great rooms

Bed in a Box

Just how much drama can you pack into a studio apartment?

Bed Box (Closed): The sleeping container is hidden behind these burl-wood shutters. Photo: Alan Tansey
Bed Box (Closed): The sleeping container is hidden behind these burl-wood shutters. Photo: Alan Tansey

Bryan Young, principal of Young Projects, has worked with Michael and Sukey Novogratz for 20 years on various homes, including their 20,000-square-foot beachfront getaway in the Dominican Republic. In New York, the Novogratzes live atop an 11-story building in Tribeca, and when a 500-square-foot studio became available downstairs, they bought it, intending to use it as a guest apartment.

This studio was a comparatively small project for Young: When he got to work on it more than a year ago, it had all the appeal of a college-dorm room, complete with a platform bed topping a mountain of boxes and piles of neglected stuff at one end and, at the other, a structure harboring more mess adjacent to the open kitchen.

Bed Box (Open): Inside, it’s big enough to have a nightstand. There is no lid to it, so you can stare up at the ceiling and the Bloom chandelier (by Morghen Studio). Photo: Alan Tansey

Young decided to make the small space as dramatic as possible, starting with the ceiling. The swirling clouds of plasterwork are the result of a technique created for a proposal of a redesign of the performance space The Kitchen. “We didn’t win,” Young says, “but as part of our proposal we developed this plaster proto-type, which is kind of hands-on, analog in nature. We worked digitally in the office to generate a pretty complex form.” Creating the mold for that entailed using pencil rod and furniture foam. “So it’s a very DIY sensibility of how we were able to create something pretty complex.” It was made by Nathan Frey of Masterworks Plaster.

The studio, before. Courtesy of Bryan Young.
The studio, before. Courtesy of Bryan Young.

On the one hand, it “resonates with the ornamental graphic of tin ceilings in terms of its repetition,” says Young, “and on the other hand, it definitely feels bespoke and artisan, the way a plaster craftsman would do a rosette in the middle of the ceiling.” It draws your eye to its billowing landscape, echoed by the creamy area rug below.

He tucked the bed away in its own cozy burl-wood box. There’s a closet, night table, and bookshelf within this little sleep haven, and the area can be closed off by a panel Young describes as “reminiscent of a free-standing screen in a room.”

The good thing about a place for guests is that it “allows for a certain immersiveness that might be a little more intense because it’s designed for a short-term stay, and in that sense it can be more of a dynamic environment.”

The studio, after: The built-in banquette faces a brushed-aluminum kitchenette beneath three windows. Young picked the painting, center, by Sage Vaughn, from the clients’ collection for the wall. “It fortuitously seems to work quite well in terms of size and color.” Photo: Alan Tansey

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A Tribeca Studio With a Bed in a Box