Holden Apartment, Chelsea

The design for this apartment renovation in New York's desirable Chelsea neighborhood emerged over the course of several years, during which time the owner, a Gen X musician, morphed from an architecturally conservative preservationist to a staunch minimalist/modernist.

This renovation is actually the merging of a studio and a 1-bedroom unit into a large 1-bedroom, accomplished by entirely gutting the interiors down to the bare structure and inserting a minimal number of walls. The new kitchen is in the place of an old bathroom, and two new baths occur where none existed before. An isolated floating floor was installed to minimize sound transmission and new wiring brings state-of-the-art communications, sound, television, computer control and lighting throughout the apartment.

The space was planned for diverse uses: a teaching studio for piano and voice, an impromptu recital hall, accommodations for small or large gatherings and dinner parties with a view of the Empire State Building and Central Park. The Master suite, generous enough to be a study and bedroom combined, has a walk-in closet and a bath with a two-person shower. The bath is totally lined with gray, Spanish, porcelain tile.

Sometime during the final construction stage (no kitchen or bathroom fixtures) the contractor disappeared from the job, never to be seen again. The owner whipped up the plans and acted as the general contractor and finished off the project. Except for the custom stainless steel counter tops and pass over bar, the cabinets in the kitchen are all from Ikea.

The coordinating architect in New York was Belmont Freeman, who was invaluable in guiding the remodel through the maze of New York's Building Department.