Lofty Living On STATEN ISLAND
Damen and Stephanie Hamilton’s bridge to Staten Island took a number of twists and turns along the way, but they are so happy to include their Island loft adventure in their life’s journey together. They were fixed up by a mutual friend in 1996 while attending college in Ithaca, New York, and have been together ever since. Stephanie grew up in Johnsburg in New York’s Adirondacks, and Damen was from Des Moines, Iowa. Stephanie would graduate from college before Damen and relocate to Hoboken after finding a job in Human Resources in New York City. Damen visited frequently while he finished his architectural degree at Cornell, but did not particularly connect to Hoboken as a place he wanted to settle down in. They moved to Brooklyn and bounced around from rental to rental over a 6-year period. Damen worked for a variety of firms and started his own business working on smaller jobs during this time period.
In 2008 Stephanie and Damen decided they wanted to make an investment instead of continuing to pay rent, in order to build equity in their own home and lay a solid foundation for their future together. They would look high and low for the right situation to make an investment in. They looked in Fort Green, but the prices had gone up to the point where they could not afford it and some areas were still a little rough around the edges. They also looked in New Jersey, as well as Bushwick and Williamsburg, but could not find just the right thing.
Then, they came across a loft space on Craig’s List that they thought might be worth a look, so they hopped a ferry to Staten Island, Damen confiding that he had never set foot on Staten Island in his life, and fell in love. The Loft was located on the Staten Island waterfront in a converted, turn-of-the-last-century warehouse. The site had been developed in the early 1980’s as part of an adaptive reuse trend, challenged with reusing buildings for a purpose other than what they were originally intended to be used for. The Bay Street Landing complex, as it is known, is made up of a number of former warehouse buildings converted to coops
and condominium use. The history of the site is dynamic and can be traced to great growth in the mid 1800’s when the the waterfront was a very active and bustling area for commerce, including working piers and warehouses. A number of devastating fires, ca. 1900, spurred new warehouse construction that was fire resistant, and that marketing niche helped re-vitalize the waterfront area as a safe place to house and ship from. A number of these warehouses make up Bay Street Landing today.
Stephanie and Damen responded to the great space and light in the loft as well as the location, views and potential for re-imagining the interior and decorating their new home. The site is pet friendly and has attracted many artists, writers and design professionals over the years. They purchased the loft from an original owner and much needed to be done. Damen martialed his considerable architectural talents and Stephanie started to wonder if this was the right decision for them. They closed on the property in 2008 and completely gutted the interior. The economic downturn, just after 2008 made for a stressful 8-month renovation, but both Stephanie and Damen could not have been happier with the way the loft turned out and the many people they have met, and now call friends, that live at Bay Street Landing.
Damen and Stephanie worked together seamlessly as a design team when it came to their new loft space. They shared many design decisions and an aesthetic that worked well on this project. Damen says that Stephanie puts a lot of faith in him, and he trusts her immensely. Their 100 pound Bernese Mountain Dog “Gala” (named for artist Salvador Dali’s muse and wife) seems to trust them and obviously enjoys full bedroom privileges as well. The overall design principle the Hamiltons worked under during their extensive renovation was to celebrate the space and to use sustainable and salvaged elements whenever and wherever possible. The resulting “industrial chic” look is not only appropriate for the building, but also quite comfortable to live in. The open floor plan required clever use of screening to allow for private areas to be defined. The bedroom is just such a place and includes a pull curtain that can screen off the bed area from the living area. Architectural integrity is so important to the Hamiltons, and they truly appreciate the structural concrete mushroom columns (seen here in the sleep space) that are so much a part of what makes this loft special. They also worked hard to keep the walls neutral and to add color, pattern and visual impact with art, furnishings, fabrics and finishes.
The Hamilton’s loft space is certainly a room with a view. A large 20-foot span of windows looks out to New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty and offers a panoramic view of the city beyond. The environmentally friendly shades can move up and down as needed and can also separate top from bottom allowing for maximum light control.
The hall into the loft space is truly a work of industrial and mid century inspired art. The pendant lighting and exposed conduit work beautifully to highlight the trompe l’ oeil (French for “fool the eye”) effect of making the birch tree wall paper seem to exist in three dimensions. The splash of color and pattern come from the runner and the stained black original hardwood floor. A variety of furnishings and beloved art pieces help to soften the edges and make this a very inviting interior to live and entertain in. The blue grey sofa, upholstered chair and the lights in the hallway were all salvaged items and are used to great effect in the space.
The kitchen in the Hamilton loft is sleek and clean in design. The backsplash is subway tile and the matte black finished Ikea cabinet layout was configured by Damen for maximum design effect. The exposed duct work above the cabinetry is a natural in this space, and the open plan allows for an open dialog between the kitchen and dining room. The stainless work table, with stools, is useful as a food prep area and also is a great place to hang out over coffee and scones. Damen and Stephanie included a chalk board wall to the left as well to write notes to one another or just make some “crazy doodles” on. The floor in the kitchen is made of sustainable cork, which has the added benefit of being soft on the feet.
The dining area utilizes a simple table and chair layout enhanced by two unusual modular lighting hanging fixtures which were a wedding gift from their friends. Different colored chairs and a bold yellow door really make the space come alive.
The full bath in the Hamilton loft is designed for visual taviu impact as well as maximum utility. The floor is very durable Ipe from South America and the wall hanging Duravit toilet and Zuma tub fit beautifully in this well designed space, creating an almost sculptural look to the interior. The door is an Italian design and when closed fits perfectly flush with the walls. Seamless design, meticulous attention to detail and a personal vision combine to make this loft a home to remember.