Turning their Apartment into a Home
Brian Roces and Dori Komarin treat comfy living as an art form
by Frances Madeson
The first time Brian Roces and Dori Komarin viewed the one-bedroom East River apartment that would soon become theirs, it was evening, and the late winter sky was already darkening. They entered the 35-foot hallway leading into the widening foyer, and after a step or two more, stopped in their tracks. Illuminated only by outside light pouring in the oversized window—glittering necklaces gilding the downtown bridges, golden security lights mounted on neighboring buildings, their glow reflected on the water’s fast moving current—they experienced their a-ha! moment. Simultaneously they knew: They were home.
Dori and Brian spent several months working as a close-knit team, contributing their complementary skill sets to the process of transforming the apartment, which was in its original, circa 1951 state. Unified in their vision, they wanted their apartment to feel like a traditional house, decorated with family heirlooms and artifacts, but to function as a 21st century repository for all things technological. For media savvy Dori, who works for the international division of mega-publisher Scholastic, and for technologically adept Brian, who is production systems manager at MTV, their extensive entertainment, information and communications systems would have to be accommodated. At some point after gouging the walls to make space for the electrical infrastructure and then re-plastering them, their contractor, Marty Rouzeau, joked with them about all of the “cats” he had buried in their walls: he was referring, of course, to the cat-6 cables and cat-5e wires for the computer and telephone networks.
Dori’s employer is the publisher of the Harry Potter books, but like most of the company’s 10,000 employees, she did not have early access to the book. While the J.K. Rowling books have been a phenomenon, she also recommends others in their catalogue: “The Patrick Carmon trilogy, The Land of Elyon is excellent, as are the many books by Garth Nix.”
Brian is responsible for identifying, locating and implementing technology solutions across the MTV network worldwide. He expects that MTV, a pioneer of reality television, will continue its emphasis on reality programs, such as the Grand Street based Andy Milonakis show. “There will also be a growing focus on Broadband content delivery, like the live streaming on AOL of the recent Live-8 fundraising concert.” Ironically, he’s so busy concentrating on technology solutions, he has little time to follow pop music, and Dori jokes that he cannot yet distinguish Nirvana from Pearl Jam. “That’s okay, Dori’s got that covered,” Brian noted, pointing with pride to her extensive CD collection.
Some of the more decorative aspects of the renovation included white-trimmed crown molding accenting fresh coats of Benjamin Moore paint, color #309, aptly named Ambiance. Most of the work and expense were devoted to retiring the previously pink bathroom for a glistening all-white one. Kohler fixtures, including a deep tub with matching Moen shower body, and a pedestal sink and toilet replaced the originals. A mirrored medicine cabinet and glass-shaded lights were mounted, as was a slim glass shelf, which houses their international shot glass collection, one of many whimsical touches.
The old floor was replaced with Travertine stone purchased from Lowe’s in Hicksville, a store they shopped in so often, that in time, the staff greeted them across the showroom floor with a shout and a wave— “Hey Brian; Hi Dori.” For this young couple, the renovation is now a fond memory. And home has become an even richer place, where adobo, a traditional chicken stew from the Philippines, redolent with vinegar, soy sauce and herbs, simmers on the stove; where Dori’s artist mom can crash on a big cushy futon in the living room when she’s in town; where their cat Bacchus can curl comfortably on a favorite chair and enjoy a little cheese snack. “Cheese?” I asked her.
“Bacchus is 18 years old,” Dori explained. “If he wants cheese, I give him cheese.”