New York-based designer Laura Bohn has long lived in a glorious penthouse atop a former bank building in downtown Manhattan. But when she had to move temporarily to the ground floor, she faced the challenge of quickly transforming a raw space into a comfortable and functional home.
When my contractor husband, Richard Fiore, and I moved from the penthouse of the converted Bank Building on Manhattan's 14th Street into its last empty apartment, we were faced with 2,700 square feet of raw space on the ground floor. The space featured 15-foot-high ceilings, two courtyards—one quite large, the other small and internal—with an inconvenient, ugly T-column at the very center. The awkward space needed carefully considered planning.
I dealt with the pesky T-column by encasing it in a large cylinder of corrugated metallic plastic, turning an eyesore into an architectural feature. Now it not only helps direct the flow of space through the kitchen/dining area and into the living area and garden courtyard beyond, but also provides hidden storage. In addition, it supports a big flat-screen television that can be rotated to face either the living or dining areas. Paradoxically, the large gleaming tube is much less intrusive than was the smaller T-column that hides behind it. By emphasizing, rather than trying to disguise a design flaw, I made it appear—and function—as a fully intended architectural element within the overall plan.