Before & After: A Newly Renovated Apartment Gets An Unbelievable Redo


This is a fascinating transformation in that it’s an all-over renovation of a freshly renovated apartment. While the “before” is something that many of us (especially me!) might aspire to, the “after” is truly something special…

Sure, this space was totally livable before but come on…this is amazing new look! It’s like an ultra-luxurious study, a room perfect for curling up with a good book that also has plenty of space and seating for lively social gatherings. That paint color is gorgeous, and the sofa glows like a jewel. On the left is a closeup of the new marble-surrounded peninsula, which houses appliances on the kitchen side and bar seating on the living room side. I’m particularly enamored by this room, but the entire makeover is stunning.

This is the home of Michelle Desouza of Apollo Jets, who designed the entire renovation, and her family:

Brad, myself and our three-legged dog Broc [live here]. We moved to New York in 2011, lived in rentals in Manhattan, Dumbo and finally moved to Williamsburg. We have lived in six rentals over the years and were excited to make an apartment home.

Michelle, who is a private jet pilot, has certainly taken an enviable but perhaps generic space and made it look unique and incredibly homey.

Here’s the kitchen pre-renovation. Is it me, or have we seen those red pendants a million times before? They seem so specific but also feel so ubiquitous. All of the other elements are quite nice, but perhaps the overall effect is, as Michelle said, a bit cold and shiny, almost like an executive extended stay hotel:

We bought the apartment in January 2016 and had a month to move in. It was newly renovated but the finish was modern and a little cold for my liking. Think a lot of shiny surfaces. We loved the neighborhood and the street it was located on so we decided to buy knowing we could remodel before we moved in.

I wanted to bring warmth to the space. We work crazy hours in a chaotic environment and needed a space we could retreat to every night.

One month later, this space would look very, very different…

How is it so sleek and modern yet so cozy and sumptuous, all at the same time? Look how the green velvet gleams in the sunlight. There’s a story there:

My husband fell in love with this oversized sectional at ABC Home. It is a giant velvet emerald sectional and feels like a big hug. Since it was the only thing on his wishlist we made an impulse purchase! We went back to the apartment to measure to realize that it wouldn’t fit in our current living room. We had to remove an existing closet in our guest bedroom and move the living room wall back a couple of feet to accommodate it. Thus began the month-long reno, which I did myself with a local contractor through a lot of trial and error.

That’s right: Michelle, who is not a designer, masterminded this entire renovation. I am overwhelmed at the thought—especially since it was all completed in a month—and thoroughly impressed by the confidence and vision it must have taken to get the job done.

Other than that slightly odd hanging shelf unit, this “Before” has many of the hallmarks of my dream kitchen: sleek white cabinetry, streamlined stainless steel appliances, pale floors, and stainless countertops (a particular fave of mine). Still, I can see why many people might find it cold and sterile—or simply not personal enough, and why Michelle wanted to make it unique.

The hanging shelf has been removed, the flooring replaced, the ceiling beam painted a bold black, and the stainless steel peninsula replaced by an absolutely stunning waterfall-edge marble countertop. The runner coordinates perfectly with the wall paint and the rug in the living room, and it adds coziness both visual and actual—especially helpful for early morning coffee making runs.

The shell of this bedroom is so beautiful: high ceilings, gorgeous hardwood floors, and a nearly floor-to-ceiling window that floods the room with light. It’s dreamily empty, too (enough years living in cramped studios and empty space can start to look like the most luxurious thing possible).

That ballet studio-like space has been transformed into a chic boudoir. The subtle play of grays is sophisticated, the chandelier adds old-world elegance, the white linens reflect the aforementioned light, and the floors are darker but still beautiful. I especially enjoy the way the bed aligns with the window, allowing a nearly complete view of the city.

The pre-renovation bathroom is great, if not a little generic. It looks neat and clean, it has a nice plain palette that could serve as a base for design flourishes, and all the fixtures are new and gleaming.

But now! It’s so fun. The tiny-triangle floor is delightful, the black ceiling is edgy, and all the gold accessories add glamour and warmth. Those are a favorite of Michelle’s:

I like warm tones and color which you can see throughout the remodel. I also love antique gold finishings so we added those wherever we could.

I especially love that little gold trash can—it’s like something Oscar the Grouch’s much fancier and tinier cousin might live in.

In addition to how cool the new shower looks, it’s much more accessible than a bathtub, which has to be stepped over. These are good things for anyone to consider, especially when planning a forever home.

If you find yourself drawn to any particular part of Michelle’s renovation, here’s the source list:

  • Paint in all rooms – Farrow & Ball (we weren’t able to get the exact paint color, but our guess is Hague Blue)
  • Rugs – bought from a local company while in Jaipur, India
  • Couch – ABC Home
  • TV Console – Brooklyn Reclamation
  • Beds – Restoration Hardware & Anthropologie
  • Mirrored Dresser – Z Gallerie
  • Light Fixtures – ABC Home
  • Closet hardware – Artisan Hardware
  • Barn Door – Local Contractor
  • Wooden Desk – Local Contractor
  • Pillows and Throws – Anthropologie & Restoration Hardware
  • Bathroom Fixtures – Restoration Hardware
  • Pedestal Sink – Wayfair
  • Décor objects – A&G Merch in Brooklyn, West Elm, CB2 & Anthropologie
  • Patio Furniture – West Elm

I wanted to leave you with one final look at the living room, complete with the larger television, ultra-cool sideboard, the chaise nook where I would like to read forever, the to-die-for fireplace, and the even more to-die-for Broc the dog. Congrats to Broc and family on their lovely new home!

Thank you, Michelle!

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