A Sophisticated, Contemporary Crown Heights Apartment

A Sophisticated, Contemporary Crown Heights Apartment

A Sophisticated, Contemporary Crown Heights Apartment


For her client’s Crown Heights apartment, Paula Guzman incorporates elements from Japanese and Scandinavian design in a way that feels decidedly New York City.

Photos by Kenya Bravo

For a first-time homeowner, tackling interiors can be intimidating, especially when you’re investing in long-term pieces—and finally purging your space of your early 20s furniture choices. Fortunately, Paula Guzman’s client was on board to make sweeping changes where it mattered.

“My client’s not afraid to take risks in design, which made working with him a blast,” Paula explains.

That open-minded perspective led to a design that bears the imprint of several cultures, with an emphasis on Japanese and Scandinavian design in particular. Paula wanted the apartment to feel thoughtfully curated, so she sourced items from a variety of vendors and tried not to use the same one more than once in any given room.

In the dining nook, Paula’s favorite corner of the house, she opted for prouve-style chairs, inspired by furnishings she saw at a Caribbean restaurant Crown Heights. And the idea for the oak dining table and bench came from an intimate Japanese restaurant she stumbled upon in Soho.

“I was inspired by the simplicity of the layout in the restaurant and the oak wood furniture,” Paula shares.

In the two bedrooms, Paula established distinctive vibes, continuing to draw from various global styles. In the sun-drenched guest room, she clad the walls in a checkerboard pattern inspired by a photo of sliding screens in a Japanese tea house. And in the master bedroom, she embraced the space’s minimal light, transforming it into a cozy respite.

“You know you have a great client when they agree to let you paint their bedroom black,” Paula says. “The dark paint color creates the illusion of depth, and actually makes the room feel vast.”

The conventionally masculine themes throughout the room were inspired by her client’s own black-and-white photography, taken during his travels around the world. And while much of the remaining apartment is soft and serene, several pieces of art were selected to usher in color and edge, like the oversized blue ombré piece in the living room by DC-based muralist, Nicole Capuano.

When designing the rest of the living room, Paula adapted the space to be perfect for both lounging and entertaining, incorporating a projector and a leaving a large wall blank so that the room can be transformed into a home theater. Paula also added a row of cubby benches that  offers guests an additional seating option while also serving as storage. So while the rest of the apartment is globally inspired, the multi-functional touch is quintessentially New York City.

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In this tour:
Dining Room