The Real.Est List
BuiltIn Studio: How to design like a New Yorker
We’re dressing up the Real.Est. List Spotlight this week with full-service Brooklyn design firm BuiltIn Studio. In business since 2008, the interiors duo will handle everything from spiffing up living space to overhauling bathrooms.
Architectural designers Gary Eisner and Terence Kinee have managed top projects like the Silver Towers and the Residences at the Plaza. They oversee a good deal of residential apartment renovations with a concentration in kitchens and baths, but the pair often takes on entire residences too.
We asked Eisner and Kinee for some tips on common NYC design conundrums:
- Best wall color for lack of light: When there's plenty of light, the pair “prefers shades of gray in most instances,” but when natural light is limited, they “move toward whites,” which can enlarge and lighten up a dingy space. Eisner says, “We use a lot of Benjamin Moore Decorator White, which has a slight grayish hue, it's not as bright as Super White and tends to be more comfortable to live with on a daily basis."
- Best window shades (to keep the neighbors' peeping eyes out): For privacy, Eisner and Kinee suggest solar shades because they allow for discretion while still allowing light to filter through. Eisner explains, “In spaces where more privacy and/or less light is needed, we’ll add a second blackout shade, most commonly in bedrooms. We like Horizon Window Treatments and The Shade Store."
- Storage space: They create unique solutions for storage. When the firm installs a PTAC unit (packaged terminal air conditioner, or through-wall unit, often used in a New York apartment), they design a custom built-in from wall to wall to include storage on either side of it. This not only encloses the unattractive A/C, but it has space for things like CDs, DVDs, books and more.
- Modernizing a prewar apartment: The team likes using wallcovering, paint or tile with bold patterns on prewar walls, or even darker solid colors. “You don’t always have to paint the trim white," notes Eisner. Modern furniture can complement prewar detailing nicely. “A lot of our clients want to maintain the prewar character but still hold onto their modern aesthetic with their furnishings and decorations," Eisner says.
- Warming up a brand new condo: When a cookie-cutter apartment is delivered stark white with no architectural interest, BuiltIn Studio suggests adding base and crown molding as well as playing with the lighting. "Adding sconces or accent lighting is a great way to bring interest to a space," explains Eisner. Installing floor to ceiling millwork is another solution that can add character to an otherwise dull living room. "If it's integrated with the right lighting and coordinated with correct paint choices and furniture selections, you've really changed the feel of the room."
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