The Heart of Great New York Residential Design

To independent architect/interior designer Jae Chang, modern design is about taking something classic and proven and making it contemporary, habitable and inviting. When he was approached to design and renovate a Madison Avenue apartment for a fellow architect, he leapt at the chance to transform the outdated, underused space into a modern, functional, showcase apartment.

Located near the historic Morgan Library in Manhattan, the prewar building was rife with Old World charms: high ceilings, arched doorways, thick walls and a sturdy foundation. Chang used the distinctions of the classic building as inspiration, designing a neoteric New York apartment with a mid-century feel.

According to Chang, modern design isn’t just about creating something brand new and shiny, with sharp edges and eccentric angles. It is also about renovation and revival, simply clearing the forest for new growth.

“The project was a white canvas, but I wanted to evoke the old soul of the building,” said Chang. “It was a gut renovation, but the building had such good bones. So we replicated existing details of the structure. We went with a simple crown, simple base and simple panels. I wanted it to be both modern and timeless.”

One of the common complaints of residents of prewar apartment buildings is creaky floors. Chang addressed this summarily, choosing only rift sawn white oak from Frank Miller Lumber for the hardwood flooring.

“The floor was one of the most important things I wanted to address early,” added Chang. “We ended up going with white oak to keep it lighter in color and modern, but durable.”

Completed in spring 2011, the 1,500 square-foot project took Chang and his team 11 months to complete. The hardwood flooring was manufactured byWilson Woodworks.