A conversation with Frederick Wildfoerster of Virtus Design
More popular than ever in New York City, combining two or even three apartments can be the route to an ideal home. The success of the combination lies in the balance.
\\ What is the first step in approaching the task of combining multiple apartments?
FW: If possible, we seek out the original floor plans to understand how the space was conceived. Many New York spaces are the result of previous divisions. Whenever possible, we return the space to the integrity of the original architecture. Of course, structural considerations need to be considered along with the client’s needs and lifestyle.
\\ How do you make a combined dwelling feel like a unified whole?
FW: Flow is crucial! Though there may be dedicated spaces for different purposes (work/living, for example), a unified design scheme is important. Coherent lighting and flooring help to unify.
\\ How do you optimize the investment of combining apartments?
FW: Larger apartments are in more and more demand. A unified aesthetic throughout will make it easier to sell. For example, when creating multiple bathrooms in a combined unit, we will use similar materials and fixtures, perhaps varying the colors—but the overall feeling remains coherent.
\\ Besides the increase in square footage, what changes the most in the combined apartment?
FW: The whole needs to be greater than the sum of the parts. Beyond just more rooms, combining two apartments generally offers the opportunity to make the entry and/or living area more gracious, welcoming and visually interesting. There is a change in scale which impacts decorating choices and the scale of the art you display.
\\ How do you recommend adapting the second kitchen of the combined apartment?
FW: Since NYC regulations do not allow two full kitchens, clients have a few options for their combined apartment: laundry room, wine room or a prep area for parties.
\\ Is the formal dining room extinct?
FW: In city apartments, we recommend making the dining room a multi-functional, useful space. Beyond a place for a table and chairs, the dining room can also encompass a client’s library or serve as a music room. The room will be more interesting, warmer in feeling, and more likely to be used often.
\\ Any other advice for those who wish to combine apartments?
FW: We always recommend that clients have at least a five-year plan for their needs. If you can articulate upcoming potential needs or changes, then your interior designer can make sure the design will work for you over time. For example, we have helped clients who were planning to expand the family, or who wanted to make sure their apartment would continue to be comfortable for them as they age.