November 1, 2018

West Chin Architect Brings Barnlike Touches to a Chic Manhattan Loft

Centuries ago, lower parts of Manhattan were farmland. That’s certainly not the case today, the downtown neighborhoods teeming with metropolitan energy and sophistication. The contrast factored into a four-bedroom loft in the Flatiron district by West Chin Architect. The owner couple, a repeat client, sought a barnlike feel, but with contemporary touches appropriate to the urban environs. West Chin, along with his firm’s architectural design director Laylah Mohammed, responded through their choice of layout and materials. “The result is modern with a sensitivity to being eclectic,” Chin explains.

French doors close off the office from the dining area. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Revamping the 4,000-square-foot loft, previously an artist’s studio, led to fortuitous surprises. Walls of original brick were uncovered, which the WCA team left exposed in the office and painted black in the master bedroom. Additional windows, also discovered during the gut renovation, allowed for more natural light in the master bedroom and the creation of another bedroom. A run of structural steel columns was unearthed and coated in black paint. “They are beautiful as an industrial element,” Mohammed notes.

Flooring in the master bathroom is encaustic cement tile. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Materiality was driven by the clients. Reclaimed pine paneling in the living area, kitchen, and corridor yields a polished rusticity. An earthy screen of cedar planks, using the Japanese shou sugi ban charring technique, separates the kitchen from the entry. In the master bathroom, gunmetal-finished fixtures are reminiscent of the agrarian. The city influence, though, is seen there in its luxe Calacatta marble and teak finishes.

Solid ash floor planks run throughout. Photography by Eric Laignel.

It appears in the furnishings, too, chosen through conversations with the clients. “They looked to us to guide,” Chin says. “The collaboration was quite nice.” Handcrafted sisal pendant fixtures hang over the Arne Jacobsen chairs lining the walnut dining table, which, like some other pieces, came from Chin’s furniture showrooms, while petal pink leather upholsters the Charles and Ray Eames chairs in the office and study. A powder room photograph, however, ties back to the theme: It’s of a barn owl known to inhabit rural areas.

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