Smooth Transition

By buying the apartment downstairs from the second-floor unit she had occupied with her family for years, architect Deborah Berke created a two-story home and gained direct access to the street.

Off the street is an entryway, one of several transitional spaces that make the apartment feel spacious. Berke notes that tfoyers, hallways, and landings make a home feel roomier, even if it means pinching the square footage from another portion of the plan.

Cantilvered stairs that unite the two stories are made of cast iron treads from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Steel supports for the staircase are concealed within the wall.

"Cutting the hole in the floor was the easy part," recalls Berke, who says that the cantilivered stairway was one of the more challenging aspects of the turning a two-bedroom apartment into a duplex.

At the top of the stairs is the library, a favorite family hangout.

More space for entertaining, more storage, and a place for their teenage daughter to have friends over were the goals of this extensive remodel, which was done by working completely within the pre-war building's existing structure.

Moveable walls in the dining room conceal storage closets. On the doors are ledges for displaying art.

Adjacent to the dining room is an efficient and hard-working kitchen that's great for entertaining.

Bringing a derelict backyard back to life created peaceful and private outdoor space, a New York City rarity.

"Look for opportunities to connect vertically," advises the architect, who says that working this way can result in a much more interesting space.

Gracie Square Duplex, New York; Architect Deborah Berke & Partners, New York; Builder Sweeney Conroy, New York

Gracie Square Duplex, New York; Architect Deborah Berke & Partners, New York; Builder Sweeney Conroy, New York

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