The condition of this West Village apartment was, in a few words, “a quick fix to put on the market,” designer Ahmad AbouZanat of Project AZ recalls. “The walls were light cream color, the kitchen had all dark cabinets, and all of the hardware was the standard go-to chrome finishes with very generic ceiling mount light fixtures.”

Ahmad’s clients were well educated when it came to design and aesthetics, and had a very specific project brief when he was brought on board. “Both like to cook and have homemade meals with small gatherings of friends and family,” he shares, explaining that the kitchen not feel crowded or cluttered was crucial. He changed all of the hardware to a sophisticated matte back, despite the high contrast with the rest of the finishes. “It became this primary focal point to draw one’s attention, and then take a backseat to be a background for the whites and neutrals allowing those to leave the lasting impression of comfort and serenity,” he says.

Also of major importance: 1/2 of the couple works in the medical field, so a space that would bring calming comfort after long shifts was key. A few items on their must-haves list were earthy tones and a warm feel — which the designer achieved with a few nature-inspired elements, like handcrafted wood furniture and natural woven flat blinds. In the living space, a tone-on-tone sofa and photography from the couple’s travels serves as a welcome respite from the busy city outside, while the bedroom is outfitted in neutrals and has thoughtful storage to keep clutter at bay.

This was the couple’s first time working with a designer, so there were admittedly some reservations — but no push backs. “A lot of clients push back on highlighting a contrast element that is against what they originally envisioned,” Ahmad explains. “We took careful steps towards featuring the matte black details everywhere. I knew this would help tie the space all together and give a cohesive look. Trusting the design process can be hard to achieve and I learned to not overwhelm my clients but instead help them understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. Nothing beats experiencing that first hand.”

Now, walking into the finished space, an overwhelming sense of calm envelops you. “This is an apartment on the 2nd floor in Manhattan on a busy street, achieving that serenity isn’t necessarily a walk in the park,” the designer laughs. “Also going back to the client’s brief, we ended up checking all the boxes of things they wanted to achieve. This is rewarding to all parties involved.”

See more of the project on Project AZ’s portfolio here.