20 New York Designers Share Their Favorite Apartments

Asking an interior designer to single out a favorite project may be akin to demanding that a parent choose a favorite child — but in the spirit of nosiness (and a little good-natured curiosity), that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Should your apartment be in need of a makeover (or should your soul be longing for some interior eye candy), we asked 20 of New York's top designers to share details about their all-time favorite and most memorable projects to date. And because our home could use a few practical pointers now and again, they've offered quick and easy design tips anyone can emulate (and any budget can afford). Time to transform that drab walk-up into the Architectural Digest spread you've always dreamed of.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Glynn.
Who: Blair Harris
Where: Greenwich Village

“This is my own living room, which is located in an apartment that my husband and I have lived in for six amazing years. I love living with neutrals and went for a subdued palette overall, adding interest and color with a mixture of textures, art, and objects I’ve collected over the years. While many of the spaces I design reflect a collaboration between the client and myself, this one is just us.”

Tip: “Collect art and other meaningful decorative objects gradually, and only buy what you love. Our apartment is a constant work in progress, as I’m always adding to a collection of pieces we adore.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Rikki Snyder.
Who: Amanda Gorski, Gimme Shelter Designs
Where: Chelsea

“My clients are big travelers who have a collection of furnishings, art, pottery, and books from all over the world. It was thrilling to be able to have so many incredible pieces at my disposal for the design of their home — and that’s part of the reason it’s my favorite to date. I love walking into someone’s space and seeing their stories and personalities on display. It’s a goal of mine to bring that out in every space I design.”

Tip: “When working with bold colors and prints, be sure to find a common thread — whether it’s a pattern or an accent shade — that will help tie everything together seamlessly.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Victor Harshbarger.
Who: Katrina Hernandez, Hernandez Greene
Where: Central Park West

“This bedroom is located in a prewar building overlooking the park and features strong architectural details like a coffered ceiling and old casement windows. The owners wanted it to feel masculine yet serene, and I love it because it’s the perfect mix. It’s traditional, but the fun is in the details — think Deco furniture; unusual, earthy ceramics; and modern art.”

Tip: "Eye-popping paint doesn't have to be limited to walls — consider a coat on ceilings, too. In this room, we used a metallic tint to add reflection and a hint of glamour."
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Photo: Courtesy of Sheena Murphy.
Who: Sheena Murphy, Sheep + Stone
Where: Downtown Brooklyn

“I love this room because of how perfectly its simple aesthetic and layout fit the needs of its owners. They’re a Swedish couple whose look is very minimal and quite traditionally Scandinavian — but they wanted a little New York style woven in, too. We kept the lines simple and modern and balanced the high-contrast space with a mix of textures and tones — woods, metals, fur, textiles. It made the space feel lived-in, despite the overall lack of embellishment.”

Tip: “When working with a restrained palette and simple lines, try using high-contrast graphic patterns and a mix of materials and textures to keep the eye moving around the room.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Behrends.
Who: Benjamin Vandiver
Where: Chelsea

“This project was memorable because my client, a young professional, was working with a blank-canvas space on a relatively small budget. I believe it's important to educate clients on collecting pieces they'll keep forever from the start, regardless of financial limitations — here, we found a chic bed frame from CB2 for $1,000 and a special piece of art for $250, which helped elevate the room without breaking the bank.”

Tip: “Newer lofts like this one can be a little boring architecturally. Adding artwork, layered textures, and assorted personal touches helps bring character to an otherwise blank canvas — and it's doable on any budget.”
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Photo: Courtesy of James Ransom.
Name: Raine Heidenberg
Where: Williamsburg

“This bedroom, which I designed for a lovely couple in Williamsburg, is one of my favorites. At first, when I presented the brick-colored grasscloth wallpaper to my clients, they were hesitant — but the space, which was basically a white sheetrock box, desperately needed a transformation. I complemented the warm brick color, inspired by Buddhist temples, with a custom headboard upholstered in a calming ikat fabric.”

