There are some people in the world who would never be able to envision turning a loft designed for the ultimate bachelor, complete with an Ikea- style kitchen, into an ultraglam yet family-friendly oasis. That was not the case, however, with a young Manhattan couple who purchased a penthouse near Union Square. “We believed that the benefits of being the only unit on the floor and the multitude of windows could allow the space to be transformed into a family home with a loft-like feel,” says the wife. “With that said, finding a great designer and architect that shared our vision was critical in realizing the transformation.” So, the couple turned to interior designer Nicole Fuller and architectural designer Alma Hadrovic, along with builder Martin Mora. “They just thought it was something they could grow into essentially,” says Fuller of the owners. “We started from the ground up, completely ripping out everything including the windows. It was brought down to studs.”
The couple gave Fuller and Hadrovic the most basic guidance: “They said, ‘We love color and we trust you,’ ” explains Fuller. “So, Alma and I just went with it. I don’t think there’s one idea that they rejected.” Not that there wasn’t an occasional hesitancy on the homeowners’ end. Vintage blue chairs, chartreuse silk wallpaper in the entry and a purple couch against a purple rug— all grounded with black accents—create a dramatic impression, with the black giving the colorful apartment a sense of focus. “The black was a little tough to convince them of in the beginning,” says Fuller. “But I’m such a huge fan of the color. I think it brings a European elegance to the space.” The wife concedes that they were slightly wary of the idea initially. “We were a little hesitant in using black as a focal point,” she admits. “However, Nicole walked us through her vision, and we took a leap of faith.” Now, she and her husband are, as Fuller describes their feelings, “madly in love with it.”
Fuller also went for full-on drama in the master bathroom with a veiny marble throughout—and the homeowners jumped on board. “I had a lot of fun,” Fuller says. “To try and tell a client that not only do I want to put a marble like that all over, but also cut the slab that they just paid a fortune for and chevron the stone into a book-match pattern can be difficult. To have them say ‘okay’ was heaven.”
But it wasn’t creating a dynamic main living space or glamorous master bathroom that was Fuller’s jumping- off point. It was the baby’s room—more specifically, a swatch of fabric with a vintage African Congo print that she purchased. “I showed them the fabric and told them, ‘This is how we’re going to start the house, with the baby’s room,’ ” says Fuller. “They fell in love and said, ‘We have no idea what you’re talking about, but go for it.’ ” So the designer did exactly that, creating a sophisticated room with deep cobalt walls and neutral furniture that any New York City child could easily grow into. “I don’t do kiddie rooms,” says Fuller, “but we are in New York. These are sophisticated kids. You can still get all the elements of a baby in the right toys but still make the room elegant. New York City kids are educated. They’re going to The Met. They’re learning languages. They are taking karate.”
The nursery wasn’t the only room designed to fit a city lifestyle. Fuller carefully planned the kitchen and dining areas around the homeowners’ personalities and passions. “They are very cool,” she says. “They love to entertain, and she is an amazing cook. They throw dinner parties all the time.” To suit this type of atmosphere, Fuller placed a vintage table alongside the dining area so that the wife can use it as a buffet for cocktails and food. She also incorporated a wine “wall” that wraps around the doorway of the great room. “The husband wanted to figure out how we could do a unique wine cellar,” says Fuller. “But instead of making it a closet, we designed it around the space.” She then brought in Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars to realize her vision—something simultaneously beautiful but also functional, serving as the crowning touch to a great room geared toward easy entertaining.
“Our favorite aspect is the use of space,” says the wife. “Through Nicole and Alma’s careful planning, we were able to maintain a very spacious great room perfect for entertaining, while at the same time creating spaces that function well as a family home. The results exceeded our expectations.”