Marissa Bero transforms a chilly New York condo right into a welcoming house

While some may love the clean, modern lines and sleek surfaces of a modern new apartment, there are some things that these so-called “white box” spaces are often lacking: one, a sense of personality and two, plenty of storage space for books, objects, and all the other bells and whistles that the non-minimalist among us might appreciate.

That was the theme presented to designer Marissa Bero when she signed up for a design-loving couple to renovate an apartment on Fulton Street in Manhattan. While the duo initially used Bero to renovate their kitchen, it quickly became apparent that the build quality apartment did not match their lifestyle – which includes a love of books, music, travel and entertainment.

“Their biggest problem was not having enough storage space for the things that were important to them,” says Bero. Instead of starting with the kitchen, “the first task was to design a built-in bookcase,” explains the designer. The resulting full-walled shelving system (inspired by one in Soho House) set the tone for the rest of the house: collected yet elegant, versatile yet neat, and somewhere between modern and traditional.

“The shelves became a fun way to display your collections.”

“It’s an interesting relationship because one of the homeowners is more traditional and the other is more modern,” explains Bero. “They wanted to hire a designer to help them bring those two styles together – and that’s my MO. I love an eclectic mix.”

Merging these two styles became the starting point for Bero to create a design that transformed the white box into an inviting, personal home. That’s how she did it.

Living area

Genevieve Garruppo

While the wall-to-wall shelf was originally conceived as a method of coping with the lack of storage space in the apartment, it has become a design statement in its own right. “It was a fun way to display a lot of their collectibles,” says Bero. The couple are avid travelers and have many “tchotchkes all over the world,” explains the designer. In addition to an extensive book collection, a selection of records and a mixture of art, these objects are of great importance here.

Bero designed a custom area for the space to allow for plenty of flexible seating so that the space is just as comfortable for a home full of guests as it is for the couple and their dogs.

Dining area

Genevieve Garruppo

Customers who enter a project with a baby grand piano play an important role in a not very large apartment. But instead of tucking the instrument away, Bero decided to make it a focal point. “It was fun figuring out how to use the piano to create a defined dining area,” she says. It also takes getting used to outdoors, especially at dinner parties.


Genevieve Garruppo

The couple’s traditional-modern balance can best be shown in the kitchen, where counters and a backsplash of classic Carrara marble stand alongside sleek white cabinets. In order to arouse visual interest in addition to the minimal hardware, Bero has wrapped a number of shelves in an architectural mesh. Floating marble shelves also maintain the balance between classic and modern.


Genevieve Garruppo

In the bedroom, Bero’s “eclectic mix” really comes to life. “They already had a few pieces that they wanted to fit in, and then the wallpaper and accents really bring it all together,” says the designer. She converted certain parts (the armchair was once in the living room) and lit others, like the Queen Elizabeth artwork above the bed. The subtle wallpaper offers texture without competing with the mix.

Guest room

Genevieve Garruppo

In the guest room, Bero concentrated on establishing luxury in a small space. “It’s not big, but it has all the bells and whistles,” she says of the room: “The luxurious surfaces, custom-made curtains and wallpapers, the beautiful accessories – I think it feels very special and unique and like a place that I would have.” want to spend time as a guest. ”

To maximize space, she swapped bedside tables for two floating shelves, each with slim lamps, and used a campaign-style chest as a console and dresser combo. In a room this size, she says, “It’s important that every piece counts.”

Genevieve Garruppo

Genevieve Garruppo

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Hadley Keller is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in design, interiors, and culture.

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