From the October/November 2023 Issue  

High Style

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Bilyana Dimitrova  |  Designer Dean Marchetto, FAIA, and Paula Rocha, NCIDQ  |  Architect SHoP Architects  |  Location Hoboken, NJ

In a Hoboken loft, bold accents emphasize the architecture

The soaring fireplace is a focal point of the main floor. For the walls, Dean Marchetto and Paula Rocha chose two distinct treatments. “To distinguish between the exterior perimeter walls and the interior perimeter walls, a Venetian plaster was applied to the interior walls in a three-coat process to add depth and complexity,” Marchetto says. “Although separated by the upper level’s balcony, the Venetian plaster treatment helps minimize this vertical separation and gives the double height its continuity.” The wall finish coordinates with the simulated stone cladding on the fireplace base.

The Hoboken, New Jersey, building that houses this three-bedroom loft was built in the early 20th century as a warehouse to store coconuts. The loft itself, though, was built much more recently, during a 2007 renovation by Manhattan-based SHoP Architects that added two stories to the original structure. “The two new floors are set back from the original roof line,” Dean Marchetto says, “to create modern, light-filled, duplex apartments with wraparound decks.”

Marchetto, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a founding principal of MHS Architecture in Hoboken, worked with Paula Rocha, NCIDQ, an associate interior design director at the firm, to create a home that was a departure from the owners’ previous residence. Rocha explains, “The clients’ acquisition of the loft brought about a lifestyle shift from the suburbs to urban living. They embraced this change by enthusiastically adopting a fresh perspective and prioritizing efficiency and modern, clean lines. Their goal was to use the loft’s minimalistic raw space as a backdrop for a colorful intervention, taking advantage of the soaring height and abundant light.” Marchetto adds, “We wanted to make an interior design overlay to work with the modern architecture.”

“We wanted to make an interior design overlay to work with the modern architecture and create art-filled spaces,” Marchetto says. The art on the second-story wall is an abstract painting titled “Circle” by artist Juan Restrepo. The triptych in the dining area is “Untitled” by Mario Torroella.

One of the most striking aspects of the architecture is its height, which is accentuated by tall, rectangular windows and a fireplace that reaches 22 feet to the ceiling. “The flue naturally emerges as the most prominent visual feature within the space,” Rocha says. “Dean, recognizing its significance, designed it in a manner that would appropriately honor its role within the overall aesthetic of the space.”

Marchetto highlighted the fireplace by creating a sloped profile for the base, cladding it in simulated stone and adding a copper mantel and face. “Those additions give the fireplace a well-proportioned base and introduce materials that add interest to the structure,” he says. The flue is embellished further with custom tapestry that’s tall and narrow to mimic the space around it.

The tapestry features bands of bold color that coordinate with the accents in the room. The furniture — in gray, blue and rust tones — is topped by throw pillows in vibrant shades of purple and red. Dining chairs in the adjacent eating area repeat the purple hue. A triptych on the wall above the table ups the ante with bright strokes of red, pink, green and black creating a riot of color against the wood tones of the adjacent kitchen.

“The abundance of natural light in the double-height space, along with the wife’s love of color, inspired the choice to infuse the space with vibrant hues,” Marchetto says. “The bold and expressive use of color is balanced against the towering white walls, resulting in a visually captivating atmosphere.”

A wood grille on the ceiling in the kitchen conceals the building’s mechanicals. “The depth and shape of the blades help to define the kitchen area, creating a visual dialogue with the existing kitchen’s peninsula,” Rocha says. The inset door in the column leads to a slide-out pantry.

Furniture was selected with an eye toward functionality, aesthetic appeal and comfort. In the living room, a low-slung sofa and sleek chairs work with the modern architecture, creating a juxtaposition with the vertical lines of the fireplace. “Despite the challenge of a limited seating area, we devised an arrangement with curated pieces to cater to both personal use and intimate family gatherings,” Marchetto says.

In the kitchen, a wood grille on the ceiling creates interest and establishes a clear delineation between the cooking and dining areas; it also serves a more practical purpose. “The ceiling blades were designed to conceal the chaotic nature of the building’s mechanical systems,” Rocha explains.

“Managing light from the west-facing windows presented a challenge,” Rocha says. “The solution came from the use of programmable, controlled shades throughout.”

Marchetto and Rocha gave just as much thought to the exterior spaces as the interiors. Marchetto notes, “The deck provides a visual extension of the interior space, offering a private, landscaped outdoor space that takes the edge off urban living.” The outdoor spaces are infused with vivid color in the form of a bright red dining table and matching Adirondack-style chairs and a blue “window seat” in a partially enclosed nook.

“Having an elevated, private open space was a major factor in the clients’ decision to purchase this condo,” Rocha notes. “They use the outdoor space for family dinners, entertaining friends or to simply relax while taking in some sun in the warmer months.”

“The garden affords a degree of privacy and extends the idea of abundant color in the unit,” Rocha says of the plantings on the deck.

“We created a partially enclosed outdoor nook that provides a comfortable perch to relax or read,” Marchetto says.

The deck wraps around two sides of the unit, offering views to the Empire State Building and Hudson Yards in Manhattan and the surrounding buildings of Hoboken.