See How a Sterile, New Apartment Was Transformed Into a Soothing Oasis
While brand-new apartment buildings are constantly popping up in major cities across the United States, this was one of the first of its kind in Bronxville, New York. Many people in the city were intrigued by its modern design, the start-from-scratch spaces, as well the amenities it had to offer, including parking and a gym. That's why the sister design duo behind Hackett Interiors, Erin and Meghan Hackett, were not surprised when a couple moving into one of these new apartments reached out seeking their expertise and guidance.
The Hackett sisters were tasked with helping turn one of the very basic two-bedrooms into a serene oasis where a couple embarking on their golden years could put their feet up and relax at the end of the day.
Previously, the couple lived in a one-bedroom in a historic building without great amenities, so they were excited to move into a place with so much to offer. Their old home had not been updated in years and the style was so different than their new building, so they decided to start fresh with a completely clean slate. They didn't bring much of anything with them, splurging on new couches, tables, chairs and more. Since no one had lived in the apartment beforehand and the couple decided to get all new things, the Hacketts had their hands in all the design decisions from the flooring to the kitchen materials to the furniture, from day one.
Here, Meghan and Erin Hackett walk us through their process.
Let There Be Light
The apartment, which is on the top floor of the building, has large windows and Southern exposure. The couple decided to really lean into the setting and create a space that feels light, tranquil, and serene. They wanted to be able to gaze across the apartment when they walked in without anything being too jarring, so they made sure none of the furniture was too cold or harsh. "[The wife] works a lot," says Meghan. "So she wanted a place where she could open the door every day when she gets home and just feel awe."
Go for Hints of Color
The house is full of variations of gray in different shades and textures, but as you look closer you'll see pops of color subtlety spread throughout the space. "In the living room, it's all about how the grays come together as one," says Erin. "But we also threw some lilac and hints of lavender in there and played with metallics." They went with even richer hues on the island in the kitchen and the built-in unit in the dining room, yet never strayed too far from the muted color palette. "We like to add color in smaller concentrated areas to add dimension to a room," says Erin. "But since the home is one open cohesive space, we always went back to the scheme we created in the living room for reference. The colors are a slight departure, but they still complement each other and have a light feel."
The couple didn't want the kitchen to look too traditional, so they originally wanted a glass backsplash. Meghan and Erin thought that they would eventually get sick of it, and informed their clients that glass colors often look very different in real life than in samples. In the end, they went with a classic subway tile, but chose an elongated version to make the space feel more modern. They bought the kitchen stools from CB2, then reupholstered them. The sisters often pick less expensive items and customize them with fabric. "Stools are something you are going to use every day multiple times a day, so you really want to love them," says Meghan. "But they will also get beat up. These are very comfy and since the legs are stainless metal rather than wood, you don't have to worry about them chipping."
Embrace a Have-to-Have Moment
"We went with the couple to a showroom in New York City and the chandelier immediately caught the husband's eye," says Meghan. "It just sort of clicked and was a have-to-have moment." The designers loved it, too. "Since the apartment, with the exception of the master bedroom and the den, is open-concept, we wanted something that made a statement but was also something you wouldn't ever get tired of looking at because you have to see it all day long," says Erin. "It also went well with the glass pendants we had already selected over the kitchen island." When they spotted the blush dining room chairs at a different showroom, it was another have-to-have moment they immediately jumped on. Sometimes you just have to trust your first instincts.
Dress Every Window
Since they are on the top floor, the clients didn't feel the need for window treatments. But the sisters convinced them they are a must. "You should always dress a window," says Meghan. "It offers balance and finishes off a space—a room does not feel complete without them." In the living room, they decided to keep it "super simple, soft and pretty" with long, sheer white curtains. In the master bath, they went with plantation shutters. "They are so beautiful on a large scale window and are obviously great for functionality purposes," says Erin. "They let so much light in and can be shut for privacy."
Always Be Ready for a Party
The couple has family that lives close by, so they wanted to make sure their home was set-up to easily host big groups. "It is a really inviting space," says Meghan. "The couple has been overwhelmed with how well the space flows and how they are able to entertain guests and family." The console table in the living room is one of the Hacketts' favorite pieces. "We love the shagreen texture and how it balances out the dark gray sofa," says Erin. "But it's also great for functionality purposes—when hosting parties, they can pull out the ottomans underneath it and easily seat 10 people in the living room." The custom coffee table with cushioned leather, allows their guests to put their feet up.
Accessorize with Moss
"We like to install projects and leave things, like the moss on the dining room table, that [the clients] can easily maintain," says Erin. They bought treated moss and the bowl separately, then brought them to a local florist who planted it and made the hilly effect. "We love moss—the green is so pretty and vibrant!" adds Meghan. "It's a subtle and low-maintenance way to introduce color that makes a huge impact."
The designers also upped the impact without spending a ton by bringing a few affordable art pieces into each room. "We were at the end of our budget and everything had come together so beautifully already, so we just bought a few things that continued that palette." They chose the pieces in the dining and living room because they wanted them to seamlessly fit into the room and not disrupt the eye with any bright colors. They recommend looking for affordable art at places like Serena & Lily, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel.
Choose Cream Over Crisp
"The bedroom was the most important place to have a soothing palette," says Erin. Like in the living room, they went with shades of gray, metallics and sheer window treatments. "We wanted to add a little texture, but still keep the room very serene," she said. They made sure to select furniture that wasn't super bulky. They used some dark grays, which can feel heavy, but the light from the windows and the reflection from the mirrors balance them out. They chose Benjamin Moore 'vanilla milkshake,' a blend of gray with a cream undertone, for the walls. "It's super soft and soothing on the eye," says Meghan. "The walls should be a softer tone to let the patterns on curtains and upholstery and textures in pillows show. We would hate for anything to ever compete with the wall color."
Go Big in the Powder Room
The designers love to give personality to a powder room. "As our mom says, it's the only room in" the house where your guests are alone," says Erin. Why not have some fun? Though their clients were a little apprehensive at first, they were so happy they trusted them and went with the bold wallpaper. "The tones in the paper complement the entire apartment," says Meghan. "It wasn't an extreme departure, but it added a funkier layer. We also went with a cool light fixture and a simple lacquered black mirror. Without using too much color, we were able to add a lot of pattern and texture, and make a huge impact on the space."