Is it possible to create flexible and health-conscious yet unconfined residential interiors for the post-pandemic age? The architects at prolific New York City architectural firm CetraRuddy believe so. The innovative and malleable interior designs they created over the past few months are applicable not only during quarantines of the kind endured lately, but also during ordinary times faced by growing families with evolving needs.
Create flex spaces
Unused rooms or pockets of space should be viewed as “flex spaces,’ according to CetraRuddy. Depending on need, raw space can be transformed into a nursery, kids’ playroom, home office, home school or guest room. The addition of texturized sliding glass doors within an open layout or corridor can cordon off space as needed.
“Flexibility in planning is vital to making apartments more adaptable to people’s modern lives,” says Nancy J. Ruddy, CetraRuddy principal. “Examples include the flex spaces we created for the apartments at [NoMad high-rise] Rose Hill. Designed in varied sizes and useful as open areas or behind closed doors, these multipurpose spaces are attached to the living room and an be used as libraries, guest rooms, nurseries, or work-from-home areas. It has proven to be a prescient idea in this time of increased home office need . . . More and more, we hear homebuyers are searching for layouts that can flex and adapt to fit their evolving needs and life’s [unpredictable] demands.”
The flex spaces being incorporated in today’s new residential buildings actually harken to an earlier age, when apartments offered spaces delivering the flexibility required by residents through different life stages. “Many of the ideas from the pre-war apartment layouts seen in Manhattan, for example, are recalled in the elements residents truly desire today,” says Ximena Rodriquez, director of interior design at CetraRuddy.
Let sunshine in
Science is increasingly linking human health and well-being to the ability to live at least part of our lives outdoors. Bringing nature inside or carving spaces to lounge outdoors will be key to resetting from a global pandemic or recovering from any number of other day-to-day stresses. CetraRuddy recently completed Midtown Manhattan’s 200 East 59th Street, using wraparound terraces more associated with Miami than New York City. The terraces enable every unit to boast sprawling outdoor space, yet are designed to reduce noise and guard against glare, solar heat gain and ultraviolet exposure.
“At 200 East 59th, where every unit’s living room seamlessly merges with a wraparound terrace, that acts as an extension of the indoor experience,” Rodriguez says. “Floor-to-ceiling glass walls bring in ample light and provide the access to the fresh air we all crave. In addition, by planning the interiors carefully, we created columnless spaces that are even more open and spacious.”
Embrace smart floor plans
Those column-free interiors at 200 East 59th were achieved by pushing all support structures to the tower’s exterior. That layout makes it possible for residents to use the unobstructed spaces as their own personal canvases, on which they can create their ideal layouts with no interference from building design. A living room can feature banquets or nooks, and a dining room can be placed in a corner, against a wall, or in the middle of a space. The result: Apartments that are anything but cookie cutter.
“Creating flexibility and adaptability in one’s own home interiors is essential to everyday life during quarantine, and an overall more fulfilling and enjoyable experience,” Ruddy says. “This starts by discovering and fully embracing the many ways our rooms and furnishings can bring people even greater joy by maximizing their usefulness. Exploring your own flexible home begins with planning and layout and then by considering inventive and longstanding ways to incorporate more adaptable furniture designs and custom millwork, which can expand uses and availability of floor space.”