Light and Bright on NYC’s Lower East Side

After almost twenty years living in a crumbling tenement building on New York City’s Avenue C, food stylist Toni Brogan and her husband decided it was time for a change. The couple embarked on a six-month long apartment hunt before they found this building in the Lower East Side. The building was constructed in the early 1950s by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (ACW) and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) as affordable equity cooperative apartments. Their favorite aspect was the building’s proximity to the recently restored East River Esplanade and the apartment is on the 16th floor, which gives it amazing views of the East River and of downtown skyline. With only one other owner, the apartment was in desperate need of some upgrades. The couple completely gutted and modernized the bathroom and kitchen, the entire apartment was fitted with new baseboards and more electrical outlets and they refinished the original parquet floors and stained them a dark walnut color. Once the architectural details were taken care of, it was time to think about decorating. Toni wanted the apartment to be an eclectic mix of old and new – filled with pieces she’s collected or made. As a professional food stylist, she’s worked with many great photographers and her walls are filled with their work. Thank you, Toni and a big thank you to Kana Okada for the lovely photographs! –Amy

Image above: The couch is the good ole solid Petrie Sofa from Crate & Barrel, it’s comfortable, wears well and we liked it so much I bought a second apartment-sized one to make an L-shaped seating area. I made the little lumbar pillow from vintage Mexican serapes and is available on my etsy store.  I had been scouring eBay and various online stores for a rug when this green turkish kilim popped up, and it seemed the perfect accompaniment to our collection of green artwork. The tortoise shell photo is by NYC Photographer Kana Okada. The Buffalo photo is by NYC Photographer Steve Giralt. The Cords painting is by Brooklyn Artist Eric LoPresti. The Franco Albini rattan ottoman was an $80 eBay score.  I have had two similar vintage slatted benches for years. They both were in bad shape and have almost been tossed out multiple times, but I sanded and re-stained them and they look good as new.

Image above: I didn’t want a lot of upper cabinets, and liked the idea of open shelves.


See more of this Lower East Side apartment after the jump!

Image above: My favorite kitchen items are my collection of bowls from Stephanie Basralian. She makes simple, modern but earthy pieces which are then wood-fired, giving the outside glaze a unique effect from the wood, ash and salt. The octopus and feathers print is by Hallie Burton and was part of a “sea creatures” food story we worked on together. Bunny with Girl is from British artist Kate Corder. The little olive tree is another leftover from a photo shoot.

We removed this wall between the kitchen and living room to open the space up.  The  Ceasarstone countertop in Blizzard is 90 x 44 and can fit 8 people comfortably around for dinner! The cabinets and counters are Ikea, drawer pulls from Design Source on the Bowery in NYC. The turquoise pendant lights are Verner Panton. The grey stools are from Crate & Barrel and the Tabouret Limeade metal stools are from The little orange tree was another leftover from a photo shoot where I needed orange leaves.

Image above: My husband’s father was a painter in the ’60s. We (rather unimaginatively) call these paintings “Broom” and “Rolls,” respectively. They are dated around 1969.  The sheepskin was lugged back from my recent trip to New Zealand.  And I made the pillows  from vintage mexican saltillos.


Image above: The ebony and mahogany chessboard is something I picked up when I traveled through Africa in my twenties. It’s the only remaining item I have from this time period. The Eyes (mixed media) are by NYC Artist David Hochbaum and the Orange Still Life by American Artist Katie Trinkle Legge.

Image above: The Vietnamese chair is from One King’s Lane with authentic New Zealand sheepskin. Gold Marc Jacobs bag (generally used as a laundry bag). The Japanese Girls on Whiskey Cask iix by NYC Artist Michael Sanzone and Woman (mixed media) is by Irish Textile Designer Helen James.

Image above: The blanket is one of my knitting projects.  The George Nelson Bubble Lamp from Ylighting. The Photographs above the bed are part of a 4-part series that I did with Kana Okada, where we created a series called “Food Blocking” using only foods of the same colors grouped together, in brown, silver, white and black. You can see this work in more detail on my professional site.

Image above: The original bathroom was a crumbling mess of Pepto Bismol pink and black tile. The only original detail I saved was the bathtub which was reglazed, and I was amazed with the results.  I wanted the space to be modern, clean and classic and used a combination of subway tiles and penny tiles with light grey grout. Recessing the medicine cabinet into the wall, installing a tankless toilet and floating sink, gave the small space an airy feel.

