When Alex Nino first laid eyes on the three-bedroom Manhattan apartment she’d been tasked with designing, she knew the first order of business would be brightening up the space with a neutral color palette. “It was a large space for a New York apartment, however it felt quite dark because of the deep brown floors,” she says.
To start, she painted both the living room and main bedroom in Classic, a crisp light shade of beige, to create a clean backdrop for the scheme “I love this color because—as the name implies—it never goes out of style,” Alexandra says. “I especially love to specify Clare paint because it's zero VOCs and GREENGUARD Gold Certified, which felt particularly important in this case since my client had just welcomed a new baby into their family.”
The end result is equal parts modern and family-friendly, filled with warm earth tones, touchable textures and multitasking furniture pieces. Interested in scoring a similar look at home? From small-space-savvy storage solutions to kid-proof upholstery ideas, Alex breaks down her tips ahead.
Create Contrast with Color
Though brightening up the apartment with light greige paint was a top priority for Alex, she used dark decor accents to ground the space. In the living room, this meant installing black storage shelving and furnishings made of organic stone and wood, and earthy pops of green in the bedroom. “I wanted it to be clean, but still feel like a city apartment as opposed to a beach or vacation home,” she says. “This is ultimately what informed our material choices and the play of white and black in the living room, and more nature-inspired bedroom color palette.”
Find Furniture That Pulls Double Duty
Alex relied on a handful of key multifunctional furniture pieces to carve out extra storage space. “The coffee table in the living room can be used as both an ottoman and surface, and the modular sofa can easily be rearranged to make more space” she says. “We also added a bench at the end of the bed for storing extra bed linens, which was particularly helpful for freeing up room in the closet.”
Take Advantage of Tall Ceilings
In order to play up the apartment’s high ceilings, Alex employed large-scale artwork throughout the apartment and tall open bookshelves in the living room. “My clients have a great book collection, as well as many photos and trinkets from their travels over the years, and the open shelves allowed them to display them in the living room,” she says. “Not only does it look sharp, it was a great way to save space in other areas of the apartment.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Layer Rugs
To bring warmth and a grounding element to a lofty space, Alex recommends layering rugs wherever possible. “I think that people are often under the impression that layering rugs is expensive, but it really doesn't have to be,” she says. “In the bedroom, we layered a large (and affordable) jute rug with a smaller vintage rug,”
Opt for Kid-Friendly Upholstery
Don’t let the pale hues of neutral upholstery deter you—Alex says even the lightest colored performance fabrics can withstand kids and four-legged family members. “My clients have a child and (at the time) a dog,” she says. “Selecting quality performance fabrics (with a good stain-resistant finish) ultimately allowed us to stick with a neutral color palette to keep the room feeling as light and bright as possible,” she says.
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