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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Starting From Scratch

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The apartment came with dark wenge floors, which I immediately knew would show every speck of dirt and dust and quickly fade with the floor-to-ceiling windows.  I knew they had to change.

1 The apartment came with dark wenge floors, which I immediately knew would show every speck of dirt and dust and quickly fade with the floor-to-ceiling windows. I knew they had to change.

Upon entering the apartment, you're met with this long, gallery-like hallway.  Right now, I keep a library of old magazines there, but at some point, I have to purge and make some design choices.  Notice the floors have lightened up...I'll explain the whys and hows of that process in an upcoming post.

2 Upon entering the apartment, you're met with this long, gallery-like hallway. Right now, I keep a library of old magazines there, but at some point, I have to purge and make some design choices. Notice the floors have lightened up...I'll explain the whys and hows of that process in an upcoming post.

The view from the entry into living room.

3 The view from the entry into living room.

I fell in love with these figures during a trip to China and bought them. I'm not sure yet where I'll put them, but for now, they seem comfortable on their pedestals in the hallway. I added the additional tiara.

4 I fell in love with these figures during a trip to China and bought them. I'm not sure yet where I'll put them, but for now, they seem comfortable on their pedestals in the hallway. I added the additional tiara.

This is the furniture from my studio apartment on the Upper East Side.

5 This is the furniture from my studio apartment on the Upper East Side.

I bought this sofa years ago from a consignment shop in Connecticut and since had it re-upholstered twice: first in a beige cotton duck and now in this gray wool. I had the throw made from one of my mother's old fur coats.

6 I bought this sofa years ago from a consignment shop in Connecticut and since had it re-upholstered twice: first in a beige cotton duck and now in this gray wool. I had the throw made from one of my mother's old fur coats.

Coming from my old studio apartment, I'm still getting used to having all this space.

7 Coming from my old studio apartment, I'm still getting used to having all this space.

I decided to put my bed in the living room for now so that I can enjoy the incredible views.

8 I decided to put my bed in the living room for now so that I can enjoy the incredible views.

Looking back down the hallway from the living room to the front door.

9 Looking back down the hallway from the living room to the front door.

One of the piers on the Hudson River outside my living room window.

10 One of the piers on the Hudson River outside my living room window.

The view looking North. It's so peaceful.

11 The view looking North. It's so peaceful.

The south view. Sometimes it feels like I'm floating in the clouds. I want to keep the interiors simple to maximize that feeling.

12 The south view. Sometimes it feels like I'm floating in the clouds. I want to keep the interiors simple to maximize that feeling.

My balcony view.

13 My balcony view.

Off the living room is my dining room. It's currently serving as my closet. Has anyone seen my green gingham tie?

14 Off the living room is my dining room. It's currently serving as my closet. Has anyone seen my green gingham tie?

A powder room is located off the main hallway.

15 A powder room is located off the main hallway.

Also off the main hallway is a
guest bedroom. Looks like a few garment racks got out of the dining room.

16 Also off the main hallway is a guest bedroom. Looks like a few garment racks got out of the dining room.

This is the hallway leading to my bedroom. It includes a wall of windows on the left and a wall of closets on the right. Those glass doors must go!

17 This is the hallway leading to my bedroom. It includes a wall of windows on the left and a wall of closets on the right. Those glass doors must go!

The master bathroom is adjacent to the bedroom. I love the stone floors.

18 The master bathroom is adjacent to the bedroom. I love the stone floors.

My actual bedroom. Now not quite as dreamy as my set up in the living room, but it will be.

19 My actual bedroom. Now not quite as dreamy as my set up in the living room, but it will be.

It's hard to believe that for more than a year I've been living in a modern Manhattan high-rise, surrounded by glass walls, dark floors, little furniture and some wild design ideas. (Why not put a white baby grand piano in a 2,500 square foot space?)  It's been a bit of an  adjustment, coming from a tiny studio on the Upper East Side filled with antiques and damask.  However, as the year has progressed and moved into the next, and as I have lived in the space and experienced the light, noises and room flow, my ideas have tempered (I don't play piano and don't really know anyone who does), and I've actually made a few design choices. (I can comfortably live with modern.)

