6sqft’s ongoing series “My sqft” checks out the homes of New Yorkers across all the boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to the Chelsea apartment of food writer Lauren Shockey and hedge fund analyst Ross Fabricant. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!
When they started apartment hunting a few years ago, then newlyweds Lauren Shockey and Ross Fabricant knew they wanted to stay in Chelsea. But they also knew they wanted a place with character and with a layout conducive to cooking and entertaining, as the couple loves hosting dinner parties for their friends and Lauren is a food writer (you may recognize her name as the Village Voice’s restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012 and as the author of the culinary memoir/cookbook “Four Kitchens“). When they happened upon this two-bedroom co-op in a historic Art Deco building, they fell in love with its architectural bones, as well as its brightness, openness, and opportunity for customization. Inspired by the calming, clean aesthetic of hotel design, Lauren and Ross completed a surprisingly smooth renovation that left them with a contemporary home full of colorful, personal touches.
The painting above the table was Ross’ from before he met Lauren. They like how it “reflects the dining ambiance.”
“As you can see, we have quite the extensive cookbook collection,” says Lauren. “Having dinner parties with our friends is something we really enjoy doing in the evenings.”
How did you two meet?
Lauren: We met at a New Year’s Eve party in 2013. I was with a friend of mine from high school who brought me to a house party thrown by one of her college friends, and Ross was there. We hit it off and went on our first date the following week!
What drew you to this apartment and how did you find it?
Ross: We really like the open, loft-like layout, which is an interesting aspect for a pre-war building. We also love the light–every room, even the kitchen and bathrooms, has a window and we’ve got east, south and west exposures, which floods the apartment with light during the day. There are some really cool architectural details to the apartment as well, such as the sunken living room and the Art Deco cornices. We also really like the building’s communal roof deck, which is outfitted with potted plants and lounge chairs.
Lauren: We had been using a broker to look for apartments, but my mom had actually seen this listing online and so we asked our broker if we could see it. The apartment was empty and wasn’t in the best condition when we saw it, but we could see its potential.
They chose the white subway tiles because they reflect the early 1930s history of the building.
The bathrooms hadn’t been updated since the 1950s. For the renovation, Lauren said they were inspired by “calming, luxurious hotel bathrooms that were clean and simple and had a white color palette.” In the master bathroom (bottom image), they added large Carrera marble tiles and the glass panel like you see in a lot of hotels.
Tell us a bit about the renovation. Where there any unexpected challenges?
Lauren: The main focus of the renovation was redoing the two bathrooms, which were in pretty bad shape (think original tiles and a giant metal tub stopper located next to the tub). We also did some minor cosmetic work, including re-sanding the floors, painting the whole apartment and changing the backsplash in the kitchen. We also swapped out what was a barn door separating the dining area from the master bedroom to a pocket door, which streamlined the space. Overall it took about four months to complete the renovation process.
Ross: There weren’t necessarily unexpected challenges, but we initially had plans to move the positioning of the bathroom fixtures to maximize space, but then we learned that moving fixtures like sinks and toilets would require additional permits, which, in turn, would lengthen the renovation time and increase costs. So we ended up doing a more cosmetic renovation, keeping all sinks, toilets, and tubs in their same place.
The built-ins were there when Lauren and Ross moved in. “It originally seemed like an incredible amount of storage space, but we quickly filled them,” said Ross.
Do you have any tips for couples undertaking a renovation? How were you able to work together and mix your styles?
Lauren: Ross, like a good husband, let me be in charge of a lot of the design aspects. I used Pinterest to make overall inspiration boards as well as more niche boards for specific elements like “dining room lights.” After selecting a choice of appropriate designs and fixtures, he’d select the ones he liked.
Ross: Aspects of this apartment are also similar to our previous apartment. We used the same blue paint color for the accent wall in the dining room as well as the same Eskayel wallpaper in our bedroom. We had liked these elements before and simply procured them again for the new space.
