Long on Style: Polishing a High-Rise Gem

Perched 18 floors above the Shrewsbury River, the Fromkins transformed their galley kitchen into something as stunning as their view.

Ivee and Sam Fromkin's Monmouth Beach kitchen has jewel-like finishes, but plenty of space for cooking equipment and storage.
Ivee and Sam Fromkin's Monmouth Beach kitchen has jewel-like finishes, but plenty of space for cooking equipment and storage.
Photo by Laura Moss

The sweeping views of the Shrewsbury River, the Atlantic Ocean and the New York skyline from Sam and Ivee Fromkin’s 18th-floor Monmouth Beach apartment never get old. But after 25 years, the same could not be said of the Fromkins’ galley-style kitchen, which was showing wear and tear from daily use, frequent entertaining and rambunctious grandchildren.

“I wanted to maximize the space with as much cooking equipment and storage as I could,” says Ivee, an interior designer. She updated and expanded the space, transforming it into a stylish and hard-working kitchen. “I think I got every bit out of it.” (The apartment itself, created by combining two units into one, is a generous 3,650 square feet.)

To open up the kitchen, Fromkin raised the ceiling, making the space feel larger, and removed a wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room. She stole 4 feet from the dining room and installed a counter with seating for four, placed on an angle to optimize the view while dining. While still a galley kitchen, it feels more spacious—yet everything is easily accessible. When cooking, “I don’t need to take a step,” she says. “Everything is within my finger tips.”

Fromkin was able to fit a double oven in the new kitchen (originally there was just a single wall oven); other appliances were also upgraded. The refrigerator has distinctive, French-style glass doors. “I love the look of it,” she says. “It’s like a gem.”

Materials were chosen for beauty and functionality. Countertops are hammered black granite in a dull finish. That distinguishes them from the shiny black granite floors—original to the apartment, but tough to keep clean. “I didn’t want any shine on the counters,” says Fromkin. “This surface wipes clean. You can’t see fingerprints or dust.” The counter’s rough edges add texture and interest. The glass-front cabinets are practical and pretty. “I love the glass doors because you literally know where you’re going,” she says. “I don’t need to look for anything.”

The tile backsplash is white Carerra marble, cut in two different sizes for added interest. Walls are painted white with a pale lilac inside the tray ceilings. “Just a tiny pop of color,” Fromkin says.

The reconfigured space allows for a bar area on the dining-room side where the Fromkins display their collection of cocktail shakers. “We’ve used them all,” she jokes. The bar stools, purchased in 1990, got a new lease on life with crisp, white slipcovers. Fromkin just tosses them in the washing machine to clean. Pleased with the look and easy care, Fromkin proceeded to slipcover all the living-room furniture in the same pure-white cotton fabric. “The slipcovers make the whole place look new and fresh,” she says. “My grandchildren jump up and down on the furniture, and it’s no problem.”

The kitchen, completed in 2008, still looks chic and new. For the Fromkins, it’s the heart of their home. “Every night we eat dinner at the counter and watch the sunset,” says Sam. “The view is what keeps us here.”

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