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How One Designer Gave an NYC Apartment a Fresh New Look for a First-Time Buyer

Modern NYC living room with two chairs and black wall art.

Design: Fanny Abbes; Photo: Alan Gastelum; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“The homeowner is a young female professional who was looking to decorate her new 1917 Manhattan-based apartment,” interior designer Fanny Abbes shares. “It was important the living room reflect her vibrant personality and modern taste, but it also had to be functional as she loves to host friends and family.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Fanny Abbes is the creative director and founder of The New Design Project in Brooklyn, New York. She loves fresh and modern minimalist design.


Empty NYC apartment.

Courtesy of Fanny Abbes

“The living room had dreary cream-colored walls, floor-to-ceiling drapes, and ugly track lighting,” Abbes shares. “It was basically an empty space that needed to be brought to life.” 


Modern and clean NYC apartment living room with white sofa and blue area rug.

Design: Fanny Abbes; Photo: Alan Gastelum

“My client wanted professionally curated pieces, but was very focused on her budget,” Abbes notes. “So, I delivered something inviting and upscale yet affordable, filling the room with a mix of high- and low-priced items. I stuck with mostly neutral colors along with a pop of blue on the floor and a black accent wall for a cool yet modern feel.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Bright white, black, gold, and blue combine for an airy, minimalist effect. 
  • Sofa: An oversized 125” white canvas sofa has sleek lines for a contemporary look. 
  • Lounge chairs: Handmade chairs are created out of paper cord, a material often found in Scandinavian and midcentury designs. 
  • Chair: An Italian full-grain leather neckroll and a sheepskin cushion add to the comfort of this Hans J. Wegner-inspired chair. 
  • Pendant: Teardrop-shaped glass globes hang from cables adding an industrial element to the space. 
  • Coffee table: Two glass and chrome tables align with the extra-long sofa. 
  • Rug: A silk rug with blue, gray, and white hues provides most of the color in the room.  
  • Curtains: Sheer white panels create privacy while allowing light to filter within the space. 
  • Artwork: A black and white canvas has a dramatic effect against the neutral walls and furniture. 
  • Plant: A low-maintenance cactus adds greenery to the mostly neutral space.
  • Bookshelves: Metal and glass shelving are placed at various heights to help showcase candlesticks, books, artwork, and other design elements.
  • End tables: Two cylinder-shaped tables flank the sofa’s ends, creating a spot for drinks or books. 
  • Accent wall: A black accent wall (Benjamin Moore PM-9) adds drama against all the white.

Shop the Look:

Modern accent chair in corner next to black accent wall.

Design: Fanny Abbes; Photo: Alan Gastelum

Hanging Ceiling Pendant Light
WACO Hanging Ceiling Pendant Light $76.00

“The cable wires on these pendants can be adjusted to suit any height,” Abbes notes. 

Flag Halyard Chair
Interior Icons Flag Halyard Chair $1,999.00

“I love this chair because it incorporates multiple textures, including metal, leather, and sheepskin,” Abbes shares.

Interior Icons PK61 $949.00

“This glass-topped table allows the color of any rug to shine through,” Abbes says.