Shell’s Renovated Lofty Studio

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Name: Shell Azar
Location: Greenwich Village, NYC
Size: Started with 420 square feet; increased to 520 square feet (not including outdoor terrace)
Years lived in: 6

Shell lives and works in this gorgeous studio space, which she recently transformed, with the help of architect James Vira, into an open and inviting place to call home. Materials are used in a way that’s true to their nature, giving the studio an invigorating and creative feel.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The first thing you’ll notice upon entering is how open and spacious the studio feels. Subtle, hidden storage locations abound, blending in seamlessly with the walls and contributing to the uncluttered feel of the space. Even the sleeping area is tucked away out of sight.

Shell’s space also has a strong connection between the indoors and outdoors, creating a delicate division that is very inviting. Her workstation is flooded with healthy sunlight that nurtures creativity and productivity. Shell’s studio is the ideal place to live and work and enjoy the city without ever having to leave the comforts of home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern Organic.

Inspiration: California Modernism, and the works of Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler, Mies Van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, Alvar Aalto, John Pawson, Richard Meier, Shigeru Ban, Peter Zumthor, Steven Ehrlich, Christian Liaigre, Steven Holl, Antonio Citterio, mlkstudio, Aidlin Darling, and Casey Brown Architecture.

Favorite Element: My Loft “Bedroom”, all the extra storage space I created throughout the apartment, and my hidden kitchen pantry

Biggest Challenge: Raising the ceiling high enough so that I could actually create a “Loft Bedroom” that wouldn’t feel claustrophobic once you were up there! The biggest reason for this renovation was to be able to add a bedroom element to the apartment that felt separate from the rest of the living space — this is a studio, so essentially all of your life takes place in one big room. I knew the only way to achieve that was to go vertically and create more space that way. We could only go so high, but I was determined to make it work. Every available inch (even down to the eighth of an inch) had to be considered. And there were many code limitations that we had to surmount and concessions that had to be made, not to mention really large structural beams that revealed themselves in unwanted places and threatened to interfere with the design concept of an “airy-feeling” loft space. So it was really a nail-biter up to and through that first trial night of actually sleeping in it, hoping that all the efforts resulted in the creation of a light, breezy, spacious enough, well-ventilated aerie and not a stuffy, stifling, oppressive, attic-like deathtrap. I am happy to report that it all worked out perfectly!

What Friends Say: The ones who knew what it looked like in its “before” state tend to be jaw-droppingly in shock at the transformation when they first walk in. The renovated space, with its much higher ceilings and open plan, gives the illusion that the apartment is MUCH bigger than before. One of my friends has coined it “Nordic chic”. Everyone loves it and some want to move in outright! Or at the very least, just cook in my new kitchen from time to time.

Biggest Embarrassment: I wouldn’t say “embarrassment” necessarily, but more disappointment in knowing what could have been if I had had the budget for it. All sorts of floor to ceiling millwork, rolling ladders, a wall of wood, etc. were part of the initial concept but I had to “value engineer” myself!

Proudest DIY: I conceptualized everything, so I’m really proud of all the results. The main things I was envisioning came to life. It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle that was so much fun to put together and I thank my architect, James Vira, for “getting it” and turning my concepts and drawings into functioning construction documents. It was a great collaboration.

Biggest Indulgence: My marble bathroom and the 2.5″ thick monolithic white Corian countertop in the kitchen

Best Advice: When you’re doing a renovation, be hands-on and keep a close eye on your contractor so you can catch mistakes before they happen and ensure that you’re getting exactly what you wanted.

Dream Sources: ABC, Conran Shop, Minotti, Fritz Hansen.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Resources of Note:


• Benjamin Moore “Super White” everywhere


• Glass w/metal-frame Closet Doors: IKEA

• Oak Wood Floors throughout: Werner


• Rug, Coffee Table, Sectional: CB2

• Lounge Chair – Custom – designed by me

• Pillows & Throw – West Elm

• Wood case goods – Crate & Barrel/IKEA

• Tall white-lacquered Storage Closets – IKEA

• White lacquered Parsons Desk – West Elm


• Kitchen Cabinets: IKEA (Hardware by others)

• Sink & Faucet: Blanco

• Refrigerator: Summit

• Gas Range: Verona

• Dishwasher: GE Monogram

• Microwave: GE Profile

• Floating Wood Shelf: Custom designed


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

• Duvet Cover: West Elm

• Table lamp: IKEA


• Calacatta Marble (Flooring & Bath/shower walls): Walker Zanger

• Custom Vanity: Bissonet

• Vessel Sink: Decolav

• Sink faucet: Cifial

• Medicine Cabinet: Kohler

• Bathtub: Duravit

• Bath & Shower Fixtures: Hansgrohe & Kohler

• Glass Shower Guard: Aqua Linea

• Toilet: Toto

Thanks, Shell!

(Images: Pablo Enriquez)

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