It can often fall to designers to gently reel in their clients’ overly ambitious aspirations during a large-scale home renovation. New York City–based architect Robert Kahn, however, makes a point of taking his clients’ visions very seriously, no matter how lofty they may seem. In the initial stages of his residential projects—which have included properties for stars like Daniel Day-Lewis, Mary-Louise Parker, and Wes Anderson—he encourages the homeowners to cast aside logic and reason in order to pinpoint their deepest design desires. “I’ll often ask my clients to make me a wish list with something they can’t live without, something they’d like to have, and something they would like to see in their fantasy,” says Kahn. “It’s amazing what it leads to.”
For one bicoastal couple splitting their time between California and New York, the dream was to transform two separate units in an old Greenwich Village building into one loftlike abode with an effortless flow from room to room. Despite the challenging construction and the couple’s concern about a loss of coziness, Kahn masterfully combined the stacked units into a 5,000-square-foot apartment that’s at once spacious, intimate, and inviting. He reimagined the irregular layout by placing the kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms along one long, angular wall, in turn squaring off the central area and allowing the dramatic, double-height living room, dining room, and master bedroom to seamlessly flow into one another.
Adjacent to the bedroom—and visible from it through a broad window—the couple has access to a round teak hot tub, elevated within the master bathroom.
The airy living room serves as the stunning focal point and hub of the home, with a sculptural bronze spiral staircase at its center, connecting the first and second floors. Two balconies overlooking the light-filled room create conversation between the levels—sometimes quite literally, when the couple throws parties: “Someone actually stood on the balcony and read Shakespeare,” Kahn shares. He handled all the interiors as well, establishing a modern aesthetic that weaves in warm textures and materials as well as vintage furnishings to avoid a cold, contemporary look.
Covering the walls with rich mahogany—inspired by the wood-paneled rooms found in old English homes—was just one way that Kahn created a sense of consistency and comfort, despite the home’s large scale. “I kept the palette in each room very similar even though it’s used in different ways throughout the apartment,” he notes. The couple came away with a highly personalized apartment—complete with a dance studio and a soundproof music room—prime for entertaining during their stays in the city.