Out and About: A sad tale of two kitchens

Brownstone kitchen

What is the antithesis of a “chef’s” kitchen?

One kitchen, in a townhouse floor-through in a Central Park block of the high 80s, fills a nook off a hallway.

The second kitchen fills, overwhelmingly, the living room of a three-bedroom duplex in Lincoln Square.

Both of them are stunning — in the first case because it is so inadequate and, in the second case, because it is so out of scale.

A granite-topped dining table is just visible to the right.

A Silestone-topped dining table is to the right, entry is left of island.

So cramped is the first kitchen that it calls into question its very name name and function.  The space is nothing more than an appendage of the long, narrow hallway leading from the front to the rear of the 900-sf co-op.  To say that the room meets the minimum square footage requirement for a kitchen probably would be a stretch.

The co-op’s best features are some original woodwork retained from the building’s construction in 1910, exposures into a block’s interior gardens through oversize windows, a washer/dryer and through-wall air conditioners.  And the living room — only the living room — is charming.

First hitting the market at $900,000 at the end of May last year, the price stepped down in December to $799,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,184 before jumping up to $825,000 at the end of last month.  How do you spell s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n?

The broker’s description is memorable.  Verbatim, it ends as follows:


You have to love some real estate brokers, no?

Kitchen seen from the banquette behind dining table.

Kitchen seen from the banquette behind dining table.

As for the second apartment, what is shown on the floorplan as “kitchen area” occupies perhaps two thirds of the overall “living area.”  The whole comprises a space that is 22.3 feet by 18 feet, and the two thirds equals approximately 265 feet of just over 400 square feet.

But that’s not the worst of it: Entry is directly into the truncated living area, fit for folks who don’t entertain all that much, and that kitchen “area” dominates the space like a pair of hulking heavyweights in a broom closet.  It looms like a challenge daring anyone to feel comfortable “living.”

In addition, whoever renovated the co-op in a 1906 building near Central Park must have a devoted uncle in the Silestone business.  There are acres of it — on countertops, backsplashes and the top of that table, which seems redundant in view of the extensive kitchen island that thrusts itself into the living area.

But wait!  There’s more!

See that Northland refrigerator at the far end of the massive kitchen?  It’s just 24 inches wide. . . and it’s way too many steps from the sink.

Other appliances are high end, too, the Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, Miele oven and Wolf stovetop. Ah, that stovetop.  It has just two burners — and one them is undersize.  Go figure.

Among other of the unit’s features are a 54-inch television (which, given the useful width of the living area, must really put viewers in the action), two baths of unusually confining size, a true staircase, three bedrooms, Bosch washer/dryer, good closet space, decorative fireplace and built-ins.

On lower floors of its 1906 doorman building with minimal amenities, this place has a slightly reduced asking price of $1.45 million with maintenance per month of $2,772.  It is an understatement to call that a dream.

Below are a few other properties that other brokers have listed and I have visited:

  • A well-priced two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath co-op on West End Avenue in the low 100s.  There are a washer/dryer, three exposures, updated baths, a onetime maid’s room doubling as home office and containing a Murphy bed with drop-down desk, and an expansive kitchen that is appealing without being quite top end.  In a 1912 building with part-time doorman, the apartment is listed at $1.212 million with monthly maintenance of $1,784.
  • On West End Avenue in the mid 70s, a trim studio that has nice open views east from a high floor, a Murphy bed, cute kitchen with 24-inch refrigerator and no oven, recessed lights and big walk-in closet.  The 240-sf main living area is in excellent condition, and the co-op in a pet-friendly 1927 building with few amenities is listed close to a decent price at $375,000 with $506 in maintenance a month.  Unsurprisingly, it found a buyer within two weeks.
  • A vacant two-bedroom, three-bath corner apartment that has rich character, a dining room, large foyer, maid’s room and numerous closets in the mid 90s west of Broadway.  With needed renovations that could run to $500,000 million or more, depending on kitchen (walled with subway tiles) and bath aspirations, this co-op on a low floor enjoys three exposures, the most important ones of which face north over a quiet street.  There are more amenities than usual in a pre-war building (1925), which has a full-time doorman and welcomes pets.  The unit was sold only last January for $1.862 million and went on the market again in mid-April for a reasonable $1.995 million with monthly maintenance of $2,264 before going to contract at the end of May. 

Tomorrow: State’s secret

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Web site

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