House Tour: Downtown Artists' Loft

House Tour: Downtown Artists' Loft

Amy Azzarito
Nov 24, 2008

Name: Max Miller, Carla Hoke Miller and LouLou the dog
Location: Downtown New York
Size: 2,500 sq. ft loft
Lived in: 15 years

This is one of those amazing spaces typifying a downtown New York City of 20 or 30 years ago, when downtown was the domain of artists. Max and Carla have made this place their own.

The entire loft is one enormous DIY project. The space was completely raw when Max moved in, and he built every single wall in the loft. Thrift store furniture has been painted and reupholstered. There's no stove, so Max and Carla make do with two burners, which doesn't stop them from entertaining.

Max paints abstract designs, portraits, and many other subjects, but he has become known for his animals paintings. He started by painting the family dog LouLou, and now is frequently commissioned to paint other pet portraits.

While Max paints on canvas, Carla takes her brush to furniture. Nearly every piece of furniture in the apartment has been painted and repainted by Carla. She rarely goes for a single color opting instead for funky color combinations and strips. Our favorite was the silver dresser with stripes. They also frequently repaint the floors. Carla loves white, but finds it difficult to keep clean. Friends still talk about when the entire floor was covered in the Wonder Bread dot pattern.

Update: The bike pulley system is $27.99 from the Container Store. Although it's intended for a garage, it seems to work equally well in a loft with 14-foot ceilings!


How would you define your style: Trial and error

What is your greatest inspiration: Color

What is your favorite element of your home: That it is of all of our own making, and that our tin ceilings are 14 feet high

What is the biggest challenge of your home: Making a rough artist's loft comfortable, livable, and functional without changing its essential character and purpose

What do friends say about your home: Every time we come here it is completely different—walls appear where there were none before—last time the kitchen was the bedroom and the bedroom was the closet!

What is your home's biggest embarrassment: No bidet!

What DIY project are you most proud of: Max's creation of walls of paintings hiding something-at times the bedroom and closets, right now the refrigerator—and the fact that I have painted nearly every piece of furniture we own

What is your Biggest Indulgence, when furnishing your home: Good paint, nice sheets, towels and blankets

Best Advice: Never be afraid to experiment with your own ideas

Other Inspiration: Anything Italian


Appliances: Pavoni coffee machine from Porto Rico, Breville electric teapot, baby blue Dualit toaster, Omega Juicer

Hardware:From Mr. Pang and Shirley at Walker Supply here and Knobs & Knockers in Ireland

Furniture: Knoll, Saarinen, Paulin, Stephen Whisler, family and found pieces Accessories: Alessi, Ceramica, Century 21, Daffy's, thrift stores and finds from travels, as well as great presents from friends and family

Lighting:George Nelson, Ikea, Levengers, Goodwill, Lendy Electic on Grande Street, and lampshades from Luxe and Just Shades

Tiles and Stone: Ideal Tile

Window Treatments: nylon and unbleached cotton curtain fabrics from Broadway Fabrics

Artwork: Max Miller, Lisa Hoke, Stephen Whisler, John Yardley, Louise Crandell, Tom Butter, Andre Marthfleur, David Anderson, Judy Stevens, Matthew Richie, John Huddleston, Jarrett Huddleston, and some unknown

Paint: Fine Paints of Europe (formerly Schroder's) brilliant finish in Van Gough yellow, blue horizon, delft blue, and white from Janovic; One Shot sign paint-Silver from pearl Paint, Benjamin Moore house and deck paint in tulip red from Janovich

(Thanks Max, Carla and LouLou!)

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