“This project really came about it the most unexpected way,” designer Gabriela Gargano recalls. “At the time I was selling an investment property in West Chelsea and trying to figure out the next location I wanted to invest in. After having drinks one night at Le Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels on Centre, I knew I found my area. It was still more Little Italy (vs Nolita) but you could see a few amazing places starting to pop up.” Believing this area would be the next NYC hotspot, Gabriela started tracking properties in the area with her now husband. “Rob and I were talking about moving in together. One night Rob saw me looking at this very unit, which had been sitting on the market for some time, and suggested we go and see it. It was over budget for each of us individually, but if we put our capital together we’d be able to afford it. Well, the rest is history!”

The 1850 square foot triplex had 3 beds and 2.5 baths, plus 2 private terraces and a roof top. It needed work — it lacked character and had low-grade finishes — but the space had so many great elements that Gabriela knew it would be impossible to find again. 

The designer was faced with an exciting challenge: combining her taste (eclectic contemporary) with Rob’s (classic luxury). “After doing some research, I thought something that combined our styles yet integrated some of the industrial elements would be a great mix,” she explains. “In terms of functional needs, Rob is an amazing cook so high end appliances and a full size wine fridge were both a top priority for him. For me, it was creating storage and increasing functionality, plus enhancing the indoor/outdoor spaces for better entertaining. To address all of this we focused our attention on a larger, chef-style kitchen, adding storage and symmetry throughout, and improving the layout of the master suite. After that, it was developing a style and color scheme that felt both chic and contemporary for a loft space, but would suit the taste of any one from a young family to a bachelor.”

At the time, Gabriela was still working in finance full-time, and while she’d renovated before, she had never done something of this scale. She recalls, “I actually tried working with a designer to help manage the process but I quickly realized that I had a clear vision of what I wanted and have a more intense project management style, so I decided to take on the design and project management myself. It was probably the best learning experience of my life, and one that has allowed me to become a much better designer, especially in terms of construction, for my clients.”
With any renovation, there were a few hiccups. “We had some very big challenges with the first contractor we hired. While it was a painful experience, it allowed me to learn a lot more about vetting contracted workers and I ultimately found wonderful partners that I’ve continued to work with — both Ecostruct (GC) and Maggie Weiss of Katonah Roots (exterior renovation).”
The end design is particularly inspired by the location. “Nolita is a bustling area, especially Mulberry Street, so I wanted to space to feel like a calm respite,” Gabriela says. “By keeping some of the authentic industrial elements but layering it with luxurious stones and soft fabrics I think we captured that feeling!”
Take a tour with Gabriela in the slideshow.