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The No-Rules Approach
to Interior Design
by Christiane Lemieux 



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Home At Last!

I remember how hard it was moving into a new city and having to start from scratch, especially putting together a new place and making it feel like your own. A dear friend of mine recently moved to New York into an adorable 300 square-feet studio in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It is the perfect white canvas with great bones and wonderful natural light, very hard to find in the city. She had asked me to help her figure out a way to transform her new pad into a place she could call home — of course, on a budget.

She had planned a two-week trip abroad, so I thought this would be the perfect time to undertake this small but challenging project. She already had the basic pieces of furniture: a daybed, a chest of drawers, a couple of chairs, a rug, a coffee table, a mirror and two lamps. My job was to stretch the walls and make this small area into a multi-functional space. So I rolled up my sleeves and let the fun begin!


I knew my palette was going to be neutral so I could bring splashes of color with the accessories. So the first thing on my list was to create a focal point, with paint, on the wall behind the daybed. But instead of covering the whole wall, I decided to paint two rectangles in gray and black — the easiest way to visually divide the space.  

A necessary touch to make any space homier is to soften it with curtains and pillows. By hanging the drapes closer to the ceiling, you will make any space look taller. It certainly worked in her place. Don't be afraid of expressing yourself by framing your favorite prints, and be playful when displaying them.



When planning the space, I thought the best location for the dining table was next to the window, so she could enjoy her cup of coffee with a view. Your best friends when designing on a budget are the flea markets and second-hand stores. With patience and creativity, you can go a long way. These amazing bright yellow chairs, found in a thrift shop, were the perfect touch to add a little bit of sunshine to this corner. In order to personalize the room, I took a photo of her, shot by photographer Omar Cruz, and had it enlarged  to be the protagonist above the decorative fireplace. It so happened it was her favorite photograph.



To bring some unity to the space, and jazz up the other side of the apartment, I painted gray stripes around the closet wall. They define the space better and create volume, making the wall look longer. Another good trick for making small places look larger is to hang mirrors in the right places to create the feeling of more space.

Images © TheDesignerPad

So the reveal day finally came. Last Sunday my friend arrived from her holiday to a brand new home. She had no clue what she was walking into. When she came through the door, she froze. I could tell she was thrilled with the results and told me it was the most beautiful place she has ever lived in. I'm glad I was able to help make her place a cozy home.

The best finds

Reader Comments (16)

Oh My God!!! - I am speechless!!! This is Great!!! You guys did such a nice job. I love it!!!...make over my apartment!!! - Such a difference. The apartment looks very chic, modern and bigger than what it is...Great Great Great!!!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarlenni

A dream apartment! And it's only 300 sq. Wow! Congratulations. And my favorite part is the ugly closet wall that you painted with gray stripes and you transformed it in something fabulous. Great job!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArmando Correa

Great work! It's very inspiring to see such an enormous change in a small space and while using most of the old stuff! I love what you did with the fireplace and the touches of yellow here and there!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEleni

it just looks so good & amazing!!! nice, bright and airy. if you have a contest to do a living room, i will be the first to sign up!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChiara

Nunca había vivido en un lugar tan agradable. Ha sido la mejor bienvenida que he tenido. No quiero salir de casa, has logrado que me convierta en una mujer hogareña. Gracias Eduardo!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

I am speechless! This makeover is what you can call a MAKEOVER! The hints of yellow (my absolute favorite color!) really give it that warm touch! This is totally Carola!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMirtha

Fabulous makeover!!! I love the color combination, yellow chairs, really nice, elegant and cosy. Congratulations Eduardo!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFedora

Wow! Great job full of common sense and creativity: two amazing components to transform a living space! Felicidades!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Sirgado

WOW!! This is amazeballs!! It's cozy and modern and budget-friendly all in one!! Felicidades chicos!! Please tell me where I sign up for your next decoration project--I will paint, drill, lift, haul, feed...WHATEVER!!

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalia

It looks soooo much bigger. Great transformation! For those of us that come from other places, living in New York is an adventure. Having a home that looks like this, must feel like a vacation….

Nov 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLuis

What a beautiful space, congratulations! Seeing these pictures has inspired me to rethink my own living space.

Nov 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

What happened to the two Swedish-looking chairs that you replaced with the yellow ones? They may have lacked the pop of yellow, but they were nice.

Nov 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLars

Hi Lars,
Those two chairs are great. She still kept them for when she has more people come over. BTW, they're from IKEA.

Nov 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterEduardo
Tío no doubt you are a talented designer. Love the work you did with this place! Looking forward to see more of your own work here :)
Jan 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki
Wow, the transformation is simply amazing. Love the results.
Feb 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershalini
What a gorgeous house... love these ideas!!
Jul 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterinterior designs

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