Designer Ashlie Broderic helped a couple renovate a very gritty duplex into a warm, modernist escape (just wait until you see the bedroom mural) in NYC.
Photos by Sean Litchfield
Not every neighborhood has a “vibe.” Some homes don’t need to remind you where they are once you walk in the door. But the East Village has an aesthetic, and the best homes there channel it.
Or should we say the best designers do.
Homepolish designerwas called in to help bring a clean, city feeling to this 1,200 square-foot East Village duplex. The clients, a pair of restaurateurs with two adorable small dogs, were in the process of gutting the space but needed help bring their vision to life.
So Ashlie leaned into the sense of place, translating their the client’s relaxed attitude across through minimalist decor punctuated by concerte and blackened steel.
“They were looking for a minimal, industrial vibe that was also comfortable easy to entertain in,” Ashlie explains. “I would describe the style as warm modernism. The lines are clean, and the color palette is limited. The interest comes from juxtaposing different materials and textures.”
To get some of that material magic, Ashlie return the space back to its original splendor.
“The building is over 100 years old it had gorgeous textured brickwork throughout, which was completely covered with drywall by the previous owner,” Ashlie said. “We exposed the brickwork strategically in the office and living room to add character, without feeling overpowering.“
While the palette was limited, not just any shade of black or white would do.
“We carefully considered how to balance different materials to keep the space feeling light and airy,” she explains. “The windows face north, so the light is diffuse and cool, which can feel gloomy. Throughout the upper level we used a soft grey on the walls to keep them feeling bright. It is counterintuitive, but to make a dark space feel brighter never paint the walls white.”
With the architectural elements solidified, Ashlie made sure every piece echoed their ethos.
“The New York cityscape, especially in the Lower East Side, is all about brick, concrete, black, and white,” Ashlie explains. “The doors and windows are the defining features of the space that were part of my program from the beginning. The living room sofa stands on skinny black metal T-legs that tie in perfectly with the doors and windows.”
Ashlie and her clients spent time shopping local makers for statement pieces, like the Aja Blanc mirror in the entryway, while keeping everything to the strict scheme. The living room’s white sofa and light rug balance the dark coffee table while buttery leather benches add a pop of color. Each detail mattered.
“Throw pillows were surprisingly important to the overall look,” Ashlie explains. “There is not a lot of furniture, so the extra texture from the pillows was important. The throw pillows on the sofa in blacks, whites, and greys add a final layer of texture and interest.”
Crafting the perfect kitchen for a pair of restaurateurs could be a tall order to say the least. Luckily, Ashlie’s clients knew just what they wanted.
“The client’s are visionaries,” she compliments. “They came to me with the idea for black cabinets and I was on board immediately. A black kitchen, like a black outfit, is something you can do in New York.”
The matte black cabinets call to the blackened steel windows and doors, and are balanced by bright white counters.
“The biggest challenge was making sure the materials were beautiful, but also durable and functional,” Ashlie explains. “We originally planned to use Nero Marquina marble slabs in the kitchen, but learned that the material etches easily and shows every little crumb. Ultimately the clients decided to use Ceasarstone, which is more durable and looks great without much maintenance.”
Downstairs, the bedroom offers a chance to break the stricter, streamlined palette of the rest of the space. Here Ashlie wanted to offer a sunny escape.
“There is very little natural light in the room, but we wanted it to feel bright,” she explains. “Using bold color in a dark space can create the illusion of light. I was inspired by Jordan Sullivan, who photographs sunrises in the desert that create unbelievable gradients of color. I wanted the room to feel like walking into a sunrise in one of his photos.”
That meant hiring a finisher to come in and create a custom, peach ombre mural for the space. The ethereal vibes continue thanks to the ample, nubly linen headboard and pale wooden accents of the bed. Ashlie finished the look by commissioning a California-cool ceramic wall-hanging.
If you’re thinking that the level of detail is astonishing, let us dazzle you with how she made sure the duplex’s tiniest tenants were taken care of.
“The whole space needed to be pet-friendly,” Ashlie said. “They were very specific about the living room sofa—it needed to be either eight inches off the floor or flat on the ground because their dog kept getting his toys stuck under their old sofa, and they wanted to prevent that from happening. A sofa that high is unusual, but we found one, upholstered in commercial grade fabric, no less, so it’s both pet friendly and very chic.”
Need that kind of attention to your own space? Sign up for Homepolish today.