The Insider: Open-Plan Dumbo Loft Gets Organized With Breezy Charm and Urban Glam


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With nearly 3,500 square feet to play with, Bella Mancini of Bella Mancini Design had some decisions to make. “It’s wonderful to have that much space, but how are you going to use it?” asked the Manhattan-based designer, who established her interior design firm two decades ago. “How are you going to make each area meaningful? There’s nothing I dislike more than rooms that go completely unused.”

The four-bedroom loft her clients had just bought, in a former industrial building with 13-foot ceilings, had an abundance of built-in character: natural wood columns, exposed brick walls and banks of floor-to-ceiling windows at one end. The white oak floors and brand new developer’s kitchen were high-end and attractive, as were the 3.5 baths. Mancini’s job was all about furnishings, including custom millwork, new lighting, paint, wallpaper and soft furnishings.

Mancini let her clients’ lifestyle dictate the placement of furnishings. The homeowners have two preteen daughters; he works at home, while she has a job with “crazy hours” and wanted a space that felt serene at the end of the day. Another consideration was their habit of frequent entertaining.

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These factors led to the creation of two dining areas — a more casual one near the extraordinary windows (top photo), with an Eero Saarinen tulip table, wicker chairs and a custom banquette that morphs into a desk, and a second, slightly more formal dining set-up at the other end of the space.

In between are the open kitchen and living area, with an inviting pink sofa and comfy vintage chairs. “It’s easy, free-flowing space,” Mancini said. When her clients have people over, “It’s ‘pick a seat,’ instead of ‘let’s all move into the dining room.'”

In terms of overall look and feel, said the designer, “I’m from California and always trying to make New York style more breezy and relaxed.” Her clients, who are British and have an English country-style home in the Hamptons which Mancini also designed, “don’t mind being a little dressy in the city, so we have some glamorous and sparkly touches.”


The sleek open kitchen is immediately visible upon entering the loft. The dropped ceiling over the kitchen, painted Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe, conceals wiring.

Three glass globe pendants from Louis Poulsen hang above the island.


A vintage Scandinavian piece anchors the foyer right off the elevator.


The custom banquette becomes a desk at one end, where the husband works during the day. It’s also painted Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe, a dark gray used in several places in the loft.


The sophisticated, atypical color palette in the living area includes a pink Chesterfield sofa and vintage armchairs of ochre and gray.

The two coffee tables were inexpensive finds from Jayson Home.


Pink grasscloth wall covering defines the dining area.

Chrome Breuer chairs from Knoll, upholstered in hard-wearing mohair with kids in mind, surround a wood table from the Danish Design Store.

The credenza was designed by Mancini and custom-made.


The powder room got a “facelift,” said Mancini, including Ellie Cashman floral wallpaper, a light fixture from Apparatus and vanity painted Farrow & Ball’s Dead Salmon.



A daughter’s room is distinguished by tie-dyed wallpaper from Donghia and a canopy bed.

The desk and bookshelves under the windows were designed by Mancini and custom-built.




Nightstands from Lawson Fenning, a whimsical side table from Artemest and a chaise lounge from Gubi are among the carefully considered furnishings in the master bedroom.

Italian garment-dyed linens are Society Limonata from ABC Carpet & Home.


[Photos © Brittany Ambridge/OTTO]

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning.

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