When it comes to buying a home in New York City, being overly picky is hardly a good idea. Given that real estate is hard to come by and the demand for housing continues to grow, potential homeowners may stick to a shortlist of must-have criteria – things like on-site laundry; a kitchen that does not require complete gutting; A view that isn’t your neighbor’s bathroom. For Lisa and Anthony, a married couple in their mid-40s with one child, the shortlist contained details from the prewar period, comfort and the oh-so-elusive and highly sought-after “character”. They found it in a charming building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. At 2,800 square feet, these four bedrooms had enough space for their family and beautiful details – incredible moldings, wooden floors and a breathtaking fireplace. The disadvantage? Limited storage space, lack of natural light, and the urgent need for an update. After the shortlist criteria were met, the couple turned to Décor Aid to find out the rest. The project was featured in the Huffington Post.
“The goal was to transform this potential space into a fully designed home. One with a cohesive look that was both classic and contemporary, ”says co-founder Sean Juneja. Alex Caratachea, our main designer on the project, certainly had his work cut out for him. “The apartment was a dark drywall maze when we first walked in,” he says. “We knew it was important to maximize light and space in order to get the house in tip-top shape.” The first step was to choose a color palette that would hold the space together and create a clear transition between the rooms and hallways. Based on the customers’ fashion aesthetics – an elegantly subdued combination of mottled gray tones, wool knitwear and classic shapes – a scheme of subtle gray tones, metallics and color-blocked details was implemented throughout the hotel. Translucent and iridescent materials like lucite and gold leaf have been used to add richness and light to any space. Customers’ existing furniture looked mixed up with new carpets, lighting, and artwork, additional pieces that took the entire space to a whole new level. The real game changer? A series of built-ins that dramatically increase storage space while adding to the refined charm of the home. The end result is a home that is both contemporary and utterly timeless. It is perfectly tailored to the needs of modern city life and pays homage to the fabulous original details of the house.
Like the rest of the apartment, the living room also had to be fundamentally restructured. As it was originally, the room was dark, poorly laid out and there was a lack of storage space.
This area of the kitchen was an ordinary breakfast nook and made poor use of its space.
The master bedroom was small and cramped – it needed to be opened up, brightened up, and made the quiet escape customers wanted.
The nursery was monotonous and clumsy. Furniture was placed randomly and there was no real flow.
What was once a dark, confined space has been given a refined, open look through a calming palette of cool grays. The used pieces of the home owner (sofa, side chairs, dining set) were given modern accents, which gave the entire room an effortlessly timeless quality. Metallic accessories and Lucite side tables act as light catchers and give the underlit room the much-needed shimmer. Built-ins have been installed along the right wall to maximize storage capacity and display a range of art objects that help raise the space and guide the view across the room. (Paint color: Elephant’s Breath by Farrow & Ball.)
Color-blocked curtains in gray and ivory combine classic sensibility with modern aesthetics. The traditionally designed sofa has been upgraded with crocodile-embossed cushions from Ankasa.
The focal point of the living room, a stunning fireplace with classic fluting and a black marble stove, was complemented by an abstract work of art by Ethan Allen.
Geological materials like metal and stone have been incorporated into the living room’s decor scheme to create visual interest while maintaining a clean, sophisticated look. A silver bowl mixes here next to silver-plated agate coasters.
“It was important to us to find a balance between male and female elements,” says chief designer Alex Caratachea, quoting the customers’ classic, gender-neutral aesthetics. “We have combined warm materials such as wood with industrial elements and strict geometry.” Here, nickel lamps create a romantic moment on a bar cart from ABC Carpet & Home. An octagonal mirror from Restoration Hardware gives the room a touch of charm and reflects the light.
“We wanted the breakfast nook to look upscale but not too serious,” notes Caratachea. Here traditional upholstered seats are combined with an industrial marble table with a cast-iron base. A striped Roman linen shade from The Shade Store diffuses light and gives a relaxed tone. By using a slim table and an upholstered banquet, the designers were able to create a fully equipped seating area in a confined space.
“The master bedroom had to be relaxing, open and calm,” notes Caratachea. The gray-tinted palette from the rest of the house came with textured linens, lampshades, and a headboard upholstered in Robert Allen fabric. Bedside tables with Lucite tops allow storage by the bed without taking up the space.
For the customers it was important that the children’s room can “grow” next to their children. Therefore, emphasis was placed on storage and versatility. A heather gray rug and color relate to the rest of the home’s decor, while mid-century orange and atomic styles add a fun yet sophisticated feel to the room.
As “his and her” workspace, the designers wanted to ensure that the home office was as versatile and functional as possible. A custom desk was built to maximize usable work space, while built-in shelves and filing cabinets tuck everything away when not in use. The central part of the desk faces a window so that anyone who works can benefit from the energizing properties of natural light.
“The main entrance to the apartment was dead and dark,” says Caratachea. “It was just a boring box.” In order to bring the space to life without overwhelming it, a minimal scheme of metal and unusual geometry was chosen. The wallpaper – actually made by Walt Disney – combines the tonal and chromatic properties of the entire house while conveying a touch of pop art intrigue. A pendant from Moooi improved the overall look of the space, adding an extra focal point alongside a gold leaf mirror.