By Alyssa Clough

Published on July 20, 2016

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Photography by none

produced by   ALYSSA CLOUGH
photography by  DAVID A. LAND

Transforming an almost 500 square foot space into a functional—and still stylish—home is a feat to be reckoned with. But that is exactly what Nicole Gibbons, Interior Designer and blogger, did with this Morningside Heights model apartment. Spoiler alert: Creating an aesthetic and designing an apartment for a fictional client is still really, really fun. Keep reading for tips on how to make your small space feel large and luxurious.

Follow along with Nicole’s adventures in interior design on her blog and on Snapchat at @nicolegotstyle!

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

That’s not a fiddle, it’s a banana leaf plant!

SOFA Duralee  RUG serena and lily  COFFEE TABLE  plexicraft   BISTRO TABLE CB2  CHAIRS Robert allen in a Diane Von Furstenberg for Kravet Fabric

HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT?

The project was actually a model apartment. I was a hired by a development team called The Brodsky Organization to design the models for their newest residential building, Enclave at the Cathedral.

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

ARTWORK (above sofa) Zoe Bios Creative, Minted & Artfully walls

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE OVERALL COLOR PALETTE?

I like using light bright colors in a small space to make it feel open, so I chose colors that felt light and airy such as the pale walls and soft aqua sofa. An age-old trick I employed here was the use of mirrored front credenza because mirrors always help to open up a room and make it appear larger. Also, if you’re decorating a small space it’s good to use pieces that don’t take up too much visual space. Here I used an acrylic coffee table which allows for a full-sized coffee table that doesn’t overwhelm the room. You can see straight through it so the flow is continuous and it doesn’t stop the eye from moving because it doesn’t take up any visual space. Another great tip is to use pieces that can serve double duty. I incorporated a small bistro table with two chairs that can double as dining or a desk and the chairs can also easily move around the sofa to provide extra seating for guests.

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE PIECE IN THE HOME?

I’m a sucker for a good tufted sofa. This one is from Duralee! The headboard and lamps in the sleeping area are also strong statement pieces in a fairly neutral space.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE AESTHETIC OF THE COMPLETED APARTMENT?

The apartment is feminine with a fashion-forward sensibility and feels clean and calm with just the right punch of color to give it some personality.

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WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS DESIGN PROJECT?

I think the way that I incorporated color into the space, making it feel vibrant and bright even though the overall space is pretty neutral. Through artwork, accessories, and one or two statement pieces, the colors really helps to make the space come alive.

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

These stunning arrangements are by Days of May Florals!

CREDENZA (above sofa) Mitchell Gold Bob Williams LAMP arteriors ARTWORK Zoe Bios Creative

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE(S) YOU RAN INTO WITH THIS PROJECT?

The space was definitely limited! The clients wanted me to use full-sized furniture and illustrate the fact that you can really create a beautiful, livable home in this small space. So creating a flow and incorporating all of the key furniture pieces you need to turn this into a home while still keeping the space feeling open and airy was definitely a challenge with the amount of square footage I had to work with.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THIS DESIGN PROCESS?

Well, installing the furniture is always the most rewarding part. I love seeing my vision come together in the end!

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WHAT DID THE OWNER OF THE APARTMENT EXPRESS SHE WANTED TO SEE WITH THE REDESIGN?

Because I was hired to design five different model apartments I had a lot of creative freedom, but was asked to give each space its own personality. This was the smallest apartment of the group. It’s an alcove studio that’s 484 square feet, and since the building is so close to the Columbia [University] community, I imagined that a sophisticated foreign student might live here and had a lot of fun designing for this fictitious personality who is a super stylish young woman from Europe who is attending Columbia.

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

BED custom in a robert allen fabric BEDSIDE TABLES made goods RUGrestoration hardware BEDDING Pottery Barn LAMPS Aerin for Visual comfort via Circa Lighting

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE OVERALL COLOR PALETTE?

Since it’s a model apartment I wanted to keep the foundation of the space neutral. The walls are Barely There by Benjamin Moore and in the bedroom I custom colored a wallpaper from Flavor Paper that has a graphic, small scale pattern in shades of taupe and beige. Then I layered on the blues, mixing various shades of aqua and teal with neutrals.

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Photography by DAVID A. LAND

STOOLS vintage covered in a kravet fabric CONSOLE made goods LAMP Rejuvenation

ANY TIPS TO MIXING METALLICS?

Don’t follow any rules! I never subscribe to the rule that you can’t mix metallics. I am personally drawn to warmer metals such as brass so you see more of that in the space but there are some silver and mirrored pieces in there as well and it all works together harmoniously. I think the key is not to mix too many different metals —otherwise it might start to feel uncoordinated.