The Insider: Opening and Overhauling a Cramped Concord Village Studio

The owner of this 460-square-foot Concord Village studio, a busy media exec who travels frequently, contacted Julia Mack, a Brooklyn-based interior designer, for one simple reason: she wanted to have friends and international colleagues over, but was too embarrassed by the mess.

The yellow bathroom, original to the 1960s low-rise brick building, was past due for an overhaul. While the bathroom was being renovated, by local contractor Donald Mira, Mack and her client agreed on a design concept for the living room and sleeping area. The first step: removing two tall, deep bookcases the homeowner had been using as room dividers.

“We loved the openness, and we gained a tremendous amount of space, but still wanted to create a break between the living room and bedroom,” Mack said. Her solution was a wall of metal beads from Shimmerscreen, which runs along a ceiling-mounted track. “Plus, it adds a bit of sparkle and a dynamic quality to an otherwise unexceptional space.”

The client was committed to a gray wall color Mack felt was too dark and “ate up the little natural light there was,” so she brought in Emily Billington of Haypenny Design, a decorative painter, to sponge-paint a custom ombre wall finish that gradually lightens as it rises to the ceiling.

Together, designer and client selected appropriately proportioned furnishings that would not overwhelm the small apartment.

“Even in a stodgy old building that’s uninspiring and lacking in detail,” said Mack, “there are creative ways to pull space together and make it feel fresh.”

Two shots from before the fix-up:

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

And then afterward:

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

The new sofa, hanging storage and coffee table all came from Bo Concept, the funky purple chair from Ligne Roset, and the shag rug from G.T. Design.

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

The client bought the fluffy feathered light fixture by Vita Design on one of her trips to France and carried it home in a flat-pack. Bedding and pillows are from West Elm.

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

Vertical wall-hung storage cabinets and a media cabinet for under the TV, from the Swiss company USM, were a splurge.

Concord Village Downtown Brooklyn -- Studio Apartment Renovation

Mack chose 1’x2′ ceramic tiles in a soft white from Porcelanosa for the outer and inner walls of the tub enclosure; they continue behind the sink and toilet. Small floor tiles in dark charcoal, laid in a herringbone pattern, come from the same source. Above an IKEA vanity with fixtures from AF Supply, an inlaid shell mirror from ABC Carpet “ties it all together,” the designer said.

The Insider is Brownstoner’s in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. The stories are original to Brownstoner; the photos may have been published before. Got a project to propose for The Insider? Please contact Cara at caramia447 at gmail dot com.

[Photos 1, 4, 6, 7, 9: Wes Tarca; 2, 3, 5, 8: Julia Mack]

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