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The Biggest Trick To Revamp An Old Space

We sat down with our client, Sofia, 34, to explore her design process while redoing her living room. Sofia, an abstract painter, lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Vinegar Hill, an older part of DUMBO in Brooklyn.

Her apartment has traditional wall moldings, but she sought a more modern look, using angular, clean-lined contemporary furniture. Having just moved to Brooklyn from Miami, Sofia indulged in a bit of nostalgia when it came to the drapes: choosing Mikayo Saito’s leafy, large-scale Tropicalia pattern.

How would you describe the style and feel of your living room?

Contemporary style with a serene feel. It’s tough to master that delicate balance. So often, I will venture into a contemporary space that feels empty and cold.

How did you achieve the decor balance of modern and comfortable?

By varying different hues of grey and adding in large-scale prints in both the wall art and rug. The biggest factor though? Once I put up my custom drapes, it felt like a home.

Speaking of which, why did you go with the “Tropicalia” drape print?

I love the way the Tropicalia print brings in a hint of Miami, which is where I am originally from. Up close, the drapes with its large leaves didn’t seem like it would fit my contemporary aesthetic, but once they were in the space, they looked elegant-- like they always belonged there.

Why did you end up moving from Miami to Brooklyn and has that influenced your design perspective?

For the struggle! I am a painter and was lucky to have been born and raised in a tropical place, such as Miami, but needed to get my hands dirty and experience the concrete jungle. My whole style and outlook has changed since moving to DUMBO. I feel like in recent years, I have overcome a creative roadblock.

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And your favorite element in this room?

The Angle coffee table. Unlike so many heavy, modern glass-top coffee tables, this one is delicate-looking and elegant.

What was your biggest challenge in decorating your living room?

Working with the traditional wall molding and older design elements of the apartment. I knew I wanted a modern-looking space and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to incorporate the contemporary furniture that I envisioned since it’s a traditionally-designed apartment.

How did you solve your design challenge?

By choosing a monochromatic color scheme, particularly in gray, I was able to make even the traditional wall moldings feel updated. Using a monochromatic color scheme tricks the eye into seeing a solid color wash and detracts from the traditional architectural elements of the room. Once I put in the gray sofa, the Angle coffee table, and chairs, it felt like an entirely new space.

Did you enjoy the design process?

I did! I think the biggest contributor to my success was speaking with an Indigo2Ash design professional over the phone before I finalized everything. I was nervous about the look all coming together, but I was given thorough, personalized style advice that ultimately made me feel confident about my design decisions.

Do you have any advice for people doing a DIY living room?

I am a big advocate for monochromatic decor, especially if you want to make an older space feel like new. Start with a single color in mind and then incorporate different shades of that color throughout the furniture, drapes, and rug. It always looks clean and sophisticated in the end.

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