Homepolish designer Kate Banks breathed life into a brand-new Carroll Gardens for family home that balances the style of both coasts—light and dark, contemporary and classic, striking and subtle.
Photos by Sean Litchfield.
A blank slate can be a wonderful place to begin. And for Homepolish designer Kate Banks and her client starting from scratch was especially scratch. The Carroll Gardens apartment was so brand-new the two weren’t even able to walk through at the initial meeting.
But Kate knew this couldn’t be a home filled with cut-and-dry decor. The client, who hails from sunny Los Angeles, wanted to infuse her home state’s warm and laid-back attitude into the NYC space.
“We decided if we did it right, combining the traditional Brooklyn aesthetic with touches of modern, sunny LA vibes—we could really do something great,” Kate explains. “That’s what we went for—LA meets Brooklyn.”
That meant steering away from anything that felt too generic.
“The apartment was a totally blank canvas; the builders had picked out some finishes but had yet to install them, so we were able to change a few before we got started,” says Kate. “We customized the space with hardware in the bathrooms, lighting in the kitchen and bathrooms, and even custom switchplates in the entry space.”
But, of course, switch plates do not a design make. From there, Kate got to stretch with textures and patterns excited her, and her equally daring client—and her busy family of four.
“While I love a good all-white apartment, I also love playing with textures, colors, and patterns for walls. I l-o-v-e wallpaper!” Kate shares. “So does the client, so we went to town—but we didn’t overdo it.”
When it came to designing the children’s rooms, Kate aimed for balance. “For both rooms, we created spaces that the kids could be excited about and interested in, without going overboard and following some sort of theme,” explains Kate.
“We left extra space in her daughter’s nursery for a bigger bed that will go in once she outgrows her crib. We really tried to keep the future in consideration when we made design decisions in the kids rooms. By keeping in mind the fact that they will grow and change and their rooms should grow and change with them, we created spaces that should last them a while!”
Walking into the colorful, textured nursery could almost feel like walking out into a sunny Santa Monica day. The room’s cozy, endearing atmosphere is defined by the combination of a yellow-toned wallpaper and a blue rug that feels as calming as the ocean.
The whimsical, fairytale-like wallpaper, the dreamy rug, the ethereal white furniture, and a lovely hideaway space draped in a sheer canopy all work to create a space that will let the little one’s imagination run wild.
“I love how the nursery ended up looking,” says Kate. “We wrapped all the walls in such a sweet wallpaper by Flat Vernacular. Her daughter loves animals, so we wanted to make a magical, happy wonderland for her to grow up in.”
With other parts of the home, Kate and the client opted for choices that were less soft and striking. Walk into the space and you’re greeted with one of Kate’s favorite parts—the luxurious, glossy entryway.
“I’ve always wanted to do a lacquered wall in a rich jewel tone, so when I suggested it to the client, she loved the idea,” shared Kate. “We worked with a very talented painter and wallpaper expert and both executed the lacquer perfectly. Because there aren’t any windows in the entry, we were able to worry less about flaws and imperfections in the walls that natural light potentially could have highlighted.”
A light fixture reminiscent of the bygone Don Draper-era paired with a Mid-Century Modern sideboard topped with equally glossy marble add to the luxe, opulent feel of the entryway.
The living room and kitchen were the spaces where that dream California vibe came to life. Rich neutrals like walnut and ruddy brown were woven together with hints of regal color (a bold purple rug), leaving the space to be defined more by texture than hue.
“I could play with neutrals forever. I also love messing around with different textures because I find it important to bring in warm, natural, organic-feeling materials like linen, jute, and wood and then combine them cooler materials like marble or stone,” Kate shares. “This approach creates depth and rounds out a space. I think it’s especially important to add texture and depth in brand-new buildings and spaces that may lack in the architectural character or charm that some older buildings have.”
Kate chose to keep the master bedroom calm, cool, and collected with her signature combination of warm and cool neutrals. Soft gray walls, icy blue curtains, and cozy shades of greige make for a parents’ retreat—two young kids can be a lot of work, after all.
“I love the energy and feel in the master bedroom,” Kate tells us. “As soon as you walk in through a beaded tone-on-tone wallpaper and into the space, you’re filled with a serene feeling. We played with mixing modern and traditional in the master, and I’m so happy with the final look.”
As if a completely and totally freshly-designed space wasn’t stunning enough, the family is also lucky enough to have a roomy, private outdoor space.
“I worked with Amber Freda to help with the planters and pergola. This really customized the space and created a bit more privacy,” says the designer. “The client wanted a crisp, modern vibe outside we opted for simple, clean lines. Black and gray hues paired with the geometrical concrete table helped to achieve our goal. I think their outdoor space will just get better as time goes on!”
While Kate and the client were toiling away, the client opted to keep her husband and kids totally in the dark.
“The client’s husband gave his opinion on the bigger pieces and some of the art and wallpaper choices, but he and the kids didn’t know what was going on behind-the-scenes,” shares Kate. “When the family was given the OK to move in, she sent her husband and kids to Florida for the weekend so that the design could be tightened up. They came home to a completely furnished and designed space just in time for their first Thanksgiving in their new home.”