2013 Sydney Design Awards

Image Credit : Anson Smart info@ansonsmart.com



Project Overview

Arent&Pyke transformed a small, dark apartment in the West village of New York City into a bright and vibrant retreat - an urban oasis for a client who revels staying in the most exciting part of the city, yet desires a comfortable and liveable personal space.

Project Commissioner

Private Client

Project Creator



Juliette Arent
Sarah-Jane Pyke

Project Brief

It was important to the client that this apartment would be a home away from home for the family, so the selection of floor coverings, furnishings, lighting and artwork were personalised and tailored to create a true sense of home for our clients.

For us this project was about achieving a balance of visual interest that would immediately feel warm and inviting, without overwhelming the spaces or feeling contrived.

While blessed with a rare courtyard in Manhattan, the interior was intimate, so every element had to be specific to its scale and well considered.

Fewer, more significant pieces of furniture were selected, such as the Utrecht chair - creating a sense of comfortable gravitas with a small footprint. Custom beds were chosen to cleverly conceal extra mattresses.

The crisp white for walls was chosen as a backdrop for the brave use of pattern in the rugs & bedheads, creating visual interest without the need to over-decorate. Texture, rugs and upholstery rendered the apartment soft and comfortable in the colder seasons without being overbearing in summer.

Project Need

The brief came from a Sydney based client, with whom we had worked previously. Key to the New York project was maintaining the aesthetic for which we are known, and a sense of comfortable, liveable sophistication. Lifestyle aspects such as dining together without ‘perching’, and comfortably sleeping 5 adults were also important to the family.

Upon arriving in New York it was immediately apparent that the apartment was dark in both materiality and lighting. The entire internal fabric of the apartment was re-conditioned to provide a fitting backdrop for the new decorative schemes. Additional lighting instantly made the apartment feel larger.

Ultimately we not only met the brief – we exceeded it. We delivered a colourful, comfortable, sophisticated home that feels lively and fresh. The project was a complete transformation of the space, and the client revels in spending time in this urban retreat.

Design Challenge

We had worked with our clients previously on their Sydney home – a contemporary architect designed home whose retrained palette and streamlined spaces lent itself to more minimal furnishing – and knew that this more introspective apartment, in the vibrant city of New York, would need a richer and more layered approach to bring it to life. Our challenge was to create a space that would still offer them the comfort and familiarity of home, but respond appropriately to its environs.

This project also challenged us to translate our aesthetic and process in a new location. In contravention to our typical process, the majority of the pieces including furniture, lighting, art, paint colours, and outdoor furniture were selected in a condensed 3 week period on location and then we fully managed the installation and execution of the design remotely. This undertaking broke down geographical limits of space and time for us in terms of our project management, and our capability to deliver abroad.


All elements – furniture, materials and details – are selected for their quality and robustness, to create a home that is practical, beautiful and timeless. We retained material wherever we could by reconditioning existing joinery and bathrooms, to minimise waste.

We endeavour to eliminate negative environmental impact through sensitive design. We work with clients to foster an enduring relationship between the client and their furnishings, so that there is not a yearning to replace things. For this project, we selected fewer pieces of quality furniture with enduring design integrity, which rendered them timeless. We do not see furniture as a disposable item, but rather one that lasts a lifetime and beyond, being passed through the family.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to furnishings, finishes, aesthetic presentation and functionality. Please specify furnishings lighting, flooring, colours and fabrics.
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