Striking the right balance between minimal and inviting is no easy feat, but one NYC-based design and development firm has mastered the formula. ASH NYC, a firm that specializes in anything from residential buildings to private residences, restaurants, and hotels, has built a signature look on the principles of clean simplicity and an elegant mix of styles and periods—but never at the expense of comfort.
While we often think that something may be missing from our décor, the designers at ASH NYC adopt a different approach: What if something needs to be taken out of the space? Through strict editing and a keen eye for design, the firm has positioned itself as an expert in home staging—creating dozens of model homes and apartments for a variety of luxury clients. The firm's latest project? Ten model units in FiDi's newest luxury rental building, 180 Water. We chatted with Andrew Bowen, director of staging at ASH NYC, about the project and the best tricks to create a staged space that feels inviting and innovative.
Want to give your own space the expertly staged treatment? Read through Bowen's tips.
Make it Memorable
"Our ethos relies on the belief that in order to paint the clearest possible picture of how a home can be lived in for prospective buyers, each of our spaces needs to be memorable, interesting, and unique," Bowen says. "Particularly for the space limitations of NYC—compared to the suburbs, for example—our staging needs to be functional yet not constrained. Finally, it's important to us that we're constantly reinventing our own wheel by designing and creating models that are completely different from one another, while also carefully blending certain subtle moments together that maintain a common thread."
In this apartment, the designers kept an airy and bright color palette and added in Scandinavian elements. They made the space memorable by adding a large Serge Mouille light fixture to the wall and adding a sheepskin to ASH's iconic arc stool.
Maximize Livable Space
"Before we put together the full design concept boards, I sit down with each of our designers and start talking about the overarching colors, materials, and vibe that we want to explore for each unit," says Bowen. "With ten model units, like at 180 Water, it's critical that we're showing a wide range of color palettes to appeal to the broadest possible audience, while, of course, still staying on track with the spirit of each individual home."
In this one bedroom's dining area, the designers kept a peachy color palette and added in a wall-mounted desk by the window with a shiny copper chair.
"Aesthetically, we aimed to create a sense of authenticity, that feeling that someone lives here," explains Bowen. "We also wanted to make sure that we created a styled, contemporary, and aspirational living experience, in keeping with the building's branding and amenities."
Creating a wide range of styles for various prospective buyers was important to the ASH NYC team so that anyone could envision themselves living in the space—from the international architecture student to the driven and well-heeled finance professional to the low-key progressive couple to the nuclear family of four.
Make a Plan
"Functionally, especially in the entry level units, we love to show how much you can do with, for example, 400 square feet," explains Bowen. "In one unit of this size, we were able to show people how easily you can create a completely full dining area, sleeping area, living area, and even study area—even though for us, a lot of thinking and planning obviously went into the design."
In this unit, the design team created a flexible and functional dining table that doubled as a kitchen. The benches, which can easily be tucked under the table, are fully custom with upholstered seat pads.
Layer Different Styles
"We're known for generally creating spaces that can probably be described as forward-thinking, collected, minimal, clean, and thoughtful," adds Bowen. "We like to layer many eras and styles in the same space carefully. We're constantly evolving." In this master suite, the design team added a few nods to the 1980s as an homage to the golden Wall Street era that's iconic to the neighborhood.
Constantly Question Yourself
"We are always asking ourselves is this too much?, while concurrently asking is this enough? Eventually, it falls into place and feels right," explains Bowen. "There are also so many details that are worked out in person rather than on paper or digitally." Through trial and error, ASH NYC is able to create effortless spaces that feel edited and welcoming.
"We try not to tie ourselves down to one specific style," says Bowen. "In order to successfully stage spaces that look like these, it's important that our team remains passionate about design, art, and style, in general. We stay informed about different historical periods, we like to travel, and we, of course, are constantly seeking inspiration." Because this bedroom was narrow, the design team opted for a bed sans headboard and instead made the artwork a focal point.
And now, the number one small-space hack New Yorkers swear by.