Classic Benenson Warren Residence, New York by Specht Harpman Architects

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When is retro actually cutting-edge? When it’s the blend of two vintage apartments into one, as Specht Harpman Architects did for a growing family wanting to spread out a bit. The conversion involved putting together two “classic six” apartments — a “classic six” being a six-room apartment in a pre-war building with a living room, formal dining room, two bedrooms, kitchen, maid’s room, and anywhere from one to three bathrooms. Among the classic architectural details that link the two, hardwood floors have steps heading from a sunken living room to what appears to be a reclaimed hallway between the two original dwellings. From the edge of the living room, one can go up a modern staircase to “adult”-scale bedrooms filled with light — or children’s quarters with décor just their style.

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From the sunken living room, an easy two steps lead to an eat-in kitchen filled with light wood grain cabinets that rise into an open “divider” neatly separating the cooking area from an eat-in nook. The touches here are modern and retro at the same time: the kitchen set has the smooth, curved look of furniture from the 60s and 70s, while the appliances are stainless steel, as are two cushioned stools pulled up to a handy island that contains a sink and enough counter space for quick snacks. Further “retro” touches abound: hanging circular lights above the kitchen and dining room tables, more curved chairs in the dining area, a fuzzy rug on the living room floor. Even a bath is at once modern in spirit, with easy, clean lines…and retro in the style of lighting and storage. Surprisingly enough, however, even recognizable “throwback” furnishings and touches don’t date this space; indeed, it is an adaptable style that can be repurposed, as need be, for years to come.

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