A Designer’s Graphic Gray & Red Modern-Minimal Brooklyn Abode

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Name: Simone Tobias, designer/owner SIMONE TOBIAS swimwear
Location: Williamsburg — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1,250 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years

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Simone’s apartment, on the 29th floor of a tower that overlooks the East River and the Williamsburg Bridge, has some pretty impressive views, but if you visit you might be so taken with the things in her apartment that you hardly even notice the ones outside. Simone’s place is polished but also deeply personal, full of mementos from her travels, photos of things that inspire her, and reminders of people she loves.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

One of the most striking things about the apartment, besides the views of course, is the bold color palette of gray and red. In all my years of photographing spaces for Apartment Therapy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a color scheme so perfectly executed. The gray is soothing and sophisticated, and the red accents add a nice jolt of energy, especially in the second bedroom (turned studio), where Simone has collected her inspirations for her swimwear line. The collection, which is made in Brooklyn, shows the same attention to detail and eye for color that you see in Simone’s apartment.

In Simone’s bedroom, the gray that appears in the rest of the apartment (it’s the same color!) shades off to blue, which makes a lovely, soothing backdrop for a bed so perfectly dressed it could only belong to a designer.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would describe my style as intimately modern-minimal layered with tradition and accented with cultural/worldly influences. I don’t like decorative clutter, as I only want to surround myself with what is important. So I do have a few objects from my travels, as they remind me of the importance of being open to the world around me.

Inspiration: I know many people say that their home is a place they can escape to. This certainly holds true for myself. Having experienced many years of countless transatlantic and pacific flights, and sleeping in numerous hotels around the world, I have truly come to appreciate a quiet moment at home. A place that is wholly my space/style/ and sanctuary: away from it all!

Favorite Element: TEXTILES. Being an owner/designer for SIMONE TOBIAS swimwear, I work closely with fabrics, and I think of my home as an extension of my business and of myself. I decorate it as if I’m dressing myself. I love the transformative power of textiles. It’s a great way to add colors or textures. The same way I layer a sweater on top of a shirt and under a jacket, you can easily change your bed linens for summer with all white linen into fall with layers of plaid patterns. A simple, colorful cotton throw pillow on your sofa is a great nod to spring, and a fur or wool one for winter makes for cozy moments indoors.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Biggest Challenge: Keeping the apartment at a reasonable temperature given all of the windows. The apartment is a southeast corner unit on the 21st floor without any surrounding building, so I get sunlight from dawn to dusk. The views are amazing, but they come with a price. Shortly after moving in, I realized the constant heat from sun keeps the apartment warm and toasty in the winter, but feels like an oven in the summer. Not to mention its damaging effects to the furniture and floor. I had to figure out a way to cover all the windows economically, but at the same time, keep it stylish. I wanted the look of a beautiful overcoat, and these curtains certainly did the trick! They are made of window-paned wool flannel trimmed with brown grosgrain ribbon and then lined with white black-out lining. It took over 60 yards of fabric just for the living room alone!

Additionally, I had each glass pane treated with VISTA film to filter out all the damaging UV rays.

Finally, a ceiling fan! To keep the air moving!

What Friends Say: I really like RED a lot! And gray too. They do appreciate that I was able to create a home that’s in keeping with my modern-minimal aesthetic, but at the same time comfortable and intimate.

Biggest Embarrassment: Turning my second bedroom’s closet into a shoe closet.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Proudest DIY: My draperies. It took almost a year to make all of the window treatments, and I’m still working/tweaking even the ones that were supposedly done.

Biggest Indulgence: First let me start by saying — to have a second bedroom and no roommate is in itself an indulgence! But to turn the second bedroom’s closet into a shoe closet is even more so. For most of my adult life, I have stored my shoes in the same closet as my clothes, under my bed, and at some point, in my oven. So to have one space dedicated to my shoes is indeed indulgence galore.

Furniture wise, my custom-made upholstered headboard. At the time, there weren’t a lot of upholstered headboards on the market, and I really wanted to have a bed that looked like an over-sized vintage armchair — something you might find in a library somewhere in the English countryside. So I was able to have Safavieh build me a bed from an existing piece, modifying it with the characteristics that I was looking for: distressed leather and antiqued finished nail heads. It took them almost a year to complete the project but the final product is majestic. I figured the very little time I spend sleeping (5-6 hours) should be spent on a proper bed, so no expense was spared on this.

(Image credit: Simone Tobias)

Best Advice: I would give the same advice when someone asks me about what I think of his/her personal style: Make it PERSONAL. I sincerely believe in having a space that boasts of who you are as an individual. Having style is not a question of price or how much you can spend, but as a creative expression. Creativity comes in many ways, and it’s up to your personality to turn a space from an ordinary box into an extraordinary space.

Dream Sources:
Linens: Ralph Lauren Home, Matouk
Furniture: Knoll, Restoration Hardware, Safavieh, ABC Carpet & Home, IKEA (a good design is a good design), DWR, Flea Markets, Auctions..
Lighting: Ralph Lauren Home, Y-lighting
Paint: Benjamin Moore

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)
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ABC Carpet Cobble Hill “Carrol Garden” Sectional Sofa in Grey Wool Flannel, Ralph Lauren Home blankets in various patterns, Knoll Eero Saarinen side table in black marble, and Angelo Home storage bench in grey “trellis” pattern. (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Thanks, Simone!

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