An Apartment in Pomander Walk Gets a Bright and Expansive Update

Angela R. James
<div class="caption"> This Manhattan complex is named for a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomander_Walk" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:romantic comedy by Louis N. Parker" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">romantic comedy by Louis N. Parker</a> where the buildings in the play are described as miniature copies of Queen Anne mansions. The play opened in New York in 1910 and the real-life iteration, seen here, was built in 1921. </div>
This Manhattan complex is named for a romantic comedy by Louis N. Parker where the buildings in the play are described as miniature copies of Queen Anne mansions. The play opened in New York in 1910 and the real-life iteration, seen here, was built in 1921.

Claudia Oribe had been living in an apartment with her family for several years when she started yearning for more space. Moving wasn’t ideal for obvious reasons but also due to the fact that she lived in Pomander Walk, the historically landmarked co-op on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that’s full of whimsy, storied history, and charm. Lucky for her, the dream scenario presented itself: The apartment above opened up. “With the chance to combine the two apartments, we jumped at the opportunity as that would make the most sense for us as a family,” says Claudia.

From there, the family enlisted the help of Sarah Jacoby and her architecture and design firm, which specializes in creatively restoring and reconfiguring spaces on a variety of scales. “The clients wanted something minimal but warm,” says Sarah. “They had the benefit of having lived in the lower floor for several years, so they understood the building and the place, so the renovation and combination design reflects that sense of connectivity to the environment.”

<div class="caption"> Before: “The homeowners have two kids and a dog, so they wanted something durable and robust,” says Sarah. “So we bore that in mind when selecting materials.” </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby</cite>

Before: “The homeowners have two kids and a dog, so they wanted something durable and robust,” says Sarah. “So we bore that in mind when selecting materials.”

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby

<div class="caption"> After: “I love our high-sloped ceiling in the living room and the skylights we added,” says Claudia. “They bring so much light into the space—they were worth every penny!” Shop it out: <a href="https://gusmodern.com/products/mix-modular-sofa-3-pc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:sofa" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">sofa</a>, <a href="https://andrewneyer.com/product/crane-light-black/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:light" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">light</a>, and <a href="https://fave.co/386Ttui" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:coffee table" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">coffee table</a>. </div>
After: “I love our high-sloped ceiling in the living room and the skylights we added,” says Claudia. “They bring so much light into the space—they were worth every penny!” Shop it out: sofa, light, and coffee table.

Of course, renovating a beautiful historic apartment complex doesn’t come without a few hitches, the main one being the rules and regulations that go along with making changes to a landmark. “The most challenging part [of the process] was getting permits from DOB and Landmarks Commission and coordinating the start of the project within that time frame,” says Claudia. Still, the team made it happen. “There was close scrutiny over all proposed changes,” adds Sarah. “We introduced a skylight, which was a particular challenge. It remains completely invisible from the exterior, but getting approval for it was a challenge.”

“We now have a unique space,” says Claudia. “It is still within a co-op structure, but we have a compact townhouse that feels very much like a house. Having no neighbors on top or below us has been so liberating!” Another aspect the family was excited by was opening up the ceiling at the top level and exposing the rafters. “We wanted to add an attic but did not know if we would have enough headspace, so it was amazing to find out that we had plenty,” says Claudia. “We ended up increasing our square footage just by doing that.”

<div class="caption"> Before: When speaking about what inspired their reno ideas, Claudia says, “We looked at a lot of Scandinavian interiors and also other apartments in our complex that had been converted into single-family homes.” </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby</cite>

Before: When speaking about what inspired their reno ideas, Claudia says, “We looked at a lot of Scandinavian interiors and also other apartments in our complex that had been converted into single-family homes.”

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby

<div class="caption"> After: “I really love the kitchen,” says Sarah. “It fits the space. We really optimized the space in the kitchen without it feeling cramped.” </div>

After: “I really love the kitchen,” says Sarah. “It fits the space. We really optimized the space in the kitchen without it feeling cramped.”

<div class="caption"> After: The previous version of the kitchen, with white cabinetry and wood countertops, was quite the opposite of the open and airy space the family has now. The update, with its tiled backsplash, <a href="https://fave.co/2TiXnLy" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:new range" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">new range</a>, and Carrara marble counter, feels modern and built to last. </div>
After: The previous version of the kitchen, with white cabinetry and wood countertops, was quite the opposite of the open and airy space the family has now. The update, with its tiled backsplash, new range, and Carrara marble counter, feels modern and built to last.
<div class="caption"> After: Sarah used <a href="https://www.kalklitir.com/collections" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kalklitir plaster" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kalklitir plaster</a> for the walls. The paint company manufactures products in powder form in an environmentally conscious way and creates a unique matte surface for a compelling atmosphere. </div>
After: Sarah used Kalklitir plaster for the walls. The paint company manufactures products in powder form in an environmentally conscious way and creates a unique matte surface for a compelling atmosphere.

Bringing the vision to life was a very collaborative process between Sarah and the homeowners. They aimed to strike a balance between an informal feel and a point of view. “The clients had a clear idea of what they wanted, so we went back and forth with drawings, pictures, and ideas,” says Sarah. “Our budget was tight and non-negotiable, so Sarah helped us achieve that by managing expectations and making last-minute changes to the project,” adds Claudia. “Overall, the aim of the project was to lighten up the interior and update the layout to create a comfortable family home.”

<div class="caption"> The <a href="https://fave.co/2T7Y0Zv" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:wood dining table" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">wood dining table</a> has a fun sculptural element with the powder-coated steel legs. Similarly, the <a href="https://fave.co/2PvfxbT" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:dining chairs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">dining chairs</a>, designed by Norman Cherner, are unobtrusive but still have a dramatic sculptural beauty. </div>
The wood dining table has a fun sculptural element with the powder-coated steel legs. Similarly, the dining chairs, designed by Norman Cherner, are unobtrusive but still have a dramatic sculptural beauty.

“Even though we designed the space to be very child-friendly, I am amazed by how well it has held up to daily use,” says Claudia. “It is a very relaxed and easygoing space.”

<div class="caption"> Before: The previous bathroom left something to be desired. </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby</cite>

Before: The previous bathroom left something to be desired.

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby

<div class="caption"> After: Sarah and her team added a lot of brightness with the white sink and tile work, and <a href="https://www.artos-westover.com/Products/Opera-Lav-Faucets/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:stainless steel fixtures" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">stainless steel fixtures</a>, but still added a punch of fun with the <a href="https://www.cementtileshop.com/in-stock-encaustic-cement-tile/StarburstI.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:starburst flooring" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">starburst flooring</a> and <a href="https://richbrilliantwilling.com/collections/hoist/products/hp-14b-36" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:blue pendant light" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">blue pendant light</a>. </div>
<div class="caption"> The ladder leads to the former attic, which had been “a completely unused dead space,” says Sarah. “We opened it up to create an extra bedroom.” </div>

The ladder leads to the former attic, which had been “a completely unused dead space,” says Sarah. “We opened it up to create an extra bedroom.”

<div class="caption"> We love the idea of taking a <a href="https://www.domestic.fr/en/papiers-peints/246-forest-noire.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bold wallpaper print" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bold wallpaper print</a> and making it like a piece of art. </div>

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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