Tour a Designer's Sophisticated Tribeca Loft

New York City designer Jae Joo's spacious, minimalist Tribeca space is city living at its best.

July 07, 2020

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

Photo By: Nicholas Glimenakis

A Designer's Dream

New York interior designer Jae Joo has seen the city from all angles. Three-and-a-half years ago, she and her husband, Devin, packed up their dogs, Jack and Declan, and made the move from a three-story Brooklyn brownstone to a two-bedroom, 2,200 square foot loft in Manhattan’s storied Tribeca neighborhood.

Take Your Time on Design

When Jae and Devin first moved in, this loft-style apartment was in pretty good shape. The pair decided to take a patient approach to making any changes. “It felt dated,” Jae explains. “We wanted to live in it first before doing any big renovations. The living room area was subdivided and felt dense, so we opened up all walls to allow for a large open living space.”

Living With Light

“I love the living room,” Jae confesses. “Every piece of furniture we have there is super comfortable which makes it a great place to hang out.” Pieces like the midcentury side chair and foot rest and throw-covered sofa confirm that this is a space engineered for maximum relaxation. “I also love that the arched windows have been there since 1881 and fill the whole house with so much light,” she adds.

Lots of Head Space

As an interior designer, Jae spends most of her time shaping spaces to her clients' tastes. Known for her special design talents when it comes to lofts as well as brownstones, it was a fun change when the choices were all hers in this personal space. “I lean mostly toward an eclectic style that is mixed with old and new. I like the lived-in feel rather than something overly precious,” she says. That style shines through in a space that mixes modern and midcentury with antiques and even a few busts thrown in for good measure.

The Power of Rugs

A small office just off the living room showcases more of Jae’s style and her love of mixing eras and genres. It also reveals one of her more cherished design features: rugs. “I didn't love the orange bamboo floors when we first moved in so I layered every single rug I had on top of each other,” the designer reports. “Many of the rugs I own were picked up while traveling. It's not easy shoving a 5x7 rug into your luggage to bring overseas but we've done it so many times that we can now do it pretty quickly.”

A Few of Her Favorite Things

One of the difficulties in moving from three stories to two bedrooms is choosing what to keep. Fortunately, the apartment had room enough for a few favorites. “The loft is completely open with a lot of dead space in the middle. Luckily we had pieces like my favorite 1920s credenza to work with.” To the right of the credenza sits another favorite. “I love my antique piano,” Jae beams. “It's from 1903 and my father-in-law gifted it to me on my birthday. It's been restored beautifully and sounds amazing. It's the first thing you see when you walk into our house.”

Open Yet Cozy

“What I love most about my home is that it's bright, comfortable and filled with things we love. I used furniture to create some depth and break up the overall sparse feel. Despite its openness, it always feels really cozy.” It seems that Jack and Declan would agree.

Dining With Art

The beauty of Jae’s eclectic style is on full display in this dining room. Mixing rustic dining furniture into an industrial space, the designer creates a perfect farmhouse moment in her Manhattan apartment. An asymmetrical gallery wall of watercolors, portraits and sketches is expertly arranged to keep the eye moving and create a sense of energy in this minimalist space.

A Quiet Spot

Jae’s office is a space for reflection, simply designed with her trademark mix of furnishings. The antique desk and small, framed portraits on the wall give the space a timeless, classic feel while the midcentury chair lends a sense of modernity. It’s a perfect mix to achieve Jae’s ideal aesthetic. “I prefer my projects to feel comfortable, timeless and stylish with a lot of personality,” she says.

Expansion Experts

Jae and Devin’s bedroom design is especially minimalist, giving off the kind of quiet, serene vibes we all want from our bedrooms. The wall art provides a moment of color and a contrast of pattern to the white brick wall. The use of white in the room is an intentional trick, designed to capitalize on one of the home’s best features. “We get a lot of light during the day from the big windows,” says Jae, “which is my favorite part.”

Built to Last

Incredible windows and the light they bring into the space are not the only stunning architectural features of this home. The living room also features a lovely brick wall that does a lot to define the character of the room. “Those were the features that really made me fall in love with the house,” says designer Jae. Getting the design right was less about changing the structure than about creating around what was already right with the space. “I mostly played around a lot with furniture to elevate the look,” the designer admits. “It ended up working out well.”

Old Meets New

“A lot of stuff I've collected over the years is displayed throughout the design and that keeps the eyes interested,” Jae says of her furnishings. Among Jae's favorite pieces are an impressive array of beautiful antiques and rugs that fit so seamlessly together it’s hard to believe they weren’t chosen specifically for this home. Those history-imbued pieces add character and depth to the space. “Every piece I have comes with a story,” she muses. “And I am so attached to them that even when things break from age, I can't seem to replace them easily.”

Shop This Look