In 2012 Superstorm Sandy, known as the second-costliest hurricane in US history, tore through New York City ripping many buildings apart and flooding parts of the city. Interior designer Daniel Ian Smith saw in the immediate aftermath that his garden apartment in West Village was destroyed, so too was the property belonging to 32 of his neighbors. They all faced the same plight; it was time for gut renovations and complete home refurbishment.
Smith explains that not even a single surface was spared and a complete cleanup of rubble was required before they could even think about new design plans. Working with the community, Smith helped other homeowners by offering his design expertise and suggesting resilient measures for the future. But for his own home, he already had a plan!
An architectural and interior designer by profession, Smith had contemplated for many years how he would renovate his own home, were he to ever redecorate the entire apartment. He already had ideas, a schedule and a budget in place for the project. Although it was a sad situation, Smith chose to embrace it as an exciting opportunity.
Now completely restored, Smith’s new apartment is both eclectic and chic. It has a mix of classic mid century modern furniture paired with whimsical decor, some of which he inherited from his eccentric great aunt. A 1950’s-era batik Boy’s Day banner from Japan, Czech pottery and an Eero Saarinen chair are just some amongst the vast collection of art and vintage decor items on display in this apartment.
This black and white kitchen design was born out of Smith’s desire to get rid of all metal finishes. The choice of floor tiles, with the black cabinets on one side and white on the other looks like a visualization of the game of chess, but I am sure cooking in here would be an easy and pleasurable sport. I love how the wall art here creates an illusion of a longer kitchen, as one stares at the long alley in the picture.
This candy-colored Vola faucet breaks the monotony and adds a bold splash of color in the monochrome setting of the kitchen.
How much style can you pack around a two-person dining table? Enough to always keep the dinner conversations lively, if your designer is Daniel Ian Smith! Along with some classic mid century modern furniture, there is an original George Nelson lamp that Smith inherited from his great aunt, and a vintage Soviet-era theater poster. The bright reds look stunning against the pale walls and the greens make the dining area more appetizing.
Every corner of this apartment seems to have a different theme, making it a truly eclectic home. The relaxed tones in this bedroom, based around cool blues and grays, makes it a peaceful space. The two pictures of a Chinese Village displayed above the bed are from Smith’s personal collection. A chair used here instead of a side table to hold books for bedtime reading is an interesting decor choice that speaks to those of us who like dual purpose furniture.
Another bedroom showcases a totally different decor inspired by East Asia. The lampshades are just like bamboo hats, while the bedscape and the headboard also remind me of the handicraft and architecture of rural Vietnam. Every piece of decor in this room is unique and engaging. It feels like the room has a story to tell.
The bathroom is simple with its marble wall and floor tiles. The glass tile inlay that travels across from the bath area to the floor, making a zigzag pattern adds a nice touch to the overall design. The bathroom is also fitted with built-in speakers.
Smith says that in the process of restoring his home he realized the value of building positive relations with vendors and builders. It was a reminder for him of the beauty of karma, as he saw these people happily lend a helping hand to expedite this project and turn his vision into reality.
It couldn’t have been easy for Smith to watch his home being wrecked by the hurricane, but the entire experience has made him more grateful and humble. When asked what he loved the most about his new home, here is what he had to say:
As both the designer and client, not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate all the hard work and careful planning that went into my apartment renovation. There is nothing like being surrounded by great design, optimized functionality, and inspiring beauty. Every time I walk into a room, I am thankful all over again. I know it may sound saccharine, but, honestly, working on my own home was a wonderful reminder of why I do what I do for my clients. If their homes bring such happiness, then I know I’ve been successful.