Maxwell & Ursula's Light Rental Reno: The Cabinets

Maxwell & Ursula's Light Rental Reno: The Cabinets

Maxwell Ryan
May 20, 2013

Name: Maxwell & Ursula
Type of Project: Light renovation of a rental apt
Location: Soho, NYC
Type of building: Two bedroom apartment

I had a big unsolved issue for this project, which was how to get a compact bed into Ursula's room along with all the storage she and I needed in both of our rooms for clothing, etc. Then I ran into George Evageliou again after posting about his company back in 2007. He was literally in our offices dropping off his new cards, when I asked if he'd come take a look at this apartment. Within thirty minutes he'd convinced me to rip out all the old, funky closets and work with him to install cabinets in both rooms, one of which would carry Ursula's bed. That's when the fun began. 

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While it is admittedly a big commitment to build cabinets for a rental apartment, I did it for two reasons. One, I felt it would seriously raise the style level and storage efficiency of the apartment, allowing me to stay much longer, and, two, I really liked the idea of working with George to design the cabinets and get back to my design roots. I also worked with him to keep it as simple as possible. 

Over the past month he's been working on the plans with me and visiting the space as it has changed. Last week he began construction of the designs for the three pieces we've ended up with and which I TOTALLY LOVE. 

I will walk you through the designs below, while above you can see some shots of his team working in the studio out at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he has the most meticulous and organized operations I've ever seen (BTW that's George sitting in the little office, which is both dust and sound proof). 

This cabinet project has been a game changer. 


In the beginning you can see that both sides of the interior bedroom had very common closets. It was a lot of storage space, but it was closing in the room. George convinced me that with one big cabinet on the left wall, I could get rid of all of these and really open up the room. 

So.... I ripped out all the existing closet space...

And this is what it looks like right now with a nice open room and all the clothes sitting along the far wall waiting for a home. The space at the top of the wall is necessary for this to be a "legal" bedroom (I am told). While it's nice to get light into the room, we're going to cover it with a window for sound privacy. 

Below you see the wall unit that will cover the entire far wall. I worked with George closely to design something that is perfectly symmetrical and calm in appearance so as not to clutter the openness of the room. 

The unit has winter storage up top, a bench/nook in the middle and closets and drawers on both sides for clothing, linens and shoes (below, middle). The nook is going to be the focal point with a small lamp, cushion and, perhaps, curtains. 


This room needed storage and a bed, all in a tight space. We decided to make the bed a glorified window seat and have the storage go up high on the wall behind you as you walk in so that it wouldn't overwhelm the room. 

This is the room at the very beginning looking towards the window side where the bed will go. 

This is her room right now - with George measuring for the bed frame. We need storage as you can see. 

Here is George's design for the bed, which went through a number of iterations. We finally settled on a big, two headed bed with storage underneath. This will not only allow Ursula to sleep either way, it creates really nice facing sides for reading. 

This is looking back towards the doorway of that room, where all the clothing and book storage will go. 

George's plan here is to step the storage right up to the ceiling with drawers, hanging storage and then book storage. I am looking for an old wooded ladder that we're going to paint bright red to get to the top. 

Construction in George's studio will continue this week and then installation is the end of next week. I'll be back then with photos of the install, which is the last biggest thing I need to get done. 

For more of George's work, and I highly recommend him, check out his website at

(Images: Maxwell Ryan)

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