How Designer Gabriela Gargano Created a Light-Filled Space in a Historic NYC Apartment

Makeover of the Week - Grisoro Design NYC Apartment Bright Living Room

Design: Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs, Photo: Kirsten Francis Photography

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.

“A young couple purchased this 1904 turn-of-the-century New York City apartment in the iconic Cocoa Exchange building several years ago, when it was first converted into condos,” interior designer Gabriela Gargano, owner of Grisoro Designs says. “One of the most distinct elements of the building is the unique triangular shape, evident in the curvature of the dining and living room areas. The unusual form, while beautiful, created some design challenges.” 

Meet the Expert

Gabriela Gargano, a New York City-based designer and owner of Grisoro Designs, likes to blend clean lines with rich textures and eclectic pieces, while also referencing art and vintage design.


Makeover of the Week - Grisoro Designs Living Room Before

Photo Courtesy of Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs

“The interior architectural details were largely stripped away during the condo conversion, leaving the all-white space feeling modern yet cold,"Gargano notes. "Our goal was to transform it into a warm, contemporary home. Despite the tall ceilings, the space felt dark due to the deep red Brazilian floors, black granite counters, and limited lighting. Most of the existing furnishings were also dark, which added to the room’s heaviness. We wanted to lighten things up while making sure the furnishings didn't overpower the homeowner’s lovely collection of art, which included works by Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Giovanni Piranesi.”  


Makeover of the Week - Grisoro Designs Living Room Makeover After

Design: Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs, Photo: Kirsten Francis Photography

"We drew our inspiration from Nordic and mid-century design, selecting classic woods like walnut and white oak, and accenting them with a mix of muted pastels for softness and black steel details for modernity and contrast," Gargano explains. "We replaced the red Brazilian laminate floors with wide-planked white oak and repainted the stark white walls in a creamy white hue, to give the space a slightly warmer, softer feel. A mix of curved furnishings were incorporated to balance out the angularity of the home and compliment the shape of the building itself. We focused on natural and family-friendly fabrics, like performance linens and wools, complemented by textured and patterned accessories.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: A palette of warm neutrals were layered with dusty pastels, rich woods, brass, and black steel. 
  • Floor: Red laminate Brazilian wood was replaced with wide planked white oak wood flooring for a warmer feel.
  • Dining table and chairs: A pill-shaped walnut dining table is paired with mid-century oak-stained chairs for a blend of modern and classic.
  • Light fixture: The asymmetric fixture with its powder coated steel and aluminum shades adds a playful design element over the dining table. 
  • Windows: Automated roller shades are tucked away to allow for maximum light. 
  • Sofa: A light gray custom sectional in a child-friendly performance linen is layered with textured pillows in varying tones and patterns. 
  • Coffee table: The open-curved legs in the black pill-shaped table keeps things feeling light and airy.
  • Living room chair: The curved spindle chair balances the linear shape of the sectional.
  • Wine wall: Hidden spaces in the walls were utilized for creative solutions, such as wine storage and a children’s bench. 
  • Rug: A light blue rug injects a bit of color while defining the living from the dining spaces.
  • End table: A round C-table in a blackened finish maintains a slim profile and adds functionality to the area.
  • Wall art: The walls were curated with an eclectic mix of mid-century paintings, prints, and contemporary photography.
  • Bookshelves: Shelving was integrated into the custom millwork surrounding the room’s television. 

Shop the Look:

makeover of the week - Grisoro Designs Dining Room NYC Apartment

Design: Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs, Photo: Kirsten Francis Photography

Fly SC10 lounge chair
Finnish Design Shop Fly SC10 Lounge Chair $2,699.00
Maiden Home The Warren Sofa
Maiden Home The Warren Collection Sofa $3,950.00
lots blue rug
The Rug Company Lots Blue Rug $2,025.00