This Bright New York Living Room
Is Designed to Entertain
Featured Ideabook By Brenna Malmberg
November 9, 2017
Photos by Christian Garibaldi
Empty nesters downsize to a Soho loft but make sure they still have plenty of room to host family and friends
Living Room at a Glance
Who lives here: Designer Jennifer Connell and her husband, Shane
Location: Soho neighborhood of New York City
Size: 800 square feet (74.3 square meters)
The backstory: Soon-to-be empty nesters Jennifer and Shane Connell wanted to downsize to a cozy and fun loft in New York City. “We’d been preparing for all of our children leaving,” Jennifer says. “We live in New Jersey. It’s a beautiful home but we wanted something different.” They wanted theater, art, nightlife and entertainment options instead of a local community that shut down at 9:30 p.m.
Goals: The couple wanted a loft that could host and seat all of their family and friends. That’s the main reason they were moving to the city, and that desire dictated all of their decisions. Jennifer, who runs her own design company, knew that to get ample entertaining space out of the loft, they would need to furnish it intentionally. “I consider the functionality of every piece of furniture, every niche and entranceway, and every accessory down to the most minute of details,” she says, “including the teapot on the stove.”
Style: The elevator opens onto the loft, where you’re greeted with a scene of happy colors and a plethora of textures. “When you walk in and see the window treatments and art on the wall, it’s soft and fun, even when it’s snowing outside,” Jennifer says. The style is a departure from their more traditional home in New Jersey, and exactly the look they wanted.
Furniture options: Jennifer went with multiple pieces of furniture rather than one large sectional because it creates layout flexibility. They can move the pieces around as needed, adding in a chair or pulling over a bar stool when the crowd grows. The options create living room space for at least 17 people.
Sofa: The couple’s grown children planned to visit, and they wanted to give them a place to crash. Jennifer decided a custom sofa that’s nearly the size of a twin mattress could work as a bed and a great living room lounge piece. Unfortunately, furniture this big can’t easily be moved into a New York apartment. In her work as an interior designer, Jennifer had encountered tight doors and small elevators before, and she knew of a company called Sofa Surgery, a moving service that specializes in disassembling and reassembling large pieces of furniture.
Coffee table: Even the coffee table can serve as seating because of its padded edges. In the center, Jennifer can showcase some of her favorite New York art finds, such as the tube of lipstick encased in an acrylic block. “I have a little obsession with Lucite,” she says. “I saw this in Salisbury Park and I had to have it.” As you look around the room, you’ll see other clear pieces, such as the bar stool legs and Jennifer’s corner desk.
Personal art collection: Shane painted this large giraffe artwork, as well as other pieces in the room. The painting had been in the couple’s New Jersey attic, but Jennifer knew it would be perfect in the new space.
Colors: With the artwork in mind, she built the room’s color palette in pinks, yellows, blacks, whites and grays. She kept the main features neutral and introduced color with pillows, window treatments and decor.
Pro tip: When you keep the main furnishings in a neutral color, you can easily change the look and feel of the room by swapping out the smaller, less permanent items, Jennifer says. Pillows and artwork are the easiest pieces to change.
Corner desk: Clear acrylic strikes again, this time in the form of a corner desk where Jennifer can work on interior design projects. She paired the desk with a chair re-covered in a bright bird-patterned fabric.
Year-round floral: The flowers on the desk always look fresh and cheerful because they’re made of paper.
Bar cart: Near the entry and on the way toward the living room, a bar cart sits beneath another painting by Shane. The cart sets the tone for the couple’s favorite activity: entertaining.