before and after

before & after: cozy + modern home redesign

by Kate Pruitt

Everyone has a different opinion on how to decorate, but I feel most would agree that the combination of crisp white paint and warm, natural wood is a match made in heaven, right? They play off each other to provide a neutral backdrop that any color would look great against, plus they make a room feel bright, spacious and modern but also cozy, rustic and textural — all at the same time. Interior designer Michael Wood uses this magical pairing in great ways throughout this entire home renovation. My favorite elements in this space are numerous, but I especially love the black staircase, sage tile backsplash in the kitchen and the elegant new bathroom. Beautiful work, Michael! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Learn more about this NYC home renovation after the jump!

Time: 8 months (not including planning and waiting for permits)

Cost: $220/sq. ft.

Basic Steps: The client is a young hedge fund manager, so his workday starts early and is very fast-paced. He wanted his home to be a retreat from typically hectic days that was warm, soothing and inviting yet modern, elegant and somewhat minimal. We developed a concept of “warm, minimal, inviting, contemporary,” which informed our selection decisions at every step. The space was a real challenge, however. I don’t believe there is a single 90-degree angle in the place. It was also very dated with cheap 80s lighting and finishes. Further, there were some tremendous challenges with several “dead space” areas, such as the loft that had an immovable 28″ high platform protruding through most of the area.

My advice is to establish a clear concept and STAY on concept. Don’t over-embellish things — let the subtleties speak for themselves. And embrace obstacles; don’t avoid them. The loft is a perfect example of a space that no one wanted to touch, and yet somehow, [we] saw the potential immediately. — Michael

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  • Wow.. when can I move in? I love the walnut and white combination with grey and slight touches of color. Modern but with so much warmth at the same time. The kitchen redo is lovely, I wouldn’t think of recessed lighting in a kitchen, it worked out wonderfully. The bedrooms looked especially challenging, I love how built-ins and thinking outside the box with how the furniture was angled solved the narrow limitations of the space.

  • Wow! Way to turn a weird, and chronically dated space into a masterpiece. Your right about the loft. I would have turned and ran, but you made it absolutely beautiful!

  • – Love them all !!! We have a small space too , and looking at your new space makes me treasure ours even more …

  • I want to live there, too! The shot of blue in the bathroom is genius. Good job with the before/after pics, too! =)

  • Absolutely beautiful..what a vision. Would love to know the paint they used on the bedroom. The purest of whites. Thank you.

  • Wow! What a stunning remodel! My house is full of colored walls (not a single white one), but I love all the white. It makes me want to go all white at my house, but not sure the end result would quite the same!

  • This is amazing. It is very stream lined and i love how the space was solved by using unique ways of design and problem solving. Stunning, just absolutely stunning.

  • Such a SMART renovation … it is beautiful and simple and modern, but the use of the space is genius. Love how Michael solved the issue with the immovable platform in the loft. And both the kitchen and bathroom look like they’ve doubled in size!

  • Beyond stunning. Expensive, but it could be done with a similar look and feel on a budget too.

  • Why, why do people always have to cheat by submitting crappy before-pictures (fuzzy, weird angles, bad light…)? It must mean the afters can only convince by comparing them to something extra-horrible,right?

    • sandra

      i’ve gone over this about a hundred times, but to reiterate, people don’t do these projects with design*sponge in mind. if they happen to take a before shot, it tends to be a quick shot. it’s human nature to want the final version of a makeover to look good, so they normally work hard to make the after look good.

      when a project is done exclusively for a blog or magazine, perhaps you’ll get a “styled” before shot, but these are all reader submissions. they’re doing their projects for their own purposes and enjoyment- they’re not sitting there thinking “oh man, i better make this before shot look good for design*sponge readers”. so please try to keep that in mind. no one’s cheating or tricking anyone. if you think the after isn’t good, that’s fine, but the before picture is never an intention to cheat or trick. it’s the nature of a working project to focus on the process and the final product rather than styling a gorgeous shot of what you don’t like and are trying to improve.


  • Wow. It looks like a really unusual interior – lots of weird angles and that bedroom which had a platform?!? Well done in transforming the space into something beautiful.

  • i am doing a kitchen remodel (on a dime) right now, and i plan to invite my professional photographer friend over when i am done to take some shots (in exchange for food and drink)–but i certainly would not have asked him to waste his time with before pics. i took care of those myself… quickly, on my phone cam, just before wielding a sledgehammer to attack the old countertops. i nearly forgot to take photos at all.

  • Gorgeous, gorgeous make-over. If you’re going to redo a truly oddly shaped place, this is the way to go about it.

    Question: What IS that finish used on all the wood in the house? The pattern is clearly artificial, but how/where did you get it?

  • If this makeover does not win awards, I will be shocked. Stunning from top to toe. When can I move in.

  • I’m absolutely in love with this before and after. Clever use of space and just plain perfect! Great job!

  • It’s amazing to me how interesting the space was “before” without looking better than it did. A lot of the interior architecture of the space is really incredible, what a great vision the remodellers had for it!

  • OMG gorgeous, incredible transformation. And such a smart way to handle all of those tricky angles, beams and posts. Amazeballs! I am, as we speak, trying to find those hallway light fittings.

  • awsomely cool!!! how hard it must have been to work with such a difficult architecture! absolutely great work! of course most of the pics are a little bit too tidy, which makes the place look a little “not-lived”. but the style is great and full marks for the imagination and the whole project! love it!

  • I’m usually a lurker and never commented..EVER. But THIS… just makes me want to cry. Absolutely beautiful! My mouth dropped. I absolutely ADORE the kitchen and the living room area. Just.. my word… EVERYTHING is beautiful!

  • To follow up on my above comment regarding how the “after” images looked like renderings, I discussed it with a colleague and went to the firm’s website to look at their other projects. I’m 99% sure these images are computer rendered — The giveaway being the same artwork and objects such as eyeglasses appearing in multiple projects (I just spent 3 years in architecture school learning how to place mesh objects such as these in 3d models). Very beautiful and impressive renderings of a well thought out design, but the images above appear to be of a proposed space. It seems misleading to show this project as an actual before and after.

  • Re: the comment above.

    I can assure you that the images submitted for this segment are NOT renderings nor are any other images on our website.

    In your next architecture class you may want to ask if any objects/art are ever repurposed for photoshoots. Certainly, when editing a photograph we often use photoshop to “erase” minor distractions such as outlets or devices but we do not digitally recreate our work. Thus, a more accurate estimate would be that 99% of the images are real with only 1% being manipulated.