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Bright Idea

How to let light into a long, dark loft? Cover it in materials that shine.

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You'd never know it, but this 1,400-square-foot Village loft used to be, literally, a black hole. Dark, dank, with an eighties-era sleeping platform, holes in the floor, an unspeakable bathroom. "Absolutely not one thing stayed there," says interior designer Bruce Bananto, "except an old door covered in aluminum, on slides, that opened onto a brick wall." Bananto, of Bananto Hedjazi, kept the door because it suited his directive: getting light to the center of the 75-foot-long space, using only materials that shine and shimmer. He quickly sheathed the ceiling in panels of pressed tin, left unpainted; he covered the ratty floor in plywood stained a rich black-brown and waxed to a high sheen. Laminated glass, translucent with a green cast, now hides a view of an ugly building in back, and gives the master bath both daylight and privacy. The bathroom, in fact, is the only walled room in the house -- Bananto strung the other necessities in a wide-open row: a stainless steel kitchen, a desk tucked behind a lacquered door, a cool, curtained bedroom. The light, once scarce, now literally bounces from room to room. Proving that no apartment has to be left in the dark.


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