The Inside Out: The Original Settlers

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Bob
Location: Tribeca
Size: 1200 sqft loft
Years lived in: 22 years

Bob is, as he says, “good at small problem solving.” He enjoys “looking at what’s there and deciding what’s necessary to get it in good shape.” So it seems to follow that when, in 1985, he and Maxine learned of a century old,

wholesale warehouse on the 2nd floor of a Chambers Street industrial building, Bob was thrilled and ready to take it on…

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Together with his brother, father, an engineer friend, and partner Maxine, Bob transformed the 1200 sqft. space into a 2 bedroom, beautiful home in record time.

In just 4 months they laid a raised floor in the front part of the apartment, repainted and repaired the original tin walls and ceiling, freed the French window shutters, installed a duplex bedroom in the center for Maxine’s daughter, a bedroom for themselves in the rear, an office for Maxine, an alcove workspace for Bob, a kitchen, and two bathrooms.

While Bob’s friend, father, and brother were construction savvy, Bob and Maxine, had no building experience. Bob insists, however, that he acquired an extensive knowledge of plumbing and electrical circuits as a result of his chemistry professor status.

Bob’s approach to the logistics of converting the space was to DIY on the labor, and to use inexpensive but durable materials found locally. Some of his sources are no longer downtown, but a surprising number have survived. Many ideas came from fellow pioneering loft dwellers while others from passing by great sources on and around Canal Street.

As far as the design of the layout, Bob was very intent on creating unexpected nooks on multiple levels (to take advantage of the 12.5 ft ceilings), and to create as many 45-degree angles as possible. Unlike the typical cavernous loft that has become the standard since the mid-1990’s, Bob and Maxine have carved a very versatile home, capable of providing privacy for a number of people simultaneously.

There are multiple rooms, and a diversity of spaces in which to celebrate their obvious love of music and books. The result is a bevy of surprises within a very pragmatic living environment.

AT Survey

Favorite element: The original features of the space–wooden shutters and tin ceilings and walls.

Motto: “Give me a space with a couple of restraints”


  • The rolling ladder in the den comes from Putnam Rolling Ladder on Howard Street.
  • The tin shelving in the den came from B&Z in Soho.
  • The granite from the new incarnation of the kitchen is from SMC Stone in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Originally posted April 27, 2005
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