Name: Mark Houston
Location: New York, New York
New York City apartments are notoriously daunting with their space restrictions, gritty atmospheres and indistinguishability - if you've seen one, you've seen them all. But after viewing numerous options, this gem of a space fell into my lap after losing a bidding war on another in the same building. As fate would have it, a unit became available on a lower floor with features to swoon for.
Massive west-facing windows, hardwood floors, high ceilings, recessed lighting, a subway tiled bathroom and an intricately carved wood fireplace (not pictured as it is currently undergoing an ambitious refinishing after years of accumulating paint layers ruined its facade) would lay the foundation for the perfect lab in which to experiment with my design sensibilities.
As an interior designer, I am called upon to transform spaces on a regular basis. However, given most projects have schedule constraints, designing for a client is much different than creating a space for oneself. Most people don't want to wait years for that perfect chair. However, my process has been much more organic and I have preferred to go without until I find the pieces that 'speak' to me. It took me two years to settle on a coffee table. Yet, I've scored some unique pieces which bring a bit of the past into my present - the 1970's Leucos table lamp, a set of Georges Briard highballs and old film reel containers are some of my favorite finds. The remaining items have been collected over time from flea markets, specialty stores and major retailers, though the work will likely be perpetually in progress.
One of the biggest challenges was the lack of counter space in the miniscule kitchen. I love to cook but placing items on the floor while preparing meals quickly grew old. I couldn't find an island with the right proportions or functionality so I had one built to my specifications by a commercial restaurant supply vendor. Now I have adequate additional storage and prep space in my kitchen. And it can conveniently roll away when the air mattress needs to come out for guests.
What has materialized is an apartment that is moody, motley and masculine where vintage/industrial pieces meld with modern touches amongst accents of bold color and pattern. To me, the space feels relaxed yet tailored, like a loungey lived-in cabin one would escape to from the city on the weekends. Luckily, I get to escape every night!
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