See How a Stager Transformed Classic NYC Co-Op into a Fresh, Modern Space

published Oct 19, 2022
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Credit: Courtesy of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes

A two-bedroom Manhattan co-op in a 1950s doorman building has a certain allure — particularly when it boasts a small outdoor space. You can probably imagine nights spent drinking cocktails while overlooking the glittering lights of the Big Apple, and busy mornings spent getting dressed before hustling out the door to grab a coffee at a bodega around the corner. 

But this apartment was part of an estate, and its style wasn’t quite living up to this vision. The co-op reflected its late owner, with antiques and family photos throughout the space. It had clearly been a well-loved home, perfectly styled to the previous owner’s tastes, but it needed a fresh, modern look to resonate with buyers. Above all else, it needed a layout update to open up the space and show how someone could live in this small but efficient home. 

To overhaul the dated and formal co-op, Cathy Hobbs of NYC-based Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes was brought in. An Emmy Award-winning TV host, “HGTV Design Star” finalist, and ASID Interior Designer, Hobbs has an eye for creating spaces that feel both luxurious and inviting — exactly the vibe needed in this unit that resides within a historic mid-century building with views of the East River. 

When staging, Hobbs asks the real estate agent who they think will purchase the home. For this particular listing, the potential buyer was seen as a single buyer or a young couple, perhaps with a small child. The styling has to reflect that buyer and, often, the first step is taking away rather than adding furniture.

“When it comes to staging, the philosophy is always ‘less is more,'” Hobbs says. “Potential buyers are purchasing the space, not the stuff, so it is important for them to see the ‘bones’ of a space as opposed to being clouded with clutter.”

Credit: Courtesy of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes

The unit had stunning natural light and a sense of elegance on its own, with crown molding and vintage-inspired parquet floors. Hobbs wanted to emphasize that through a soft, modern, and neutral color palette. She used warm colors to add an inviting feeling of coziness.

“I wanted the space to feel crisp and clean but not too cold, adding warm colors helped to achieve this balance,” Hobbs explains. Accents of mustard and black added more dimension and contrast to the subtle, neutral space.

When working in any home, but particularly a smaller space, Hobbs starts by grounding the room with a key foundation element. In this case, it was the sofa. She then builds the room around that base, adding artwork, accent furniture, and accessories. In this multi-use living space, she carved out a dining area for four, and used a smaller scale sofa and one accent chair to give the seating area a sense of openness. Just a few intentional pieces of artwork make the space feel upscale, while metallic touches and mirrors throughout the space reflect light and add to its luxe look.

Credit: Courtesy of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes

This elegant co-op was listed just after Labor Day and, if you’re on the market for a two-bedroom in a doorman building for under $900,000, you’re in luck. You can find the listing here.