Serene Urban Apartment

Designer Tara Benet uses a clean color palette, modern furniture and abstract artwork to create a sleek, contemporary New York City apartment.

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A neutral palette is livened up with bright punches of color in this contemporary living, dining and office area designed by Tara Benet. Minimal furnishings highlight the city views and allow for a sophisticated, uncluttered design. Benet shares with us how she achieves the modern design and creates the perfect white look.

Describe the homeowners' wishlist.


They wanted a fresh and modern living and dining room with a soft color palette. For the home office, they wanted to get the most out of the small space and still have it feel open. He works from home quite a bit, so I wanted it to be a room he enjoyed spending time in that also brought in a sense of nature through the design.


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What were the homeowners' design problems?

To create a clutter-free environment in the living and dining areas, recessed lighting was installed, a wireless audio/video system was put it and motorized shades were added. This really allowed us to have a clean open space. We also went with tower shelving units that took advantage of the home office's high ceilings to create ample storage systems so that the desk wouldn't be cluttered. They didn't take up too much depth or length, therefore leaving the room feeling spacious.

What was your biggest obstacle in this space?

To have a white look in the living areas, I used different shades of grays and whites on the walls and in the fabrics. This subtle varied color palette gives the room dimension it wouldn't have if it was just painted a stark white. In the office, the lead times for the custom pieces were quite long so I had to make sure there was sufficient temporary storage and a workspace for my client to use until the space was finished.

How does the end result match up with your original vision?

I ended up using the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows as part of my color palette since it is such a large part of the space. Also, the homeowner needed a big desk, which took up the bulk of the office space. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to integrate the nature element I had been looking to add into the space. A custom desk was created using a slab of reclaimed wood which really grounded the room, while the Plexiglas legs made it light and gave it a floating quality.

What lessons did you learn?

Never forget to tie in the floors. These were sanded down to the natural color of the wood to go with the palette I had created. Every detail matters especially when your working in minimalism. Always get fabric and material samples and test them in the space's light and with the other components.

What are the "hidden gems"?

The living and dining areas feature a petrified wood stump as a side table, blackened metal frame on the sofa, custom lacquers and orchids, while a felt-covered rocking chair, a reclaimed wood desk with Plexiglas legs, a black glass and oiled wood side table stand out in the home office.

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