Designer Jennifer Mehditash injects European flair in NYC

Zesty colour combinations, inviting textures and some inspired textile choices have transformed this spacious apartment in Manhattan’s historic Wooster Street into a refreshingly relaxed family home

The New York loft might have started life in the 1970s as the last resort of impoverished artists so desperate for a place to live and work that they’d squat in draughty industrial units, but the concept has come a long way since. What these old factories and former warehouses lacked in home comforts and modern conveniences they made up for with their open-plan layouts and their sense of light and space. Even the rough finishes of exposed brick, bare concrete and metal quickly became a look to be coveted, from Manhattan and Brooklyn all the way around the globe.
But what is deeply desirable for bohemian 20-somethings is nearly always less well suited to family life. Is it possible for the loft concept to work when you have toddlers running around? The owners of this apartment in lower Manhattan, on historic, cobbled Wooster Street in the heart of SoHo, had to face exactly this dilemma when they made their purchase three years ago.
A couple of entrepreneurs in the creative industries, they also had two children under the age of three, and 3,000 square feet of bare brick and exposed pipework was suddenly starting to feel just a little too cutting-edge.
They called in Mehditash Design, the interiors agency run by Jennifer Mehditash with whom they had worked on a previous property in New York, and asked her to turn the apartment into a place that would feel like home. Then they found somewhere to rent for four months while Jennifer and her team got to work.
The whole project, Jennifer realised, was going to be some­thing of a balancing act. The apartment’s great strength was its generous proportions, so she would have to be clever about making the most of these while giving a sense of cosiness. “To succeed, we would have to maintain a happy medium between glamour and comfort,” she recalls. “There was nothing here to start with – just the bare bones of all-white walls and the standard fittings specified by the builder.” The ceiling was an unusual design of lightly undulating arches, and was held up in the central areas by supporting pillars.
From her previous dealings with the clients, Jennifer had several pointers for the colour scheme and the overall feeling of the place. She knew they both had a love of vibrant tones and a liking for all things Mediterranean. When she spotted an Italian lacquered sideboard in a hot shade of tangerine, she knew she had the first piece in the puzzle: “It kickstarted the whole design.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 212-220, issue 97.

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Words Judy Diamond
Photography Stacey van Berkel Photography