Trash to Treasure

Randy Polumbo lives to salvage. The founder of 3-D Laboratory Inc., a construction company that deals in high-end residential and commercial work, he has built jaw-dropping homes for Maya Lin, Rafael Viñoly, and Santiago Calatrava and, in February, completed Taschen’s Soho shop. You might expect his own space to be just as pristine, but Polumbo’s Peck Slip loft is resolutely humble—at first glance.

The building itself was developed as a commercial site in the late-eighteenth century. When he scouted it in 2002, it wasn’t for sale, but after presenting the Seaport Museum with photos of his restoration work in the neighborhood, the property was soon his. “I told them I’d make it the northern gatepost of our historic district,” he says.

He’s since created an art studio (he’s also a sculptor) on the third floor and carved out a two-bedroom apartment for himself and his 9-year-old daughter, Nico, on the top. The result, as evidenced by its living area, is a study in contradictions; the rough-hewn kitchen island (an eBay find) hides a state-of-the art Miele dishwasher and Gaggenau steam oven.

Nothing goes to waste. The kitchen sink and backsplash, for example, are made from a recovered oak library table. Polumbo fashioned a fireplace out of old lockers. His skill with power tools helps, but so does his facility with eBay. “Everything I buy is cheap,” he says, pointing to the island. “It’s the shipping that’s expensive.”

Styling by Carla Ercole.Photo: David Allee
Photo: David Allee

1. Lighting Fixture
The Murano-glass sphere was purchased at Las Venus (163 Ludlow St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-982-0608).

2. Cabinet
Polumbo found the homemade oak-and-plywood display cabinet at a rummage sale in Bellport, New York. “I like that it’s something someone pounded together— it has a street pedigree,” he says.

3. Dining Chairs
This Charlotte Perriand design was found at CITE eight or nine years ago, “before they became expensive.” Polumbo leaves them cushionless so you can see their seams and hardware.

4. The Dining Table
Made by mounting an antique workbench surface on a cast- iron base. “You can find original tops at old locksmith shops or new ones at Granger,” says Polumbo. “They make great countertops too.”

5. The Floors
Polumbo restored the 200-year-old pine planks, which had large gaps and burn marks.

6. Punching Bag
Two minutes working the Everlast bag wipes Polumbo out. “It is like a lullaby or tranquilizer of sorts.” Plus, he admits, “it looks cool up there.”

7. The Sofa
One of the few expensive pieces, the Ed Wormley–designed sofa was purchased at Donzella Ltd. (17 White St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-965-8919), where Polumbo also found the coffee table.

8. Copper Lamps
Polumbo picked up these vintage Danish designs at Baxter & Liebchen (33 Jay St., at Plymouth St., Brooklyn; 718-797-0630).

9. Aluminum Siding
Because the building is within spitting distance of an active power plant, the owner clad the stairwell with industrial-grade protective material.

Photo: David Allee

1. Stove
Built in 1910; found on eBay for $80. Polumbo cast the parts to replace missing knobs.

2. The Sink
A company in Mexico carved the travertine basin to the owner’s specs; with shipping, it came to $500, “which is still less than an Elkay and in 500 years will still look this good.”

3. Tools
Polumbo, who is “99 percent vegan,” uses the cleaver to whack open coconuts.

Photo: David Allee

The Fireplace
Polumbo fashioned the wood-burning hearth out of abandoned lockers.

Polumbo believes the antique cast-iron and sewage-pipe balustrade once belonged to a church. “I have a soft spot for ecclesiastical garbage,” he says.

Trash to Treasure