that bento box loft in Noho also provides a Quote Of The Day

double duty is fitting
One owner of the newly renovated loft profiled in today’s New York Times warmed the Manhattan Loft Guy heart with this Quote Of The Day:

“we usually turn that function off,” [she] said. “It makes most Americans nervous.”

It” being “a Toto electronic toilet raises its seat in greeting when someone enters the bathroom” and is an indication of (a) the attention to detail in this renovation, (b) the “simple” sensibility that combines this feature with a master bedroom that stores the bedding in trap doors during the day. It also shows what you can get (working with the right architect and contractors?) in a complete renovation for less than $200/ft. Where to begin??

love that feature!
The On Location feature is a regular in the Thursday Home & Garden section of the New York Times; I need to start paying more attention to the by-lines, as I often find myself engaged by the presentation of the lives lived in specific spaces. (Is it just me, but are loft dwellers disproportionately represented in this feature??)

In today’s installment is In NoHo, a Bento Box They Can Live In (by Andrea Codrington Lippke [a name that Google must love]), a family of four renovates a “1,300 sq ft” loft for $250,000, packing a great many uses into a space that never feels cramped. The fact that most Manhattan families with two teenage girls could not live as ‘cleanly’ in 1,300 sq ft in which half the space is devoted to storage is a testament to how well the architects created a home for these clients. the girls each have work stations, in addition to closets over lofted beds; the mother gets closets for her “vast assortment of vintage clothing” ; and the father gets a lofted office (“the photographic mission control … with multiple monitors and storage space for his equipment”) that will not comfortably fit anyone taller than the father. It took me a while to locate the “six-foot-long aquarium with a living coral reef” the photo slideshow; if you also missed it look in slide 2/12 (that’s six feet??).

square space = flexible space (height helps, too)
I had trouble orienting myself in the slideshow photos, wondering what was next to what in many of hte close-cropped photos. I am not going to out the address for these people, but here is the floor plan for the loft immediately below this loft, which corresponds quite nicely to the photos in the slideshow. You see that the space is nearly square, with windows north and west, providing the depth and access to windows essential to having two real bedrooms while retaining an open feel. That, and the high ceilings, of course, without which the bento box would not work.

There are more (and better) photos of this loft on the architects’ website (they deserve a shout-out: Koko Architecture and Design). You get a much better sense of how the overall space works than from the New York Times pix. Yes, that is a fireplace under the television on the living room wall, and yes, those are huge windows.

a loft square foot is bigger (or, more important)
This point may deserve its own post (one day!), but I suggested yesterday that the use of (accurate!) square footage measurements is more important in the Manhattan loft market than in the “apartment” market. This loft illustrates why “1,300 sq ft” in a loft is bigger than a similarly sized apartment, and why a loft buyer would care desperately about the size, when an apartment buyer would be concerned with ‘flow’ and room count.

With high ceilings, windows on two sides, and only one load bearing element (that lovely column in slide 2/12) the architect had a blank canvas to work with (money issues aside; the only constraints were the plumbing stacks: kitchen in the middle, 2 baths along the public hallways; see that lower floor plan).

Note how few walls there are in the bento box: the kitchen cabinet wall has the girls’ bedroom behind it; the 2 baths flank the entry; the other “wall” has the stair that goes up to the father’s space and encloses the mother’s closets; the master bedroom is all but open to the living room, but for the frosted glass “shoji screen” doors.

Only in a loft, kids. Only in a loft.

resale worries? nahhh
I will confess to having had one irritating broker-ish thought, on reflecting on how very specific this renovation is for this very specific family: but what about resale? I then rebuked myself with the word that Roseanne Cash now regrets that she used to chastise (the next Speaker of the House??) with for mis-using her father’s legacy. But if these owners aren’t worried about resale at this point, why should I??

This should be a whole ‘nother blog post one day, but the What About Resale question is (to me) far too often used to bully people into not customizing space. Yes, this family spent $250,000 to create a space that works very well for them, not as well for someone who wants a ‘real bed’ in the master, or has kids (or guests) who don’t like lofted beds, or who are taller than this father, or who want more privacy than the sliding doors to the master provide, or who don’t want to have to put everything away when not in use, or …, or …, or ….

Screw ‘em! (As The Daughter In Black might also have said.)

They have already been here 13 years, they both work nearby, and evidently plan to be here for many years to come. They now live in a relatively modest-sized space for a family of four (with two teenage girls!), every inch of which has been optimized for their needs. Not to mention, which is a beautiful space.


mystery ladder
Somewhere near the kitchen there has to be a ladder to access that upper storage (in slide 10/12, note that there is another tall set of cabinets above the open one, and that the mother would have trouble reaching the top of even the open one). Where’s that ladder?

I highly recommend that you scroll through the residential projects on the architects’ website, as there are a number of loft projects described and pictured. (Even more if you click on  <view more… >.) Many different kinds of loft properties (one is 3,600 sq ft), many different styles, many different palettes. Good stuff for the loft lover in you!

By the way, these architects did this current new development at 38 Delancey Street (not a loft building, but I was interested to see them do a full building, after scrolling through so many of their private residential projects).

a quick poke at the Old Grey Lady’s style manual (and MLG’s)
“NoHo” looks like Bill O’Reilly bait: in this case, taking the Santa out of Christmas. Do they always raise the H in Soho, I wondered …. Yes, they do (as in this example from yesterday’s paper). Not as unwieldy as TriBeCa, perhaps, but equally dated. Time to retire that convention and go with the flow of “h”. (And for Manhattan Loft Guy to change two of my category titles; yikes.) Especially around the holidays.

outing the family after all
I immediately thought it looked familiar, when I checked the floor plan of loft just below the new bento box. But then I look at many floor plans, I thought.

I am not going to use the address in the text, but I hit that downstairs loft when it sold in April 2009 in a May 22, 2009 post. Since those April 2009 sellers at $1.457mm had been June 2008 buyers at $1.72mm, I described that loft as

one of those poster children. In fact, it is at least two of those poster children. The first poster is captioned The Height of The Market; the second caption is Getting Out With Whatever You Can Get.

Note also that, in keeping with the spirit of my REBNY needs to lead now rant yesterday, the same agent on the two sales seems to have bought a new ruler for the second sale.

i will stop before I digress again.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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