The pocket door is actually three separate doors that have been combined. Lauren and Ross added it so they had the option to close off the space but also let light in.
How did you go about filling the apartment with furniture and decor? What were your go-to stores?
Lauren: We actually didn’t have to buy much furniture for this apartment and were able to use most of what we had in our previous apartment. We did get a new living room rug, which came from Room and Board. We also had to purchase new light fixtures for all rooms, which came from CB2, Rejuvenation, Ikea and West Elm. We also got a bench for the living room alcove and a matching chair for the living room, both of which are from West Elm.
I like to see furniture in place before committing, so I get a bit nervous about purchasing custom furniture (although the sofa is custom from Desiron) since I like the idea of being able to return things if they don’t work in the space. So I end up going with a lot of the bigger brand name stores like West Elm or Rejuvenation (both of which are a convenient two blocks away!) or CB2, since they have good return policies. Lillian August also has great style and is conveniently located near us, so I browse there a lot for ideas. I also love ABC Home, although most items there are crazy expensive (but the basement remnants department is great and two of our rugs are from there).
A copy of Lauren’s book “Four Kitchens“
Lauren, as a food writer, what were your must-haves in the kitchen?
Lauren: A dishwasher! That was definitely a must for me. I cook most evenings if we’re home and hate having to do the dishes, so it was key that we had a dishwasher. I was a bit nervous about our current dishwasher as it’s much smaller than a standard one, but it’s worked out well. I just end up running it daily. Having good pantry space is nice, too, and I love the pull-out shelving that the previous owners installed. I can easily see all of my spices and ingredients, rather than having to rummage for things high up on a shelf. One day, I’d love a professional-style Wolf range or the like, but honestly, our small stove does just fine! Other than that, all you really need is a sharp knife or two!
Ross got this original Beatles’ poster when he was a teenager visiting New York.
Do you have a favorite item in the home?
Ross: The piano is a favorite, and it’s new to this apartment. When we moved in, the alcove off our bedroom had been used as an office with a wooden desk built into the space. We removed the desk and realized it was a perfect spot for a piano, which I had always wanted as I’ve played jazz piano for years. The piano is also really cool because you can also silence it and use headphones so you won’t disturb your neighbors. It’s perfect for a New York City apartment!
The Dali lithograph is on the far left
Lauren: Our art collection is also really special and includes both works we had before meeting each other as well as pieces we’ve gotten together. We have a really interesting abstract Dali lithograph which we received as a wedding present from Ross’s parents, as well as a cool piece of sculpture that is basically an optical illusion of the Mona Lisa made by our artist friend, Dwyer Kilcollin. I also love our Eskayel wallpaper. It’s just so soothing and makes the bedroom a sanctuary.
You mentioned that this is your second apartment in Chelsea. What do you love about the neighborhood? Any favorite spots?
Lauren: We really like the convenience that Chelsea offers; it’s easy to get to Midtown where Ross works, and we’ve got four subway lines within a 10-minute walk. My parents live in Greenwich Village, so it’s also easy to walk to see them, and we like how everything is readily available. We’ve got great grocery stores nearby with Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fairway, and the High Line and the water are only a 10-minute walk away.
Ross: As for favorite spots, we really like Sushi Seki and Momoya for sushi and Japanese cuisine, Co. for pizza, Legend for spicy Sichuan, Hill Country for barbecue, and Hanjan for Korean small plates. City Cakes has amazing half-pound cookies, La Maison du Macaron has killer almond croissants, and Creamline has delicious milkshakes. Chelsea Market is obviously great, too, and we like the taco spots a lot (Los Tacos No 1 and Los Mariscos) while Cull and Pistol has the best oyster happy hour in the city. There are also some great wine shops nearby, like Bottlerocket and Forager’s Wine Shop, while the bar of Le Zie, The Half King, Raine’s Law Room and Bar Veloce are all good bars.
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Neighborhoods : Chelsea