House Tour: Lucinda and Nicholas' Transformed Tenement

New York

Name: Lucinda and Nicholas
Location: Lower East Side
Size: 1000 sqft
Lived in: 12 years in the back half of the current apartment. (The front half was sublet). One year in the combined apartment

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Lucinda and Nicholas, with the help of an architect, transformed two tenement apartments that they had owned for more than a decade, into one sleek and modern home for themselves and their newborn child. The space, in its former state, was very cave like so to see it in its current state, is a revelation.


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Lucinda and Nicholas desired, a well lit home above almost anything else. They loved time spent elsewhere--on both coasts, uptown and downtown — in really sun drenched apartments. For a long time, they thought they'd have to give up and sell the Lower East Side place for a brighter future. After looking around at various options, they turned back to basics, and with the help of a friend and architect, they realized that what they had in front of them had tremendous potential.

They knocked down as many walls as possible — including the use if a huge exposed steel beam rather than a supporting wall! And they painted as many walls white as possible. They didn't stop there. Any and every surface is light. The kitchen cabinets are reflective of the sun, the closets are all behind white doors, the floors are light and the furniture is light as well. The strong sun pores straight down the hall and hints at the back bedrooms, which also get some good light.

The front living space feels expansive and welcoming. The apartment is completely unrecognizable from its previous incarnation. Color in the apartment comes from the books that create almost one entire wall, the playful green on the ceiling in the bathroom and the single purple wall in the office. The sun does the rest. Over the course of the day, it's effect on the furniture and surfaces creates a envious changing palette.

AT Survey:

Inspiration: We wanted lots of light in our life after living in small cramped and dank NYC apartments, so we strove to incorporate as much light into our design as possible. The kitchen is a prime example — we chose to use glossy white cabinets to reflect the sun coming in from the windows

Favorite Element: Baby's accent wall

Biggest Challenge: The heating/cooling system. We wanted to install an HVAC system for central heating and cooling but because of structural and economic constraints, it was ultimately not possible.

What Friends Say: LOVE it!

Biggest Embarrassment: The wall mounted air conditioners. They're loud and inefficient.

Proudest DIY: The Tord Boontje Garland light/chandelier over the dining room table. It was so cheap and easy to construct. And so cool!

Biggest Indulgence: The bamboo floors and the Hunter Douglas blinds (they cost a small fortune!)

Best Advice: Plan, plan and plan ahead. Choose a good architect who comes with his/her own contractor. An architect and contractor who work and know each other well makes all the difference. It literally translates into the final work product.

Dream Source: Surface and Dwell magazines, Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, Hive Modern (for furniture and lighting), Modern Seed (for modern baby furniture).

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Do you have an idea for a house tour? Let me know! jill@apartmenttherapy.com

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