Image above: New York in 1729 print on canvas found in Hudson at Lili and Loo.

  1. fiona duke says:

    love the blue pendant lights…..i’ve just sprayed my stainless steel bulb lights like these in orange but i’m now thinking i may need to pop out and purchase a can of blue !!!!!

  2. kim says:

    Holy cow, your place is gorgeous. I really love your knitted blanket, not to mention all the original artwork.

  3. Kimberly says:

    Is that the George Nelson Bubble or Cigar? It looks more like the Cigar Sconce? I love it, whichever one it is.

  4. Emmy says:

    Beautiful! Crisp clean white with personal touches- love it. Neat art arrangement in the living room.

  5. Laura says:

    I love the barstool seating solution- and it seats 8! Cool! Also love the glass wall on the tub- I was trying to tell my husband about that concept just yesterday.

  6. leaca says:

    love all the art work. swooning actually.

  7. Cuero&Mør says:

    Beautiful house!! Love how they did to give personality to the house, we´re doing a project in our studio that has similar features than this one!! A lot of light and whites with lightly touches of color…the perfect combination!!

    We share some of the projects we do in our blog to help inspire others!! :)

  8. vanessa says:

    Very cool. You have a fantastic way of displaying your art on the walls.

  9. Vika says:

    Lovely home, so many inspirations. I love the idea of contrasting sofas, and of course all the art. Are all the squares on the blanket new pieces or repurposed? I have quite a few sweaters that I am saving till the muse strikes! Also (this may sound silly), of all the things–can you please tell where the ceiling fixture(s) came from the kitchen? The white ones. I am looking for something just like that to replace ye olde “boob” light fixtures in my kitchen. Thank you!

  10. Preeti says:

    How simple yet stunning place!

  11. Vania Pinto says:

    Clean, calm and incredibly beautiful!

  12. Amalia says:

    Thanks for sharing! Your house is beautiful and inspiring. Could anyone let me know where I could purchase a Steve Giralt buffalo photo?

  13. nadine says:

    Really nice apartment! hi. wondering who measured/installed the ikea cabinets?

  14. I am an artist and like very much your apartament. I travel to NYC frequently and
    I would like to know if you rent it for a few days or exchange for another departament in Buenos Aires
    I can send pictures of my apartament if you want.
    Best regards,

    Maria Luz

  15. toni brogan says:

    Hi, thank you all so much for your lovely comments regarding my apartment…
    Kimberly.. the George Nelson handing lamps are the Cigar ones.
    Vika.. the blanket I made from scratch with new knitted squares with varying knit/purl patterns for texture. each square is about 8.5 x 8.5 inches. Also the kitchen ceiling fixture came from they have a great range and not too expensive.
    Amalia.. I emailed the photographer Steve Giralt regarding prints.
    Maria Luz… thank you for your interest at this time my husband and I haven’t really considered renting.. if this changes I would let you know :)

  16. toni brogan says:

    Hi Nadine, my contractor measured and installed the ikea cabinets.. but I had a clear idea of what I wanted and Ikea has a neat program you can do a 3D design of your kitchen so you get a really good idea of what it will look like.

  17. Charlotte says:

    Beautiful, calm and interesting. So perfect. What is the source of the shelf with the chessboard on it? Thank you!

  18. Steve Giralt says:

    Hi Amalia,
    Thank you for your interest in my photos. Go to my website you can find my email address there to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss a print sale with you.


  19. toni brogan says:

    Hi Charlotte, the shelf is from, i bought it second hand off a friend who was moving..

  20. Thank you for crediting my eye pieces. It is a pleasant surprise when folks give the proper credit when posting images. I am happy to see that my work from back in the day are still getting up on walls and being enjoyed. Your home looks lovely.

  21. Amber says:

    I love how light both the bathroom and kitchen feel. Love the kitchen backsplash!

  22. Tina Rupp says:

    The place looks amazing, so nice to see it finished! Gorgeous photographs!

  23. psychopooch says:

    Love the renovations done to your place! Just wondering, who did you use to reglaze your tub? We’re in the process of sourcing materials/vendors for our reno right now and we have the same exact tub and trying to decide if we want to reglaze or replace. What made you decide to keep the tub? We’re leaning towards reglazing but our contractor is pushing for a replacement. Is any type of special care needed for a reglazed tub?


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