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NYC prewar apartment gets a dazzling modern update

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A perfect balance between traditional and unconventional

A living area with a blue couch, table, chairs, plants, and large windows letting in natural light. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA

Equal parts irreverent and sophisticated, this New York City renovation has one foot in its prewar history and another in modern style. Michael K. Chen Architecture (MKCA) revamped the the Park Avenue apartment, originally built in the early 20th century, to become a contemporary residence for a young family.

The 2,800-square-foot apartment had the markings of a prewar unit—great details but cramped entryways and spaces. MKCA opened up the layout and widened room openings to create an airy feel and improve circulation. In the living room, for example, a glass and steel interior window unit separates the space from the dining room.

A living room and dining room in a New York City apartment. There is a blue couch, table, chairs, light fixtures, and a glass room divider. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA

To make the most of the space, the architects transformed a closet into a powder room and designed a new cloak room where strollers, coats, and shoes can be stashed into built-in compartments. “Drawing from our experience designing micro apartments, we start every project, large or small, looking for a very flexible spatial organization, where spaces can slip into and overlap with one another,” the firm said in a project statement.

Chen improved the lighting in the kitchen, which has only one window, by contrasting matte black cabinets with shiny white countertops.

A kitchen in a prewar New York City apartment. The cabinetry is black and the walls are white. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA

Everywhere else, the house is all about color. The children’s room is a shade of mint green; the master bedroom gets a muted shade of pink; and the cloak room gets some unexpected flair with flamingo wallpaper.

A living area in an apartment in New York City. There is a couch, chairs, and plants in planters. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA
A black and white bathroom. The walls have black tiles, the ceiling has black and white tiles and the sink is white. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA
A coat room in an apartment which has pink walls. Photo by Brooke Holm courtesy MKCA