By Shani Silver

Published on September 17, 2015

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Photography by EMILY SIDOTI

Lea Badro, of Lea Badro Design Studio recently completed a Hell’s Kitchen bachelor pad in NYC full of color, creativity, and city-smart sophistication. Suddenly we expect a lot from a guy’s apartment!

HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT?

The client is a friend of a friend, who reached out to me as he was looking to re-design his apartment and knew that I would be perfect since I had all the experience, but could give him the attention that he wanted from a small firm.

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HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY PREPARE FOR A PROJECT LIKE THIS?

I first try to get an idea of what the client is looking for, in terms of functionality, budget, timeline, and aesthetic. The client wanted a modern apartment that didn’t look too over the top, and still had a masculine vibe. Next, I ran some inspiration images as well as schematic furniture layouts by him, and once those were approved, I started on finding the furniture that worked within the dimensions I had drawn on plan.

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WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO READERS WHO ARE STARTING A PROJECT LIKE THIS WITHOUT A DESIGNER?

I would definitely say to start a sort of mood board, so that your goals and inspirations are easily accessible. It’s very easy to fall in love with a side chair, purchase it, and realize that your super modern stainless steel chair doesn’t relate to your shabby chic coffee table. I would also advise to purchase items one at a time. If you don’t have a designer to draw out furniture plans for you, buy your big ticket items first – like your sofa – and once it is in your apartment, you’ll be able to better gage how much more furniture you can fit in the room. Maybe now you realize that the 36″ x 36″ coffee table might not be such a great idea after all, and you might need something smaller to allow for good circulation. Or maybe you notice that two side chairs might not fit, you just need one. It might take more time, but it will definitely save you money and extra effort in the future!

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THIS PROJECT?

The client and I saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things – the only item he gave me a hard time over was the pair of blue side chairs by the sofa which he thought he could do without, but that I really fought for, so he agreed to them in the end, and now tells me he is so happy that I persuaded him to buy them. It’s still something we laugh about till this day. Every time we disagree on something, I always say ‘Remember when you loved the blue side chairs that you thought you didn’t want?’. A lot of times, people can’t see the bigger picture, or think that what they had before was fine. The reason you hire a designer is because they are thinking three steps ahead, understand how you live, and what you will need in the future. Sometimes small things like a side chair or some pillows is what it takes to really tie the entire room together, and it looks completely different without them.

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WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

I was worried the sofa was too large to fit in the elevator, so I had the company do a free measurement to guarantee it. It ended up just barely making it! Phew! And another one was that there was no lighting in the Dining Area. There was no logical place to put a table or floor lamp, so a lot of research went into finding a light fixture that could plug in (since it was a rental, we could not hard wire any fixtures) and that the client liked (THAT was the tough part).

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WHAT DOES YOUR CLIENT LOVE MOST ABOUT THE FINISHED PRODUCT?

The client had never had a rug before in his home, and thought that it was not necessary. It was only once it was installed that he saw how much of a difference a rug makes, and now it is one of his favorite elements in his entire home. From defining the living room from the dining area, to adding an extra layer of softness, a rug always makes such a difference in any space

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ARE THERE DESIGN ELEMENTS FROM THIS PROJECT THAT OUR READERS COULD TRY IN THEIR OWN HOMES?

I think a bar cart always elevates a space – and putting attention in the details transforms a cart that carries your alcohol to a statement piece. I found some old leather-bound books on cocktails and liquor, some great crystal bar glasses and decanters, an expensive candle, and some fun bar gadgets. Everyone who sees it loves it, and it’s so easy to make it your own. In the same vein, putting thought into your accessories throughout the home always makes it a lot more personalized.