces that would bounce light throughout, and a relatively open floor plan that would accommodate not only their home but also an ample work space for Renee who runs two businesses from home. The couple sought to create an uncluttered space with clean lines. The plan called for no crown moldings, "museum white" surfaces and sleek finishes including a stainless steel strip instead of a baseboard, no door pulls, ample closet space (including a walk-in master closet), and "lots of right angles."

One magic answer to the functional requirements of the space was Corian. Never before used as a flooring material, the couple worked with DuPont to arrange for large slabs of Corian to be sent to their woodworker to mill tongue and grooves to enable the slabs to be closely set together on the floor. The surface is easy to clean, warm, not slippery and almost indestructible. Any scratches can be easily buffed out. This was not only helpful for the foot traffic of the office but also for managing any tracks from their dog, Austin (the model for Renee’s dog product company, Sexy Beast). Corian is also used for the bathroom shower, backsplash and radiator covers (also a Corian first).

The kitchen cabinets are finished with a brown automotive enamel that is both reflective and smart-looking and the guest bath was fitted with floor to ceiling black acrylic which proved to be a great budget-friendly substitute for the smoked glass originally in their plan. The Philippe Starck cantilevered toilet makes the room look bigger and is easy to clean around. A translucent panel separates the bedroom from the living area, creating the impression of additional windows and a more open space.

Avid art collectors, CJ and Renee installed a strip into the wall from which to hang art throughout. Their clean space provides a neutral palette for their furniture collection, which includes a custom California walnut table that doubles as a dining table and conference table, chairs from the Pace Collection, a Kagan sofa and a Lichtenstein original edition rug. Many pieces where bought from estate sales / auctions which CJ loves to take advantage of (including a set of Poltrona Frau chairs which were formerly Mark Dreier’s conference chairs).

Other features include ceramic Italian tile from Stone Source (easy to clean and was a mid-priced alternative to marble) and a number of elements to maximize the utility for the office space: a large flat-screen tv suspended from a wall-mounted arm that can swing toward the conference table, built-in desks along the walls to provide work stations for employees and wiring for computers and equipment throughout.

What’s next for CJ and Renee? An all-black space of course! The next apartment in the Flatiron district is another gut renovation but this time it is a large space in need of a more intimate feel. An all-black design will help make the space look and feel smaller — but will Austin have to dye his fur?

Thanks, CJ & Renee!

Images: Sabra Krock

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