Though they’ve just set up shop in Los Angeles, the Novogratz are happy to call the Big Apple home once again—and not just because the city has better bagels. When celebrity designers Robert and Cortney moved back to New York with their seven children, they were reunited with their East Coast family—specifically, Cortney’s sister Brandi.
Brandi’s two-bedroom apartment was due for an update, and Cortney was eager to help her bring new life to the space. With Robert’s keen eye for art and Cortney’s ability to always source the perfect vintage piece, the pair filled the space with modern heirlooms, punchy art pieces, and bright pops of yellow—an ode to Pantone’s Color of the Year. Finally, selections from their boutique-inspired furniture line added the perfect level of comfort and cool-factor.
The space is bright, joyful, and fun—Novogratz-style to a T! In a recent (virtual) chat, the pair told us more.
Tell us about Brandi’s apartment. Where exactly is it, and did the neighborhood influence the design?
This is a two-bedroom apartment in Soho, which is a diverse neighborhood with a lot of history. The apartment is a place that was meant to work, live (for Brandi and her family), and hopefully soon, entertain, so it had to be multi-purpose. The apartment is flooded with light, so we wanted a spacious, airy, and frankly cheerful environment, especially important since this apartment redesign was completed at the height of the pandemic. We used wild pops of color (especially yellow!) and lots of furnishings from The Novogratz Collections.
Cortney, what was it like working for your sister? Did she give you any guidelines or did you have carte blanche?
My sister and I collaborated on the design pretty closely. It was a lot of fun, especially when we started laying out all of Brandi’s old photos and art over the years for the art wall in the living room. Brandi was very open to our ideas, of course, and we created a space that worked for everyone in the family, during the pandemic and for life “after.” We started by replacing the flooring, using The Forest, one of our hardwood home products. That made a huge difference. We used some of Brandi’s existing pieces and we added a lot of new Novogratz products along the way.
How would you describe the overall aesthetic of the apartment?
The apartment is eclectic, and it is a bit whimsical. And as always, a Novogratz mix of high and low! But it is equally utilitarian. Both husband and wife are accomplished cooks, so the kitchen is the center of the household. Many fabulous meals had been cooked in the old kitchen, which needed replacement. It was just worn out. And we had to make it open so family and friends can hang out while the cooking is accomplished. The island bar is perfect for that! The new stove and appliances really made a difference in every way. The cooks are really enjoying the new stove. And it was meaningful to us, to improve Cortney’s sister’s home. They are very close, and it was a real treat to do this. She and her husband are in love with the new set up, and the new kitchen has been put to good use!
What condition was the apartment in at the start of the project? What rooms saw the biggest transformation?
This apartment falls into the category of “hardest to design”. The original home was dated but in decent shape. The floors really needed to be replaced, so we spent a big part of the budget there, along with the kitchen, which is the focal point here. This is where the major “living” goes on in most homes, and this home is no exception. We of course love a gut renovation because it gives the designers the chance to make sure everything is done correctly right from the start, but this apartment did not need a complete redo to make the family happy and comfortable. This redo made the home more functional and definitely more stylish.
Brandi just loves the chic library design, and it has become her favorite element of the home. Our yellow Alva chairs look really incredible there! We love, love, love the pink lights we found over the kitchen island!
Are there any other pieces you feel really make the space?
Our favorite aspects of this redesign are the floors, the bright yellow chairs (which were perfect for space in the library nook and the living room), and a fab piece of Ann Carrington art over the bed in the master bedroom. The apartment, which was nice but undistinguished before, really sings now and it is a perfect lesson to all of us that we can vastly improve our homes just by changing things up a bit. We have learned that lesson while living in a rental house while we gut-renovate the Pink House, a two-hundred-year-old, iconic building in Greenwich Village, just a few blocks away. With a new coat of paint, some brightly colored pieces and accessories (like the bright yellow storage locker in the kitchen area), and a few pieces of art can really change the look of your home.