This NYC apartment had an elegant open plan update for modern family living

Streamlined and open plan for easy entertaining and modern family life, this Upper East Side apartment has a new identity

living room with white sofa and ottoman with bright patterned rug view to dining table and chandelier beyond
(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

This apartment on Park Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City was originally several apartments which had since been combined. Designed by architect Emery Roth, and built in 1925, apartments in this building are highly sought after. This one, one of the world's best homes, has recently been renovated, with the aim to transform a traditional Park Avenue apartment into a modern home for a family of five.

'Modern, elevated, but warm and comfortable,' is how Thomas Morbitzer of Ammor Architecture (opens in new tab) describes the apartment's new style, the result of a collaboration between the firm and the apartment's owners, a couple with three young children. The redesign took a very classic Upper East Side apartment, with multiple rooms, separate kitchen, formal dining room, sitting room and bedrooms arranged off a central hallway, and transformed it into something much more modern. 

'Much of what we did was to reorganize the structure of the space to create expanse – or a blur,' explains Thomas Morbitzer. 'From the way the main living/dining is combined into one volume, to other kinds of details like the long expansive sofa in the play room – or the master closet which used to be many spaces – we made it one. It’s a New York apartment that doesn’t feel cramped.' 

Indeed, Morbitzer and his colleague Goil Amornvivat at Ammor Architecture, have worked wonders in this space, confidently bringing it into the 21st century, while still respecting its historic origins and character. 

Kitchen

kitchen with white cabinets and black worktopspale floor with view to eating space and gallery wall

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

Anyone looking for smart kitchen ideas can't fail to be inspired by this streamlined space. 

The Kitchen is by Ornare, a Brazilian cabinet company that features luxury details. 'Important in this space is the new ambient lighting and a dining area that better utilizes the space with a counter-height banquette,' explains Goil Amornvivat. 

The flooring is large format grey porcelain from Roca.  The counters are manmade stone from Silestone. 

Breakfast nook

breakfast table at end of kitchen with gallery wall and open shelving

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

Perhaps the biggest symbol of this apartment's transformation into modern family living, is the addition of the new breakfast nook in the kitchen space. With its smart gallery wall behind, it keeps a lid on 'casual'. In this Manhattan apartment, even when you're sitting on a custom banquette and grabbing a quick bite to eat, traditional elegance is maintained! 

Formal dining room

polished wood dining table with chandelier above and dark rug on wood flooring with gray cupboard and pale dining chairs

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

Previously a separate space, the dining room is now open plan to the living room. Dining room ideas include wide width clear oak floors and custom cabinetry. 'It was key to have one gracious space for extended family gatherings and day to day life,' explains Goil. An elegant chandelier and contemporary artworks help to reference the apartment's traditional origins and its new modern-day persona respectively. 

Living room

Living room with white sofa and ottoman and bright patterned rug on dark floor with fireplace and view to dining room behind and chandelier

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

This view of the open plan living-diner shows how the new dropped ceiling provides uniform lighting to the enlarged space. It also conceals a new sound system. 

'The ceiling crown was eliminated, and the drapery now recesses into a pocket above the drop ceiling. The absence of added trims adds expense to the walls and ceiling in a very modern definition,' adds Goil. 

Living room ideas for the open space include the bright white sofa and ottoman, which help to emphasise the apartment's brighter look, and a traditional rug that introduces a splash of color, plus Dolcezza fixed sheer drapes by EILITIS. 

Home office

home office with desk and chair and red sofa with open shelving

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

Anyone looking for Home office ideas will feel a pang of envy at this well-designed space. The office has a new pocket door from the living room and double pocket doors to the gallery. An inviting sofa adds an extra touch of luxury and comfort to the work room. 

'The room can be made open, but also private,' explains Goil, 'and features a partner desk so the couple can work together. It is a custom jewel box with white oak panels and wood cabinetry. We created a simple base for décor to be placed.' 

Young child's bedroom

pink bedroom with striped wallpaper and pink accessories

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

If you're looking for classic baby girl nursery ideas this baby’s room might be exactly what you had in mind. With its delicate pink and white stripe wall covering and custom cabinets. The same pink was used for a custom en-suite vanity.

Older child's bedroom 

bedroom with dark blue wall and wide striped bedcovers and open shelves and windows

(Image credit: Matt Dutile)

The boys bedrooms both have custom white cabinetry that provides a sharp contrast to the deep denim color wallcovering by Holly Hunt. Open shelves and a run of low cupboards under the windows help to keep toys tidy. 

Now the work is finished, how do the owners feel about their redesigned space? 

'The clients were thrilled and are very happy in the new home. The house affords enough space for work and school at home as well as getting back to ‘normal’,' says Goil Amornvivat of Ammor Architecture. 'We were very pleased with their commitment to the modern design elements that create a sense of order and balance, from the overall look to individual elements and details. The contrast in color makes the spaces feel brighter and highlights the art and personal elements.'

Architecture, Fittings, and Custom Millwork: Ammor Architecture LLP (opens in new tab) 

Design: Ana Maria G. de Vieira Santos (opens in new tab)

Karen Darlow
Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine, starting to write album reviews just as they switched from vinyl to CD releases. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.