velvet and mercury glass

Christine’s makeover is a great demonstration of the dictum, “work with what you have.” The most common response to living in a space with low natural light is to try to cheer things up by painting the rooms yellow. Only here’s the rub: yellow is a tricky color – even for a designer – and it works best in strong southern light. Christine’s apartment does face south, but the deep overhanging balcony out front blocks most of that light (not a bad trade off to have private outdoor space in New York City). She had the same type of light as a north-facing home, and needed cool, neutral paint colors to bring out the best in the space.

Aside from paint color, we did a Readymade Decorating ™ revamp, keeping a few pieces of her existing furniture while updating others. I would have loved to swap out the parquet flooring but the budget didn’t support it. Instead, we used wall-to-wall wool sisal to cozy up the bedroom, and large area rugs elsewhere.

Also see the before and after video. 

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Above and below: In addition to cosmetic changes, we opened the wall between the living room and bedroom, adding ribbed glass doors there and in the existing opening to the office. Above, right, you can see where we used blue painter’s tape to mock up the doorway. Crown molding, deeper baseboards and door casings were also added.



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Above and below: We moved a closet opening out of the dining area and into the bathroom hallway. We also added a ribbed glass pocket door (so that guests don’t have to stare at the bathroom while they eat). A new double drum shade replaces the old light fixture. Above, right, you can see where we used blue painter’s tape to mock up the door frame.

Below: At the entry, we framed a series of Christine’s photos to create a gallery wall that also disguises the circuit breaker and intercom. An old wood mirror was repainted to match the platinum frames. In the kitchen, we covered the impossible-to-clean white floor tiles with Flor carpet tiles (easy to rinse off in the shower if there’s a big spill).


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Above and below: The bedroom now has so much more natural light with the french doors. Because Christine often works from home, we built a large desk and bookcase to frame the window, and swapped vertical blinds for a roman shade. The desktop stain was matched to the beautiful cherry armoire and bed frame she already owned.