Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Back In Shape

Photo by Max Burkhalter.

Some people consider renovations to be a trial; decisions and discomfort are borne for the end result. Others consider renovations a creative act, a process that is just as much of a reward as a home tailored to your exact taste. The clients for this luxurious yet laid-back 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Carnegie Hill neighborhood were firmly in the second camp. “Together, we’ve renovated two apartments, and we built a house from the ground up on the Jersey Shore,” says the wife, a lawyer. “Our last apartment definitely leaned traditional. Our beach house was midcentury modern. Over time, we’ve become more interested in taking some design risks.” She and her husband, who works in finance, were looking for a younger designer, one who thrives on collaboration with craftspeople. “We live in a city that is filled with artists and talent and creativity, and we wanted to harness that in our home,” she says.

They found their match in Michael K. Chen Architecture, a nine-year-old practice known for bold colors and bolder juxtapositions of materials, eras, and shapes. “They asked me specifically to challenge them a bit,” says Chen.