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Tiled furniture, Willow.

Five weeks is enough time to knit an adult-size sweater or patiently await the arrival of a newly ordered coffee table. Five weeks is not enough time to renovate a 1,650-square-foot, loft-style apartment…or so we thought. When Brooklyn-based French designer Margaux Lafond met a young couple living in the the borough’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, they revealed they had a nonnegotiable deadline: the birth of their first child. Lafond was up for working down to the wire—er, due date. 

“The building approval process for construction was fairly lengthy, especially during COVID, so we had to be supersmart with the scope of work,” she says. If given all the time in the world, the designer—who previously worked with Gilles et Boissier, Rafael de Cardenas, and ASH NYC before stepping out on her own in 2020—would have put in new flooring, added a drop ceiling, ripped out the granite kitchen countertops, and so much more. Instead she made small, game-changing tweaks to the space to make it sophisticated and baby-ready. 

Stain Sad Parquet Floors

The bedroom, before.
Charlotte Perriand stool, Speaklow.

The biggest eyesores in the apartment were the orangey, finger-block parquet floors, but given replacing them would have required a lengthy approval process from the building, Lafond had to keep them. As a quick fix, she decided to stain them black. “In addition to modernizing that type of parquet, it helped ground and unify the space,” she says. The process took around a week: After the color is applied, a protective polyurethane varnish goes on top, requiring a few days of drying time. 

Think Out of the Drop Ceiling Box

The living area, before.
Wood chair, Minjae Kim; Vintage white chair, Pierre Guariche; White dot vessel, Heyjado Pottery from Dear Rivington; Pillows, Speaklow; Wire sculpture, Max Simon.

The ceiling’s impenetrable concrete surface meant Lafond couldn’t add any new electrical inside of it, and there was no time to add a faux ceiling to disguise unsightly wires. The airy lanterns she bought for the open living area now hang from white tubes that house all the cords. 

Minimize Your Brushstrokes

The nursery, before.
Vintage blanket, John Derian.

Painting walls is one of those sneaky tasks that always takes way longer than you think it will. To save time and money while also creating a more cocoon-like feel in the industrial space, Lafond decided to paint only three-quarters of the walls a warm gray, while leaving the top section and ceiling stark white. “It also helped smooth the transitions between rooms and adjust the scale of the space into something more cozy and familiar,” she explains. 

Cut a Rug

Millwork, Work at Hand; Rug, Nordic Knots; Custom floor pillow, Stitchroom.

On average, it takes 14 to 16 weeks to fabricate a custom rug overseas and ship it—and that’s in pre-pandemic times. This was January 2021, so most manufacturers had shut down their operations. Lafond found an in-stock option from Nordic Knots for the empty space–turned–play area behind the living room sofa and tasked someone locally with refinishing the edges to create its wavy bespoke shape. “The clients wanted a supercasual space to play with the baby, practice yoga, or just lounge,” says the designer. The toy storage bench underneath the window was milled by fabricators in the nearby Navy Yard area, meaning delays were a nonissue.

Spray and Stain an Orangey Kitchen Away

The kitchen, before.

The only spot where Lafond did change up the flooring was in the galley kitchen—and she made it the same stained parquet that runs throughout the rest of the home. Everything else got a surface-level update, including the cabinets, which were disassembled and spray-painted off-site. “The millworker has the space to let everything dry,” she notes. She also swapped out the faucet, lighting, and hardware, brightening up the entire space, which stills boasts the same granite counters (although you barely notice them now). 

Don’t Rock the Boat—Float

Bed cover, John Derian; Lamp, Joe Colombo from The Fetish Priest.
Desk chair, Lichen.

To preserve floor space, Lafond mounted as many pieces of furniture as possible, from the burl-wood headboard in the primary bedroom to the floating desk. “The apartment is really big, but it wasn’t very practical,” she says. The designer and her team still had to be cognizant of the hours they decided to go to the loft, “because all their neighbors were working from home,” she says. Even while navigating everyone else’s 9-to-5, she finished in the nick of time.