Where others saw gloom—red brick walls, heavy ceiling beams, and cherrywood everywhere—all interior designer Tina Rich saw in this SoHo loft was light. The opportunity for it, anyway. Her client’s two-bedroom required a gut renovation from the ground up—the previous ’90s reno felt straight out of a dated sitcom, and the tiny guest bedroom needed opening up—so she promptly replaced the somber floors with blond oak hardwood and the black lacquered kitchen with pale gray marble.
Now delicate ceramics from Karen Tinney, Eny Lee Parker, and Michelle Quan line the newly installed shelves; greige travertine tables anchor every room; and sheer curtains appear to float on ivory-painted walls. Rich wanted the space to be relaxed and peaceful, so a neutral palette was key. The sole pops of color: a few dusty pink and sage linen pillows and a cheery rose rug that almost never was. “We really fell in love with it, but when we went to purchase it, it was gone,” remembers the designer. “We were both devastated and couldn’t find anything else that we loved as much.” A month later, they found that very rug being resold by the person who bought it: “It was design fate!” With a lot of trust and some imagination, they created a bright space that’s airy without being too minimalist. Here’s how you can do the same:
Break Up Dark Features
While Rich liked the original brick in the apartment, it felt overwhelming—in the open kitchen and living room, it covered one wall end to end. So much of the material would have made the space feel too industrial. Plus, the designer envisioned open shelves in the existing window insets filled with dinnerware, accessories, and ceramics, and a lighter backdrop would showcase them better. “This was something I felt really strongly about from the beginning, and it took some major convincing to get the client on board,” she remembers. The client understandably wanted to preserve as much of the brick as possible. In the end, though, she trusted Rich’s vision. The designer ran the marble countertop up the walls to create two airy displays.
Dream Up On-Demand Privacy
In the guest bedroom, the client wanted to incorporate a large metal partition to keep the space feeling open, but Rich wished to ensure the bedroom still had privacy and would function for guests. Together, they opted for an olive velvet fabric to offset the apartment’s abundance of brick and metal details. But Rich didn’t stop there. She did the same thing in the master bathroom, where a floor-to-ceiling window offers a peek from the bathtub to the bedroom’s reading nook. Both spaces now offer privacy or openness as needed.
Give It a Lift
“Having things off the ground adds an unexpected design element and draws your eye to different planes of the space,” explains the designer. In the master bedroom, she designed custom oak-and-leather nightstands, which hover on each side of the bed, and opted for Workstead pendants in lieu of table lamps. Across the room, a long, curved sconce floats above a Douglas and Bec chair. With a new airy flair, the darkness has lifted from this loft.
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