sneak peek: ellen hanson

it’s a big treat to get a look into the new york city apartment of interior designer ellen hanson. ellen is well-known for incorporating green design principles into her work – she writes about eco-conscious design in a column for 1st dibs called green scene.  it’s always fun to see what the professionals do in their own homes; ellen has plenty of tricks up her sleeves such as painting the entire space in a high-gloss white to create a mirror-like effect and effortlessly mixing high and low items. {thanks ellen!} -amy

[Several years into our marriage my husband Richard and I found, and fell in love with, an apartment that was smaller than our existing home and required clever use of furniture to create extra storage. In keeping with our idea of making an elegant urban nest, I had the entire apartment painted a high-gloss white including the ceilings.  The mirror-like finish makes the rooms feel larger and the ceilings seem higher than they actually are while the reflective black doors and ebony parquet all add to the urban blend.]

Ubiquitous and affordable subway tiles softened by vintage inspired cabinets give the galley kitchen a nostalgic feel.  The grey and white tiles look like marble but are actually ceramic which contains recycled content. We eat most meals at the little table from Ikea.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Ellen’s sneak peek after the jump!

Despite appearances this desk is not conducive to hard work. I would just sit and ponder the twisted pine tree!

The large armoire in the living room stores all of the bed linens and towels for what has been dubbed the smallest guest room east of Central Park.

While normally a masculine little den, when guests come to stay the narrow room barely allows the sofa to pull out to a queen-sized bed (leaving only inches to spare). A big shout out to the guy who invented flat screen TVs!

Our good friend Steven Gambrel designed this sofa covered in powder blue linen velvet. Surprisingly the more our Norwich terrier napped in his favorite spot on this couch, the better it looked – who knew?
Most meals are eaten in the kitchen at the table from Ikea but when another couple comes over there is casual dining for four by the fireplace. Table and chairs from Historical Materialism, Hudson, NY.
At the same time we were downsizing our square footage, we were expanding our collection of art. We have kept the first piece we ever bought as a married couple, a work on paper by Fernand Leger for $150 from Swann Galleries, while adding paintings, photography, and tribal art to the mix. To keep things from getting too serious here there are flea market finds throughout such as the ‘atomic’ pendant in the entrance and table top accessories mixed with precious family hand me downs.


I love the bedroom! Everything is so finished and clean looking! We’re in the middle of a remodel and it’s so nice to imagine someday ours will look as finished (hopefully)!

Lydia, Clueless Crafter

Great tip about starting an art collection. Works on paper are a perfect gateway into building a meaningful collection.

I go to Swann all the time and have so much fun getting up close to the prints and scoping out their overall condition!


So beautiful! Would you mind sharing what paint you used for the black doors?


So clean and beautiful! Would you mind sharing what paint you used for those stunning black doors?


Wow, gloss white paint and black doors takes balls! I love it! I love predominantly white homes with great art work…takes a real skill to make it chic and serene (which I think this one does) and not stark and uninviting. Inspiring!


I love the little dining area by the fireplace. And the wallcovering in the guest room (what is it?) And the black doors, of course.

Mary Beth

Beautiful home. I’ve been looking for tiles like those that you have in your kitchen–could you share the name and/or source for them?


Gorgeous! I will echo previous comments and say your home just looks so perfectly finished. A look that is hard to achieve for me b/c I never seem to fully realize a vision for a room or complete a project before I’m on to the next. Ellen, would you mind sharing the source/manufacturer of the kitchen tile? I love the idea of recycled materials that look like marble- and would love to incorporate that in my own kitchen. Thanks!


That powder-blue linen velvet sofa is supremely creamy…and the “work on paper” in the dining room makes me swoon. Simply beautiful apartment.


What artist did the paintings in the kitchen? They are so beautiful.


I reaaallly like this post. The kitchen, bathroom and floors are fantastic. Plus, its a little different look from the average DS post- a little more modernist- and I like that you guys are mixing it up!


beautiful – what is the dark flooring in the bedroom? – really love – thanks for sharing your home!


brilliant, thanks for sharing! can you please comment on the lovely curtains behind the pale blue couch?


Would you please share any information on your kitchen cabinets – I would like to remodel the kitchen of my 1940’s home one day and this is the look I want, but haven’t found yet. Thanks for sharing….


