The Manhattan Micro Loft in New York is a residential renovation by Specht Harpman that takes maximizing space to a whole new level – literally. The apartment is on the top level of a 6-story brownstone; it had a teeny tiny footprint but an unbelievably high ceiling of over 24ft. The architects, adept at making the most out of nothing took advantage of the height by creating two narrow staircases within the home that lead upward to various zones before opening up to a new roof garden. One of the other unique features of the stairwells is the creation of a modern day Japanese Kaidan-dansu storage system in each of them.
By designing upward, Specht Harpman was able to create four separate living platforms as well as a roof garden that also acts as a extra daylight source for the interior spaces. On the first level is the kitchen and bathroom, up a short flight of stairs is the living room. A Kaidan-dansu then leads up to the bedroom which is cantilevered over the living room and a second Kaidan-dansu leads up to the roof garden.
The kitchen is on the lowest of the four levels and features fully concealed appliances and flip up high storage units for easy access. It has a countertop that wraps around its privacy/storage wall and moves into the living room where it is integrated into the media wall.
With the living room several steps up from the kitchen, the wrap around counter is transformed into hearth height seating or shelving.
The bathroom is positioned off of the kitchen across the room from the cooktop and under the stairwell that leads up to the bedroom. Small in size, the architects where still able to feature a large mirror by installing it on the inside of the door.
The Kaidan-dansu in the living room has a modern geo-style aesthetic that is enhanced by the vertical rows of steel balustrade. The dark wood zigzag is created by the edge of the treads and risers, and the grid pattern of the doors and drawers within the Kaidan-dansu itself.
The sharp clean lines of the Kaidan-dansu, juxtaposed against the rough texture of the exposed brick wall, are beautiful.
Upstairs on the 3rd level the bedroom is supported on steel beams, allowing it to cantilever out and over the main living area below. A second Kaidan-dansu doubles as the closet area and the staircase to the roof garden.
By keeping all the walls white (with the exception of the bedroom cantilever which is the same dark wood as the stairs and floors) the overall height of the space is visually reduced.
The 2nd Kaidan-dansu features the same details as the first but instead of being juxtaposed against rough brick, the back wall is a clean, smooth white.
Even though the exterior wall to the roof deck is clad in windows, the bed tucked in beneath it is completely private from the nearby buildings.
It’s a unique and clever design that interleaves each level and puts every square inch to use. Materials throughout are chosen for their ability to keep the space light and bright but at the same time cozy and intimate. Thanks to the number of built-in features, the furnishings are kept to a minimum with only a couch, coffee table, bed and side chair.
Photography by Taggart Sorenson