A few key furniture pieces like thenbspArc Swivel coffee table add to the visual language of the renovation defined by...
A few key furniture pieces, like the Arc Swivel coffee table, add to the visual language of the renovation, defined by organic shapes, neutral tones, and multi-functional elements. 
Before + After

The Overhaul of This Upper East Side Kitchen Made Room for Magic

A new open floor plan adds more space and serenity to this New York apartment

Every once in a while, a simple cosmetic renovation becomes something much more special. That’s precisely what happened when these homeowners—a doctor and a creative producer—purchased an Upper East Side co-op ripe for an overhaul and brought on Idan Naor (founder of Inworkshop, a New York–based architecture and design firm) to bring their vision to life.

The apartment’s small rooms and closed-off floor plan didn’t make sense for the couple’s lively lifestyle—planning for a post-pandemic future, they desired multifunctional spaces in which to host friends for craft cocktails, lush meals, and vibrant conversation. With very little light, outdated ornamental columns, and cloistered location, the kitchen was not conducive for entertaining. “They were interested in pivoting the visual language of the existing space,” Idan explains. “Opening things up and getting rid of those clear demarcations,” he adds. 

BEFORE: Oversized furniture made the combined living and dining rooms feel much smaller than their actual square-footage. By opening up the kitchen and streamlining the furniture, the apartment’s lines instantly modernized, gaining an airy and light-filled quality. 

AFTER: An EQ3 sectional exemplifies the apartment’s contemporary yet comfortable aesthetic.

The Inworkshop team took down the large wall that closed off the kitchen and living areas, leaving only the essentials that had to remain for the structural systems, which allowed the floor plan to begin a more harmonious dialogue. “That’s when the design narrative developed towards a place where we allowed the slippage between spaces and began to see materials overlap in an exciting way,” Idan shares. “We really geeked out on that idea,” he adds. Rounded stone and millwork reinforce the concept of visual fluidity, bolstered by the unexpected yet organic invasion of one flooring material into its adjacent program. Gestural details and a blurring of boundaries illustrate the couple’s aspiration for a dynamic environment. “These static features work to  create a kinetic character that encourages you to experience the space differently,” Idan says. 

BEFORE: “The homeowners were looking to explore ways to better utilize the floor plan. The existing kitchen was very dark and cloistered off from the adjacent spaces,” Idan says. Everything from the layout to the appliances and finishes were outdated and did not serve the couple’s entertaining-focused and design-minded lifestyle. 

AFTER: The rounded geometry and intruding flooring placements illustrate the multipurpose nature of the space through visual slippage. 

With sight lines now connected throughout the entire floor, you find yourself rooted in the openness between kitchen, dining, and living areas. The built-in bookshelf anchoring the main wall of the living room becomes an integrating focal point. Light wood and geometric lines imbue the home with an overall sense of serenity—a backdrop that serves as a necessary respite to the couple’s bustling Manhattan lives. 

AFTER: Natural wood elements bring warmth to the overall space. They are anchored by the organically shaped, sleek Perch stools, which were purchased through From the Source. 

In addition to having soothing angles, the bookshelf becomes a cabinet of curiosities of sorts, according to Idan. Beloved favorites from their extensive book collection sit among eclectic sculpture and art pieces picked up along their far-flung travels, punctuated by prized objects and family photos. “For me, it also became an analogue protest to our hyper digital existence,” Idan says, noting the distinct absence of a television in the main living room. “We created a space that prioritizes physical objects, books, and the physical gathering of people, which feels very refreshing,” he adds. Plus, with some shelves intentionally left spare at the onset, the design is meant to kindle an evolving of aesthetics and memories over time, becoming a breathing organism at the heart of the home. 

BEFORE: The ornamental neoclassical columns had been added in a prior renovation and served no structural purpose. Freeing the living space of their heavy-handed presence was top of the list for Idan and his team.

AFTER: The centerpiece of the home, the custom bookcase, is home to one of a kind works of art and collected mementos from the couple’s travels. A practical yet elevated use of space, the bookcase becomes an instant conversation-starter and evolving organism that can grow alongside the family’s evolving interests. 

The neutral color palette accented with warm tones only adds to the “blank canvas” appeal, allowing the homeowners to introduce pops of color and more vibrant art as they continue to grow. “The idea was not to be too overbearing with any one architectural component,” Idan says. It’s a holistic and full circle return to the couple’s enduring search for movement and fluidity throughout every area of the home. “Sometimes, when the right alchemy of the appropriate client, timing, and contractor all align in a certain way, you can push the envelope a little bit, even when it’s not a grandiose project with an outsized budget,” Idan says. “For me, this transformed from a mere kitchen renovation to an elevated exploration of craft and, in turn, some kind of humble quest for something more magical.” 

AFTER: Small vignettes create moments for retreat within the open-concept space, contributing to a dynamic environment for diverse styles of entertaining. 

AFTER: Clean lines and a neutral palette breathe new life into the dining space. Eames Molded Plastic chairs ground the table in the center of the room.