It was the consummate New Yorker Walt Whitman who once wrote, “Keep your face to the sun—and shadows will fall behind you,” but anyone who’s lived in the dark, often view-deprived confines of a Manhattan apartment knows that’s easier said than done. So when one family discovered a pristine loft apartment with soaring ceilings and monumental windows in a historic 19th-century building in Tribeca, there was no question where the focus would land.
“When you walk off the elevator, you’re immediately hit with this diffused northern light, which is just spectacular,” says Los Angeles designer Kelly Bergin of the wall of expansive windows in a sitting area adjacent to the entrance. “The space feels very natural and soothing—and completely removed from the city. We knew right away that we wanted to maintain that sense of the ethereal.”
With nothing in the way of structural repairs to undertake, the first step was to create areas of purpose within the partition-free apartment while keeping the space open and bright. Bergin opted for room-defining millwork instead of walls, allowing sunlight to penetrate every corner of the property. In the dining area, a series of graduated ledges were installed to add texture to an otherwise blank wall and provide space for both family art and the homeowners’ vast collection (she is the deputy director of Dia Art Foundation), while a shelving unit in the library area establishes the feel of a cozy reading nook. The monochromatic cabinetry in the kitchen is designed to infuse what feels like a subtle, receding space with quiet definition. And Bergin added wood paneling in the entry to give it a formal yet understated sense of arrival. “Because that light is so soft and airy, we wanted to ground it with natural earthy elements like wood and leather to direct the flow.”
To enhance the ethereal, nature-inspired aesthetic, Bergin embraced rounded shapes over angular designs, chose plush textiles that foster an overriding sense of comfort, and enveloped the rooms in a cloudlike palette to give the home the feel of a modern aerie. “We were going for a look that doesn’t sacrifice design but is also stealthily kid-friendly,” Bergin says. In the living room, a sinuous sofa by Vladimir Kagan sits opposite a pair of Theo Ruth chairs upholstered in a durable Kvadrat wool. The ombré-hued painting by Isabelle Cornaro that dominates the library echoes the glow throughout the space. “We love watching how the sunset painting on the wall changes with the light,” says the homeowner.
An Ethereal New York City Loft With West Coast Light
The softness underscores the family’s need for a home that feels less like a gallery and more like a backdrop for the beauty of everyday life. “Nothing is off limits,” says Bergin. “They often host small dinner parties and kids’ birthday parties here. The girls use every inch of the space.” Of course, not everything was done in the name of kid-friendliness. “There’s a wooden sculpture in the living room by Paloma Varga Weisz that the youngest daughter calls the ‘Scary Lady,’” Bergin says with a laugh. “You can’t win them all, can you?”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest