Two years ago, musical theater actress Mary Bolt bought a Gramercy Park apartment next door to her aunt, who had scouted the property and knew it had good bones (despite its downtrodden state). Courageously, Bolt jumped in headfirst and enlisted the help of architect Denise Lee—a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory—to redesign the space. The problems were apparent: The apartment lacked storage space and had a dysfunctional layout, but it had pluses, such as 12-foot ceilings and original 1870s detailing. “It was clear from the beginning that the place needed to be gutted,” Lee says.
The happy ending? She managed to turn the 1,000-square-foot apartment into a fully functional home with two bedrooms, a sleeping loft, one and a half baths. And in the process, she uncovered original details that had been hidden over time and added vintage character to the updated spaces.
Photography by Devon Banks, courtesy of Denise Lee Architect.
“Because we were trying to blend a modern renovation with the historic details of the building, we chose materials that would complement the patina of the existing elements,” Lee says. Hence the plaster walls and ceilings, which lend a characterful look to the space.
The ladder can be moved to other rails throughout the apartment, like the one above the wine fridge and cabinetry. The green velvet sofa is a remnant from the former owners of the apartment next door.
The architect retained the original window frames and wood paneling and stripped them of multiple layers of paint. The cast iron radiators are original.
The original wood floors were mostly intact, buried beneath engineered wood flooring. They required only minor repair work, plus sanding and refinishing.