image of Tali Roth apartment

Tali Roth’s living room after her decoration.

With their cavernous, industrial spaces and sparse amenities, downtown NYC lofts are rarely thought of as ideal for family living. But after three months of searching for just the right home, Tali Roth knew immediately that the 3-bedroom Chelsea rental she found had everything she needed. As a designer for Homepolish, an NYC-based, end-to-end design service, Roth is used to transforming her clients’ spaces. But this time, she put her skills to the test to turn a barren rental into a warm and luxurious dream home — on an uncompromising budget. Book a free consultation with a Homepolish designer to create your own dream space, too.

Nothing Is Forever (Except a Rental’s Floor Plan)

When she began her search, Roth looked for homes in Greenwich Village and the West Village before realizing their old, small spaces would not work for her family. Still, the initial looking did help establish her priorities. “You rarely get it all,” she says. “If you are looking at a certain budget, know what is important to you, and know you have to sacrifice somewhere.” In a rental, “the floor plan is everything,” she advises, while extras like luxury finishes, storage, and amenities — elements that she could add or live without — were not important. By bringing in pieces like a large Ikea wall storage cabinet and customizing the handles and door fronts, Roth was able to add both necessary storage and the luxury details the apartment lacked. Meanwhile, a strategically placed gallery wall in the entryway helped hide “an ugly dropped ceiling” and bring character and warmth into the home. 

Follow the 90-10 Rule

Even with more than 2,000 square feet to fill, Roth knew the importance of being deliberate with what she chose to bring into her home. “I took longer to furnish the space, and made sure the pieces were either inexpensive and ‘just for this space,’ or were long-term investment pieces that will fit flexibly into all my future spaces,” she says. Investment pieces included a custom dining table and chairs, and a 1950s dark red rattan chair from Italy. She turned to West Elm for the linen curtains in her living room. “Be realistic with yourself and design a space that works with what you do 90 percent of the time,” Roth says — “not what you do 10 percent of the time.”

Let It Go

While Roth has a list of projects she would have undertaken had she bought the apartment (an updated kitchen and bathrooms are at the top of the list), she focused her resources on the projects she knew would make a big difference and would be easy to change — like swapping out the apartment’s generic lights for high-end pieces in the living room and master bedroom.

Finally, one of the most dramatic changes was one of the easiest to add: Roth created a decorative concrete wall finish from I-Faux in the living room. “It’s actually very simple, and is exactly like a paint application,” she says. It has the added benefit of being equally as easy to remove or paint over when she’s ready to move out. After a five-month design process, the loft feels like home, and Roth isn’t sweating what she can’t change: “When you rent, you learn to let the imperfections go.”

Learn more and book an appointment with Homepolish.
Photography by Genevieve Garuppo

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