When Jane Krolik talks about her family's Mercer Street apartment, one word keeps recurring: floating. "I wanted everything to float -- the banquettes, the desk, the room we call the Sugarcube," she says. "It's like heaven and earth." Heaven, in this case, is the glowing polycarbonate box that encases the pocket-size bedroom of her 6-year-old daughter, Daisy. More earthy is the brown wool banquette, a twenty-foot L shape that simultaneously hides the baseboard heating and brings her guests close to the source of warmth. Until last year, however, Krolik's home and hearth were entirely pedestrian: Two narrow rooms split the 2,000-square-foot space down the middle; the low-ceilinged second floor was used primarily for storage. So when architects Parsons + Fernandez-Casteleiro suggested tearing down the walls, bleaching the floors, and making the second floor glow, Krolik jumped at the chance. "I wanted something spartan, but unusual," she says. Every knob, switch, intercom, and computer that could be hidden was tucked behind minimalist doors, leaving the apartment as clean as a canvas and ready for improvisation. Like her sofa cushions, custom-made from an Op Arty fuzzy textile. "The fabric was very mod-looking, but the furriness of it was hysterical," she says. "It's not painfully serious." Krolik's vision of heaven, it seems, includes a sense of humor. Above: Krolik originally planned a chandelier for the living room, but found that the Sugarcube provided enough overhead drama. "It became the focus of the apartment: a suspended gigantic light fixture," says architect Manuel Fernandez of Parsons + Fernandez-Casteleiro. The shell is made of sheets of polycarbonate bolted to a metal grid; pink fluorescent bulbs behind the Plexiglas create a mellow glow. Daisy's bedroom, with a bird's-eye view of the living room, is tucked inside. The staircase, made of oak pickled white, runs at a slight angle, opening the view into the living room. Krolik designed the stainless-steel oval visible at top. It swings out from her desk, at the head of the stairs, and works as both a decorative element and a railing.
The brown wool cushions were made by a marine upholsterer in Oklahoma City, so the family need fear no leaks. "Brown is the chic-est, softest color," she says, "and the paprika ottomans" -- Tatone hassocks, from M2L -- "make it a little more homey." The white leather love seats and laminate coffee table are from Cassina, chosen for their cloudlike appearance. On the floor, a hand-bound felt oval from Carpet Innovations "almost looks like a pond."