In New York, where space is a commodity, making the most of a small living area is key to creating a comfortable environment. So when a Harlem resident decided to do a complete renovation on the 900-square-foot, 2-bedroom apartment he’d been in for over a decade, he enlisted the help of Jamel Williams at To Be Designed, a full-service design studio serving New York and surrounding areas.
Admittedly, the client didn’t know anything about design, so he relied on his designer’s expertise to create a vision. “I had a lot of free reign, but I strongly believe in using the process to help educate the client,” said Williams. “In showing the client options and schemes, I was able to get great feedback, which led me to choose some finishes over others.”
Williams said he started with a look at the existing finishes, which were original to the apartment and standard building grade. “The client was eclectic. The apartment needed to be an eclectic space and everything needed to be cohesive,” said Williams. “I started selecting materials and surfaces that were all intentional in making everything work together.”
Converting the kitchen from a closed space to an open one made the biggest impact in creating a brighter, more airy space. It also put the kitchen on display more than ever. Color and material choices became really important because there were all on view.
The kitchen design and color palette came together by starting with wood. “The client loves wood,” said Williams, noting that ebony parquet floors ran throughout the apartment. “But with wood floors already there, we were afraid a wood kitchen would be overkill. So I thought of the idea to do a rich, warm wood cabinet only on the bottom.” He then brightened up the space with white upper cabinets and added a deep and dramatic backsplash in a textured black. Alleanza’s Calacatta Bello completed the look for the kitchen counter surfaces.
An important element of the design was a waterfall kitchen counter. Williams needed a modern kitchen stone that was not only functional and durable but pleasing to the eye as well. “Since we opened up the kitchen, it became part of the dining and living room where the client spends a lot of time. I wanted to find something that almost acts as an art piece. This quartz had just the right amount of veining in terms of color and also in the look and how it comes down the waterfall. Not only does the client see it from the living room, where he spends a lot of time, but so do his guests when they walk in the door. It’s just so striking and elegant. It was the perfect mix.”
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He admits this is his first experience using Alleanza Quartz and he’s pleased with the results and the fact that it’s an affordable kitchen worktop. “I’ve seen the name but never had the opportunity to use it,” said Williams. “We looked at a few different types of quartz but none stood out the way I needed it to, especially with that waterfall leg. When I saw the veining on the Calacatta, it was perfect, and the pricing was right where we needed it to be. That allowed me to look closer at the company and realize Alleanza does a really quality product that looks good but also remains at a humble price point. It looks just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, installed than it did on the slab that arrived.”
Other design elements in the apartment included installing a custom feature wall in the living room with openings to showcase the client’s artifacts from his travels, an abstract feature wall in the primary bedroom and a spa-like bathroom, with a wood-look porcelain feature wall tile that reinforces the white with natural aesthetic found in the kitchen. By putting all of these thoughtful details in this small space, Williams was able to create the perfect apartment refresh for this client, who planned to live in the space for another decade before retirement and wanted to enjoy it.
But design wasn’t his first career choice. He started out wanting to be a doctor. “I did pre-med and realized it wasn’t for me. Then I realized that design and being an interior designer could be a full-blown profession and I sought the technical training I needed.”
He said his favorite part of design is the recreation in transforming a space, particularly kitchens and bathrooms.
“I love working with materials, the textures and colors. Design doesn’t mean you have to be rich. You just have to have the aspiration. Whether it’s moving around furniture, adding some décor, or changing a paint color, it’s about having a vision and bringing that to life.” [FIND YOUR STYLE]
STYLE THAT’S AUTHENTICALLY YOURS
Each person lives a different lifestyle. Every individual embodies a unique character and purpose. So, shouldn’t your home reflect your style? You can design your space to be authentic to you. See how homeowners are designing their lives on purpose with Alleanza Quartz. Watch the video here.