Beautiful artwork throughout. Love the big images in the kitchen and the branches over the fireplace, especially.
Well done design overall. Chic and serene.

Jeff Flemings

Perfection. I love that you allow the dog onto the couch. And I share your deep love of flat screen TVs. The black doors are wonderful too.


I love that you tiled the kitchen from floor to ceiling. The reflection off the tiles is great for bouncing light! Awesome!


What a lovely kitchen! What type of floor tile did you use? Is it marmoleum?


I’m in love with your kitchen! Esp the cabinets.

Amy, Grace, can we expect Ellen to reply to comments eventually? I keep checking back, but so far nothing….


Hi Percy, I’ve emailed Ellen, and she’s going to be getting back to us with answers! :) Thanks!


this is me as a house. amazing. i wish i worked with Ellen! Genius!


Hi D*S Readers
Ellen and I were so excited to see the comments piling up! Sorry to make you wait. Here are answers to the questions we’ve seen so far:

High Gloss Black Paint on Doors: We used HASCOLAC Brilliant Black Enamel creates a mirror-like luminescence (must be prepped exactly to manufacturer’s specifications.) For a low VOC option Fine Paints of Europe has a nice “eco-lacquer” product (Eurolux Interior Gloss) keep in mind nothing glosses up quite like oil based paints which, interior air quality aside, can last for a very long time.

Wall Covering in the Den: Philip Jefferies African Raffia Monaco Brown

Kitchen wall tiles- subway tiles NEMO TILE (NYC): white subway tiles 3 x 6, can also be found at most kitchen and bath resources

Kitchen floor tiles: for similar try American Olean Elemental Naturals Canyon Ridge line

Art in kitchen: Watercolor by Larry Zox- purchased at Youngblood in Sag Harbor

Dark wood flooring: Existing parquet floors were stained with Miniwax 50% Jacobean and 50% Ebony (test your mix in an inconspicuous place first!)

Curtains behind blue couch: China Seas Fiorentina (check the website

Where to find similar kitchen cabinets: Fully custom cabinets can be quite expensive from a vendor like Christopher Peacock but this old house recommends buying semi-custom cabinetry and having details added by a finish carpenter. A painted wood finish, appropriate door details and vintage inspired hardware goes far… ( for hardware )
thanks again!


This is gorgeous, and so thoughtful! Would you share your paint colors – specifically the whites you used throughout and the black doors?

Also, I’d love to get the name of the material you used for the kitchen flooring.

You did a marvelous job!


this is definitely one of my favorites too! lisa, where did you find the sofa with the red striped pillow? love it.


Beautiful overall. I’m especially fond of the kitchen and the art.


Hi Lauran
I believe Ellen found that pillow in Stockholm. A lot of the accessories in her home she finds at flea markets and antiques shops when visiting other places. If you search vintage feedsack fabric on ebay you can find some beautiful old red and white fabrics with a similar look or try Baileys Home and Garden (UK) for similar. The walls were painted in a glossy finish- ready mixed Brilliant White from Benjamin Moore


could you share the brand and color of cabinet paint in the kitchen. love it!!


The kitchen is so beautiful, and the dining room table is leaving me with significant envy issues.

Amy Daugherty

This has to be the way my home looks in my dreams. Seriously. I gasped when I saw the images. I just moved into my first home and I now have the perfect inspiration. Thanks, Ellen!


The color on the Kitchen cabinets is ‘Bone’ from Farrow and Ball. Sometimes photographs distort color so I recommend checking out all of their wonderful neutrals and getting a couple of small pots for $7 to sample before committing to a paint choice. The website is fantastically helpful!


this is beautiful, but it’s making me life. it reminds me of my life before children ;-)


Am I crazy or are the walls in the bedroom a very subtle gray? If so, what color and finish is it, please and thank you? If not, I’ll just adjust the contrast on my laptop!


This has to be the way my home looks in my head and my dreams. I now have the perfect inspiration. :)



hey, i’d love to see floor plans with these sneak peaks. I love to see how people use space – in fact, floor plans are my favourite view into homes!
thanks for this.


I concur, that kitchen is INCREDIBLE! Would it drive me to cook? Um, no. But I would smile every time opened a bottle of wine in there! LOVE IT!! So clean and pretty!