Apartment Makeover: A Sleek and Creative Brooklyn Apartment

After photo vs. Modsy 3D rendering: almost identical!


Daniel Saponaro, owner of the women’s clothing company Hutch, has always loved the Brooklyn apartment he shares with his husband Kyle Hutchison, a senior vice president at a higher education consulting firm. They enjoy the ideal location, the 1,050 square feet (palatial by New York City standards) and the beautiful tree-lined street. For the past nine years, Daniel knew he wanted to refresh the space, and kept the ideas tucked in the back of his mind.

He says, “Because we had been living there for so long, it was pretty easy for me to determine what would elevate the apartment to make it livable for the long term. We had been thinking about it for years, so I was ready!”

Before the makeover, Daniel could envision “calm, clean lines, pops of white and color” and a “modern feel with a homestyle comfort.” As a visual person, he was able to see the layout and décor, but his husband was struggling with picturing the final product. That’s when Daniel turned to a web-based modeling service called Modsy which helped the couple visualize and style the space. They create 3D renderings of a space that end up looking nearly identical to the completed renovations (as seen here).

  • 01 of 06

    Before: A Bit Lackluster

    Before apartment makeover
    Daniel Saponaro

    Luckily, when Daniel and Kyle set out to remodel their apartment, they were working with good bones. The building was built in 1932 using repurposed brick from the original Waldorf Astoria hotel. Since their apartment was so “well-maintained” and had a “rich history” as Daniel says, they made it a goal to modernize the apartment.

    The couple sought to overhaul the apartment’s dated, pre-war features, such as the molding around the doors that had been covered with countless coats of paint, old-fashioned archways, a lack of overhead lighting and walls that prevented an open layout.

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  • 02 of 06

    After: Lively & Bright

    After photo of apartment renovation

    After renovating an astounding 80% of the apartment, it’s light, fresh and airy. Several of the walls were torn down and the original doors were replaced. Doorframes and moldings were kept, going through a week-long treatment that stripped all of the layers of paint down to the original metal, which had been oxidized, creating an eye-catching marbled look. The natural light was maximized with overhead recessed lights. The floors were stripped down and now feature a stain that complements the new cabinetry. And the layout was completely changed, opening up the kitchen to allow for an island with seating. The process took around two months, and today, the two couldn’t be happier with the result.

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  • 03 of 06

    After: An Inviting Space

    Brooklyn apartment renovation

    Daniel says, “I wanted to make sure the apartment felt new, modern, clean, crisp, accessible, bright and good for entertaining. I believe we achieved it.” And achieved it they did, with a new dining area that’s perfect for fun gatherings. A classic walnut table brings depth to the breezy space, complete with vibrant decorative items that act as conversation pieces. The Joseph Bradley artwork dotted with joyful yellow finches acts as a decorative anchor.

    “The first thing everyone says when they walk in is how huge the apartment feels,” Daniel says. “At 1,050 square feet, the apartment was already large by New York standards, but moving away from the model of each room being sectioned off really allows you to showcase the scope of the floorplan. Additionally, placing the paintings and art as we have creates varied interest visually that helps draw your eye to the furthest point and then back again to something else.”

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  • 04 of 06

    After: Charming Details

    Charming details in apartment renovation

    The couple even turned to their kitchen as an opportunity to show off some personality, with artistic décor pieces resting on chic shelving. The Anthropologie Wishbone Brackets bring a hint of character to otherwise standard shelves. A sense of playfulness is experienced through these pieces of art, like the delightful chicken artwork created by Trevor Mikula.

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  • 05 of 06

    After: Contemporary Cool

    Cool apartment rental

    The apartment flawlessly brings together eclectic styling. Midcentury details live comfortably beside the trends of today, which can be witnessed here in these Pottery Barn Cube Display Shelves. The white walls and light-colored furnishings put the spotlight on the cheerful décor and artistic objects.

    Daniel says, “I knew that I wanted the apartment to be grounded in neutrals, so we settled on two shades of natural ivory—one slightly darker than the other. Adding in the high gloss bright white enabled all three colors to stand out on their own and allowed the white to be its own ‘pop’ color in addition to our other pops of real color.”

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  • 06 of 06

    A Home Made for Displaying Art Collections

    Art collection in apartment rental

    The centerpiece of Daniel and Kyle’s apartment is undoubtedly their many art collections. Since the makeover, the open floorplan and neutral palette naturally invite color and creativity to be splashed across the walls.

    Daniel says, “I’m definitely drawn to color and balance, but we have some pieces that are kitschy and mod that really make us feel great.”

    He adds that when renovating the apartment, one of his top goals was to be able to display his extensive collection of over 25 teapot sets created by the potter Darin R. Gehrke. “We’ve been collecting his work for about 10 years, and I believe I have the largest collection of his teapot sets,” Daniel says. The pieces are artfully displayed on Restoration Hardware’s 1930’s French Bistro Shelving alongside a jovial piece of wall art crafted by Keith Grace.

    Daniel’s love for fashion and art can now flourish in the refreshed apartment, along with the interests and collections he shares with Kyle. As Daniel says, “My favorite thing about the apartment is being able to showcase our interests in art, pottery and design and still maintain a lived-in feel to our home without it feeling like a stiff, perfectly-placed museum.”