Small Spaces: Manhattan

by Melissa Goldstein

THE DOSSIER: NAMES: Krista Ninivaggi and William Prince. TRADES: Senior Design Associate and Director of the Interior Group at SHoP Architects and Principal at architecture firm PARC, respectively. VIBE: Modern eclectic. ABODE: A '20s-era studio apartment in the East Village, New York.

For architect couple Krista Ninivaggi and William Prince, embarking on an extensive 14-month renovation of their apartment in 2006 was a bid to have it all. "We wanted the comfort of living in a house, but the proximity of being in the city," says Ninivaggi. "So we loaded the space with features that would allow us to be here for a while."

WALL TO WALL Exposing the brick underneath their plaster and lath walls was akin to experiencing a real estate windfall: "The apartment is only ten-feet wide to begin with, so to get that extra six inches was like a dream," says Ninivaggi. "Like finding a secret room."

UPWARDLY MOBILE Raising the bedroom onto a fourteen-inch platform allowed the couple to construct nine-foot-long drawers directly underneath, providing storage for everything from their skis to a roll-out twin bed for guests. Beyond the bonus space, the decision was privacy motivated; "We wanted to prevent guests from lounging on our bed--the level change creates a mental divide."

LAB REPORT The living room is a "testing ground for ideas" for Ninivaggi: from the chevron rug ("a client told me 'no zig zag'--so suddenly I had to have it," she says) to the kaleidoscopic painting on the wall ("I was playing with colour and layering and ended up liking it") to an expandable walnut plywood chair she designed while attending RISD.

ZERO TOLERANCE Accessories are spare and considered; a Jonathan Adler porcelain Fontana Covered Box, a '50s-inspired paper collage won at an auction, Prince's prized Japanese Optimus Prime robot, and a gilded candleholder hunted down on Etsy. For the minimalist-inclined Prince, even this modest collection can be too much: "The candleholder is a bone of contention," he admits, adding mock-wistfully, "I've always dreamt about having an apartment with nothing in it."

AMENITIES NOW The diminutive bathroom packs the biggest visual punch; the couple skinned the room in silvery-blue penny tiles and hung a vintage chandelier to cast a romantic glow. The shimmer is echoed in the backsplash in the kitchen, which manages to host a dishwasher and washer-dryer unit while still feeling roomy--perhaps the most impressive design feat of all. "I only ever wanted this apartment to feel like New York," Ninivaggi says. "It's raw and it's dark, but it has these touches of comfort."



West Elm
T Table by Patricia Urquiola
Unica Home
Dauville Gold Coasters
Canvas Home
Urchin Light
Molo Store
Saarinen Table
Fontana Covered Box
Jonathan Adler
Armchair Upholstery
Miniature Tulip Chair, Vitra
Coffee Maker
Jasper Morrison


Photographs: Justin Coit

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