For the next year, I will be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the design process in this daily blog, from my choices and inspirations to actual interaction with experts on how to execute these ideas (without going broke).  Follow my journey, a design work-in-progress with all its successes and pitfalls, here and in a bi-monthly Martha Stewart Living magazine column, on my weekly radio show on Sirius channel 112 and in television segments on the Martha Stewart Show.

Most importantly, I look forward to your feedback and interaction, sharing your renovation photos and design ideas.

Starting simple, here is the apartment as is.

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Comments (16)

  • Kevin;
    This is going to be fun. I enjoy reading all of the daily information that comes from MS and am totally inspired in all the Ms. Stewart and all that work at MS have to offer.
    We are in the process of renovating a historical home and also blog about it.
    I look forward to the changes as they take place.
    Good Luck,
    Ria

  • I have a LARGE living room with contemporary furniture, an over sized mirror and artificial tree. I need to fill up the front area near the windows with a piece of furniture. My idea was to add a dark brown grand piano as an accent to fill up that space, but its too expensive just to display. I can't think of any other furniture to accent this room - please help!

  • I am so excited about this! For ages I have been hoping that you would start blogging. The apartment looks great without any furniture but I know that it will look wonderful by the time the blog starts to get going.

    Can't wait for the next installment Kevin.

    Pru

  • Hi Kevin,
    I just 'found' your blog today and already am looking forward to seeing your apartment when it's completed. I can only imagine what it will look like! I was so impressed with what you did with Dawna Stone's apt. when she became editor of Body+Soul magazine and of course, you share so many ideas on the show and elsewhere. I wondered if you'd ever have a blog on this site and now here you are. I'll be checking in as much as possible. (I hope you take Martha's advice and use stronger sun block on your trips to sunny places!) Trish

  • I am really excited about your blog? Are you going to put a mirror in the entry hall?

  • Hi Kevin, congratulations on your new blog. Love the photos of your apartment - Alexis has referenced it on Whatever - the views are fantastic. Good luck with all that's to come and thanks for sharing it with us. Do you now have a regular radio show and if so, when is it? I hope Alexis will be a regular guest; the two of you make a great team! All the best!

  • The apartment looks great, what a wonderful adventure,many joys and stress to come but well worth it in the end. I am very interested in watching your adventure and seeing the final masterpiece. Just have fun that is what it is all about. joe/Greenbay

  • What great views! I don't like those glass door either, but I'll be interested to see what you do with the place.

  • I'm enjoying your adventure, Kevin! My partner and I took on a project not too far flung from yours: we bought land, spent ten years designing, and now the past six years building, finishing, and decorating our future retirement home/present vacation home in the woods of N. MN. You will enjoy the experience and learn to temper the frustrations with the satisfaction of the results!

  • Wow - an empty canvas! I cannot wait to follow the transformation. Who knows, maybe your space can end up featured in The Selby (love that website, too!).

  • I really appreciate that despite your being a design professional, you're taking time to figure out the feel of the space. I (not a professional), have been living in my house for 5 years and I'm still figuring it out. I'm sure it will be wonderful.

  • I am glad you are taking the time to blog about the RENO process
    because it sure does require a lot of thought and so... many decisions
    professional or not the choices are endless and the more passionate you are
    about design the more the mind wanders to the endless possibilities.
    I cannot wait to see your finished project and given your position in Martha
    Land, I know it will be Fab-U-lous !!!

  • The views in your photographs are stunning and probably even more so as they change throughout the seasons. The piers and to a certain extent, the façade of the neighboring building coupled with the more distant views provide an amazing level of information with which to work. It will be interesting to see how you draw on the visual and metaphorical aspects of the view and how history plays into the whole thing. I immediately thought of Maya Lin’s Confluence Project and anything by Tod Williams Billie Tsien. Not quite minimal but of interest nonetheless. It’s definitely rich with possibilities. Good luck and have fun.

  • Kevin - I'm thrilled to be able to follow your process. I, too, am documenting my own home renovation and decorating process on my blog. I hope you find a chance to stop by the site : http://jennysteffens.blogspot.com/search/label/Home

    Jenny Steffens
    Occasions by Jenny Steffens

  • That dark wood flooring looks ravishing. Holy Cow! I want that too. Are you using oak flooring or laminate flooring on that?

  • I agree with the poster above, the flooring looks marvelous. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

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