Tip: “Many of the newer apartments in New York feel soulless and are crying out for color and texture. To add a little life and inspiration to your space, consider textured wallpaper in a subtler shade of your favorite color. A bright red might have looked garish in this space, so we opted for a sultry, toned-down version instead.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Zac Desart.
Who: Sara Gilbane
Where: Tribeca

“This dining area was previously a rather dark space that my clients intended to use as a happy continuation of their living room. Adding the tray ceiling allowed us space for a burst of brilliant orange lacquer, and I love that the pop of color and patterns keeps everything fresh and unexpected — especially among all the classic blues and whites that are found elsewhere in the space.”

Tip: “Pops of color in unexpected places — like ceilings or the backs of chairs — help turn up the glamour factor in any room. And in this case, what better place for a fun dose of color than a dining room? It really makes you want to stay a while.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Peter Dressel Photography.
Who: Danielle Fennoy and Cece Stelljes, Revamp Interior Design
Where: Dumbo

“We absolutely love this room — part of a three-bedroom apartment in Dumbo — for its mix of custom millwork, vintage and modern furnishings, and pops of color. Our clients were expecting a baby at the time, so we had an unwavering deadline. Thankfully, they had clear goals, an impeccable art collection, and trust in us to get it done — and, believe it or not, fast-paced projects like this are some of our favorites.”

Tip: “Don’t be afraid to mix patterns — the key is to pick a dominant color, like hot pink, and let that be a connecting thread. When in doubt, go for the unexpected!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Niya Bascom Photography.
Who: Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom, Ishka Designs
Where: Park Slope

“We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of an all-white bedroom. For this project, we chose pearly whites in various textural forms — for instance, the wallpaper, the multi-fabric upholstered bed, and the linens — to create layers of visual interest without overwhelming the space. Our client has an incredibly demanding job with lots of travel and long hours, so it was important to make this the ultimate decompression zone, peaceful and serene.”

Tip: “We really loved the sconces for their leather detail, but ultimately, they weren’t so practical. To fix the problem, we had an electrician add a toggle switch to the bases, so the lights could be easily turned on and off without having to get up — an easy solution that anyone can use for their own troublesome fixtures.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Cohen.
Name: Sasha Bikoff
Where: Upper West Side

“This project will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was my first major job and it was located in The Dakota, which is one of the most iconic residential buildings in New York. I combined multiple influences, from Ballets Russes to Studio 54, while remaining true to my passion for all things French and mid-century. It’s feminine yet sexy — and most importantly, it’s an experience.”

Tip: “I was influenced by so many things when designing this space. When it comes to deciding on the vibe and color palette of your own home, borrow inspiration from everywhere — a foreign city, a painting you love, or even just a particular moment in time that means something to you. Be fearless!”
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Photo: Courtesy of Nick Johnson.
Who: Alyssa Kapito and Vivian Muller, Kapito Muller
Where: Upper East Side

“We love this soft white kitchen, which belongs to an apartment we renovated on the Upper East Side. The subtle mid-century details — the Gerrit Rietveld-esque chair and the Eames table, for example — keep the space feeling new and fresh, and the window by the banquette area imparts a beautiful glow. We could sit in that gorgeous light all day.”

Tip: “Galley kitchens are always a bit of a design challenge — you’ll want to make sure to maximize functionality while also keeping the space from feeling too closed-in. Using glass cabinets helps. Reducing the size of your ventilation hood is a good trick, too.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Decorative Traces.
Who: Danielle Mastrangelo and Jessica Stambaugh, Decorative Traces
Where: Lincoln Square

“Our favorite New York City project was an apartment we designed for two sisters working in the arts. We took inspiration for the mood and color palette from the Alex Prager photograph above the fireplace — and what makes it all work in the end is the mix of textures and finishes, from plush velvets and leather to Lucite and antique gilt. It’s glamorous and serene. The way all the different elements play off each other is what makes the space a success in our eyes.”

Tip: “Our clients entertain often, so we incorporated a variety of seating options, including benches, a chaise, and a pair of small chairs in addition to the sofa. A bonus: The benches and chairs are moderate enough in scale that they can easily be moved as needed during events.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Christina Lily.
Who: Casey DeBois
Where: Upper East Side

“I really love the proportion and scale in this space, which is located in a black glass tower on the Upper East Side. Everything is uniform and balanced without feeling generic. By mixing new and vintage pieces with the couple’s existing furniture, we were able to create a warm and inviting space with a nice personal touch.”

