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neutral bedroom with glass lighting fixture and palm tree
This Generic NYC Apartment Gets a Glam Makeover

This Generic NYC Apartment Gets a Glam Makeover

  • By Megan Cahn
  • Photos by Sean Litchfield

From basic to modern.

Buying your first home is a big deal, a huge milestone worthy of celebration. It’s a time to make sure your much-deserved new space looks and feels just like you always imagined, no matter what shape it was in when you bought it. With this in mind, a young Manhattan couple turned to Homepolish interior designer Crystal Sinclair, after purchasing an outdated and dimly lit Greenwich Village apartment. Sinclair transformed the 1200-square-foot space into a bright and stylish oasis where the new homeowners can escape the city, cook and entertain friends—surrounded by gorgeous art.

Here’s how they renovated.

Find Ways to Create Light

In a city shaded with skyscrapers like Manhattan, the third floor might as well be the basement when it comes to light. So when Sinclair first saw this apartment, she knew she had to pull out all the stops to brighten it up. First, she replaced the parquet flooring with natural-colored wood. She then chose non-white paint shades, like cream and gray, for the walls. “White paint dulls the room and makes it feel smaller,” she explains. “If you use something that has a tint to it, it adds depth and makes it feel larger.” She used a gloss paint on the bedroom ceiling to reflect the light down. In the entryway, she painted the top half of the wall with gloss, and the bottom half in the same color, but matte. “It's a very subtle detail that helps the light bounce around,” she says. Finally, she used larger mirrors to open up the space and frosted glass bedroom doors that filter light out without being able to see in.


  • Dining Room
    Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Kitchen
  • Master Bedroom
    Master Bedroom
  • Master Bathroom
    Master Bathroom
  • Guest Bathroom
    Guest Bathroom

Add Dimension With Cozy Textures

Since the couple prefers black, white and gray over brighter hues, Sinclair chose to use different textures versus colors to add interest to the space. In the living room, you’ll find a linen sectional with felt and chunky woven pillows, next to leather chairs—all gray, but all different materials.

Invest in Art

One of the couple’s top priorities was to surround themselves with original art they loved. It took a lot of research and back and forth with Sinclair, but they ended up with a collection they adored with pieces from artists like Linda Colletta, Ariele Alasko, Carolina Walls, Laura Berger and Paul Kremer. The first piece of art that Sinclair’s clients bought for the home was the Karina Bania piece on the far right of the ledge in the living room. They loved the color scheme so much, they decided to use it as a reference point for the home’s color palette when they ventured beyond black and white. “It became a common thread—we would pull colors out of that and work them into the other rooms,” says Sinclair.

Don't Shy Away From a Gallery Wall

“[The client] loves gallery walls and we did one in the guest bedroom, but to break it up, we went with a ledge in the living room,” says Sinclair. When arranging art that is leaning against a wall, the designer says it’s more visually interesting if they overlap. “I’m a huge believer in layers, so we picked pieces that didn't have any details in the corners that we’d feel guilty covering up.”

Have Some Fun With Color

Sinclair uses chairs to add a bit of excitement to a room. “You need sofas to be functional, but chairs can be more fun,” she explains. “When they're small accent chairs you can go bold and finish off a room. Find a piece that ties everything together with a pop of color!”

Maximize the Space

The couple loves to cook and entertain, so the tiny original kitchen was just not going to cut it. They left all the rooms the original size, but knocked out the kitchen wall to open up the space — enough space for a 36 inch gas range, in fact. The apartment is very long, so they pushed the cabinets going out of the kitchen and into the dining room. “This carries the eyes out and makes the space flow.” To avoid the kitchen from feeling too stark and modern, Sinclair added a vintage rug found on Etsy, to bring in some softness to the room. 

Choose Where to Splurge 

The homeowners splurged on marble for the guest bathroom and the kitchen backsplash, but opted for a more affordable (and functional) quartz countertop. They also saved money on IKEA cabinets, again with a high gloss finish to bounce the light around. “I like to play with the budget and save on certain items and splurge on others,” says Sinclair. “That gives the home a little more depth than just going mid-price range for everything.”


The Perfect Score

Sinclair wanted the dining room to feel modern and warm at the same time, so they went with a table with weathered wood but a clean aesthetic. Finding the perfect chairs were more of a struggle. After some searching, Sinclair came across these from Article. “They are very structured but have a softness to them,” she says. 

Avoid Trends

The couple knew they wanted water-themed artwork in the bedroom, but Sinclair steered them away from anything too beachy. “It’s so trendy right now, I thought they might regret it later,” she says. “We compromised, [this photograph by Dinesh Boaz] is definitely water, but not an in-your-face beach scene.” Sinclair also opted out of the trends when it came to plants, choosing a banana palm over Instagram’s favorite fiddle leaf fig tree. “Fiddle leafs have been done to death and don't do well without a lot of light,” she explains. "The banana palm fits the room much better—it’s much more feminine, a little more sexy."

Juxtapose Looks

Sinclair’s clients loved the idea of something traditional with a twist, like this modern take on a crystal chandelier. Plus, it has a dark accent. “It adds the little contrast the room needs, and ties into the rest of the house,” she says.

Make it Flow

The black light fixtures and faucets are another detail Sinclair used to tie the home together from room-to-room. “They are funky, but luckily, they loved them as much as I do,” she says.