Many current designs call for open space and fewer walls. But when you’re tasked with combining a studio with a one-bedroom apartment for a growing family, you need to create closed spaces while maintaining an open feel. 

The homeowners, Manhattan apartment-dwellers, wanted three bedrooms; a larger and more open kitchen; and a formal dining room. Because the apartments are in a co-op building, there were a few restrictions, such as specific areas being designated for use as wet rooms.


To increase usable space, the architects, says David Katz, principal of Katz Architecture, in New York City, “needed to compress circulation spaces to a minimum — hallways, passages, and areas designed for travel,” which allowed the architects to make the interior rooms as large as possible.

Also, after demolition, the team discovered an electrical riser buried in the wall that would have made the layout impossible. They relocated the riser, which required a lot of cooperation with the building, the electrician, and the contractor, Home Artisan.

Noise levels can be a challenge when working in a multi-unit building. Katz says that “The homeowner kept the peace in the building by notifying neighbors beforehand of what was to be expected.” In addition, Katz sent around a note to neighbors indicating when the noisiest trades would be active.

Defined Yet Open

To create the sense of openness, Katz Architecture designed an entry vestibule with a doorway that leads people into the more public spaces — living, dining, and kitchen areas. They added more than 100 square feet to the kitchen and separated the space from the dining area with a countertop and ceiling-hung cabinets. Light comes in through large windows in the dining room.

“Remodeling always involves a certain degree of sleight of hand,” Katz says. “It’s important to make good use of the right hardware.” For example, in the entry, designers hid the audiovisual closet behind a panel that looks like part of the wall paneling. In the dining room, they made the best use of the deep counter by making the cabinets accessible from both sides. “We didn’t want to busy up the base with visible hardware, so we used invisible push latches and hidden hinges,” Katz says. Adjacent to the rangehood, where there was no room for a swinging door, they created a sliding panel that looks like a swinging door to maintain consistency with the other cabinets.

Moveable Rooms

To create the kitchen, which had to remain in place, the designers took over an adjacent bathroom, closet, and part of a hallway to maximize that space, fitting cabinets into every possible place. In the dining room, they placed a wet bar into a space that had previously been a bedroom closet. At the opposite end of the apartment, the client’s old kitchen became the master bath. The only original room not affected was a second bathroom. —Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.