Good things come to those who wait…especially when it comes to real estate. Interior designer Maggie Burns of Maggie Richmond Design can speak from experience. “My husband and I started looking for a new home in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit, as we knew we’d be trying to expand our family in the near future,” Maggie says. “We had originally planned on moving to Brooklyn to get more space and ideally a townhouse or space with more than one floor. As someone who grew up in the suburbs, I liked the idea of having a separate floor for living versus sleeping.”

After a long, fruitless search, the couple nearly gave up. And then the perfect duplex appeared, just blocks from their old neighborhood on the Upper East Side. “We instantly fell in love,” she recalls. “It hadn’t been touched since the early ‘60s and was dying for some design TLC!”

Since the space hadn’t been updated in decades, the designer had her work cut out for her. “We opened up the tiny galley kitchen downstairs to create one large open concept room. While it isn’t typical of a classic Upper East Side apartment to have a more open concept layout, it was more functional for our family as we can all gather in different areas of the room but still be together,” she explains. Once the renovation was underway, they found out they were expecting a second son, so plans had to adjust. “We wanted to add a third bedroom upstairs, so there was a lot of moving walls and doors to make that happen. We also expanded the primary bathroom to add a freestanding tub in addition to the shower.”

Maggie admits that designing for her own family—versus a clients’—has pros and cons. “On the one hand, I’m used to doing design projects and renovations so I knew all of the stressors and complications that can inevitably come along with that,” she says. “On the other, I know how many options are out there and how many design directions I could take the space in, so it was a bit tricky to narrow down my vision for how I wanted the home to feel. I tried to give myself time to come up with a plan for each space, but then once I’d made a decision, I pushed myself to stick with it and not second guess!”

The project took roughly six months of planning, six months to renovate, and another six months for furniture and finishing touches. Ever the designer, Maggie knows it will continue to evolve. “I definitely don’t consider it complete yet. There are still a few spaces I’d like to paint and add accent wallpaper, and my furniture wish list is always growing!”