Burns Gross Residence
Lower East Side, New York City
Paul Gross and Martha Burns, well-known actors with two grown children, asked us to renovate a century-old, loft space on New York’s Lower East Side. It was once a cramped, clothing factory, and reminders of that period were still there such as the dents in the ancient wooden floors caused by sewing machine treadles. There was a rickety tin ceiling, and most of the plumbing was exposed. While the actors, who live in Canada much of the time, loved all the authenticity , the loft was far from comfortable. What they needed was a modern kitchen, a highly-functional bathroom, a place to work and display areas for their treasured collection of memorabilia and art.
Reddymade had to gut the loft in order to modernize it, but in so doing we had to preserve as much of its character as possible. To accomplish this seemingly contradictory goal, we exaggerated the loft’s historic feel. For instance, we added more than a foot to the height of the four windows. With more light, nothing about the loft’s historic condition would be hidden. We carefully cleaned and patched the existing brick walls and tin ceiling. We exposed the old iron beams that ran down the center of the ceiling and carefully repaired the floorboards so that they no longer creaked and were structurally sound,. Still they would never look new , and again served to new to preserve the authenticity the clients were very attached to.
They also coveted the airiness of this loft so rather than build them a separate master bedroom, we created a sleeping “cocoon” at one end. This constituted a bed encircled by translucent linen curtains. Similar curtains were made for all the windows, allowing for maximum light, while providing some privacy. We did partition off a guest bedroom, but here installed a transparent sliding door, so that light from the perimeter window would also filter into the main loft.
Through our selection of furniture, we again played up the period sensibility of the loft. Minimally furnished , it features an 18-foot dining table made of salvaged wood and steel; dining chairs covered in antique Turkish ikats. The sofa is upholstered in a fabric that plays off the color and texture of the brick walls.