Tip: “Add personality to a space by mixing design eras, styles, and materials. Here, mid-century chairs, a Hollywood Regency brass-style credenza, and a contemporary sofa balance each other out and add to an overall eclectic feel. In the end, you don’t want your space to look like a carbon copy of a design showroom or a catalog. Make it your own — a home that’s been thoughtfully curated will never look outdated.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Lilly Bunn.
Who: Lilly Bunn
Where: Lower Fifth Avenue

“This project is a favorite of mine as it was an opportunity to make a space look fashionable with bold colors, fabrics, and textures while also ensuring that it was comfortable and functional for a young family.”

Tip: Consider starting from the ground up — literally. “A rug is always the first thing I choose for a room. This purple Greek key rug provided a strong palette to start with, and complements the grasscloth walls and bright upholstery.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Norris.
Who: Jenny J. Norris
Where: Prospect Heights

“I love the timeless and airy feel of this client’s Brooklyn master bathroom. I’m a bit of a minimalist and always find myself gravitating toward monochrome palettes and clean lines.”

Tip: “Don’t be afraid to mix metals — a well-chosen variety helps add warmth and visual interest to any room.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Marco Ricca.
Who: Kati Curtis
Where: Upper East Side

“Each room we design has to combine three elements: crafted, cultured, and collected. This room is one of my favorites because it epitomizes all of those things. This client loves color — and so do we — so we were able to go bold while anchoring everything with the incredible antique rug as center stage. It reminds me of a Matthew Williamson dress — wildly and colorfully patterned, yet expertly tailored.”

Tip: “Make sure to balance boldness with quieter details. One of the reasons this room works is that even though there’s lots of color, pattern, and texture, it’s balanced with more refined accents, like the sculptured glass cocktail table.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Fran Parente.
Who: Maria Brito
Where: Lower Manhattan

“This house was entrusted to me as a completely raw space — and when I saw the 20-foot ceilings, I knew I had to take it on. Because my clients requested I do so, I restrained myself in terms of using crazy colors and patterns — but I love that I got away with having them purchase the most incredible art piece: that massive diptych by Eric Parker. A couple of years later, that piece became the foundation for the accessories line I launched just recently.”

Tip: “Art ties everything together. I never, ever design a room without an excellent piece of contemporary art, and in this case, as I mentioned, the Parker diptych was truly mind-blowing.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Mariel Tyler.
Who: Danielle Arps
Where: Union Square

“I love this space because it merges residential design — it’s a fully functional studio apartment, after all — with professional practicality. My client, a food-focused startup called Kitchensurfing, uses it for dinners, demos, and events.”

Tip: “Mix woods that are similar — but not the same — tone with darker accents, like the picture frames on this gallery wall and the Hans Wegner-inspired dining chairs. This helps tie together a neutral palette in a clean, sophisticated way.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Karen Williams.
Who: Karen Williams
Where: Park Avenue

“This apartment originally featured a loft-like layout devoid of a dedicated kitchen space. I had to incorporate all the features of a full chef’s kitchen — including professional appliances and a steam oven — in a particularly small corner space. Working around those challenges is what made it an especially memorable project.”

Tip: “When faced with the challenge of designing a kitchen in a small space, don’t shy away from bold colors. In fact, a variety of color and texture is often exactly what a small space needs — here, I chose mint-julep cabinets and minklike, glossy fumed oak to complement the decor of the adjoining entertainment area.”
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Photo: Courtesy of White Arrow.
Who: Keren Richter, White Arrow
Where: Nolita

“We recently redesigned a tiny Nolita apartment that was in shambles when we arrived. Luckily, our client trusted our vision, and we were able to transform the home — on a very small budget, no less — into one that felt calm, well-appointed, and, by Manhattan standards, even spacious.”

Tip: “Framing and matting art can be wildly expensive, but a cheap way to display imagery is to find frames at thrift stores and paint them black or white. Then make art to fill them or resize images to fit.”
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