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Fiona Byrne’s Lower East Side All-White Apartment

Curated for you via Architectural Digest.

Keeping things interesting in an all-white apartment isn’t always easy, but Fiona Byrne’s downtown New York City apartment makes it look like a breeze. Having lived in her two-bedroom Lower East Side apartment for the past 14 years, the interior designer and blogger behind The Byrne Notice decided it was finally time to give the place a light face-lift. “The space has been through many incarnations, but this time the updates felt like a necessity, because I couldn’t stand being in certain rooms anymore,” Fiona explains.

A white sofa below a colorful artwork
Old-school architectural moldings were added to the apartment walls to bring depth and dimension to the all-white space. Artwork by Cacho Falcon.

So she enlisted the help of contractor James Abreau to upgrade a few of the more dated areas of the apartment, which included replacing the kitchen’s peeling laminate countertops with more sophisticated Carrera marble ones, and installing new vanity tileand modern fixtures in the bathroom. However, instead of tearing down the walls to help open up the boxy apartment, Fiona opted to embrace its series of cramped rooms and paint the entire apartment—ceiling, wood floors, and all—in a crisp coat of clean white paint. “I’ve always dreamed of living in an art gallery,” she says. “An all-white palette gives you the breathing room to think creatively.”

A fireplace being framed out in a white apartment
BEFORE: A frame goes up for the electric fireplace which will add dimension and coziness to the white box apartment.

Photo courtesy of Fiona Byrne

an allwhite room with a fireplace
AFTER: The finished fireplace and prewar-style moldings on the wall give the minimal space a homey vibe.

Photo by Genevieve Garruppo

To create some depth and dimension inside the monochrome apartment, Abreau added prewar-style moldings to the walls and constructed an electric fireplace—complete with a heater—out of Sheetrock and plaster in the living room. Fiona also took care to layer in some eye-catching decorative elements—think colorful wallpaper, a retro Smeg refrigerator, and taxidermy birds—to temper the minimalist vibe.

a white apartment kitchen with cabinets
BEFORE: Your typical NYC apartment kitchen with bulky white cabinets that blocked the only window in the room.

Photo courtesy of Fiona Byrne

A small kitchen with white fridge and painted wallpaper
AFTER: Fiona replaced the cabinets with $20 floating shelves from IKEA to usher in more natural light.

Photo by Genevieve Garruppo

Looking for ways to think outside of the box in your own white-walled abode? Here’s how you can score a similar creative look for your own home:

Remember that less is more

For Fiona, the first order of business when updating your apartment is paring down the place as much as possible. “You don’t need an object on every surface,” she explains. “Now I look at items and ask myself: ‘Would that area look better without that thing there?’ and then edit accordingly.”

a blonde woman in a hallway with striped rug
In the hallway of her gallery-esque apartment, Fiona stands atop a graphic runner from Jonathan Adler’s Now House collection for Amazon. She had her collection of art framed by Framebridge. “I consider the professional framing of all the art in my apartment as a part of my transition into adulthood,” she says.

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