House Tour: Interior Designer Jae Joo’s Dream Vintage Loft In New York City

With her antique collection and historic architectural features in the background, homeowner and interior designer Jae Joo explains the creative vision behind her Manhattan dream loft.
by Karine Monie

The head of Jae Joo Designs and her husband Devin searched the entire Tribeca neighbourhood for the perfect place. Their previous home was a three-storey brownstone in Brooklyn, but they wanted to live in the heart of New York City. After months of searching, they found this apartment that’s just minutes from downtown New York.

“We looked at a lot of lofts, but most were just long white boxes,” Jae says. “We fell in love with the architectural details, like the 1920s-style arched windows with thick mouldings and brick walls. They add so much character to the home that was built in 1919.”

In November 2017, the couple moved into the two-bedroom loft without making any changes. She wanted to keep the layout as open as possible while experimenting with some finishes. Jae didn’t plan a colour scheme for her new home before moving in. All she knew was that white and brick walls could be mixed and matched in different shades. “I usually steer clear of schemes that are too obvious.”

For many years, she has collected antiques and vintage items. Integrating them into her new home was only natural. “Although we brought a lot of things from our old place, the loft still feels spacious, and everything seems to be in its right place now.”

In every nook, you’ll see Jae’s love for classic designs and playful, humorous or odd elements. “They reflect my style and personality,” she explains. In the sunny living room, where she and her husband spend most of their time, Jae enjoys working right by the windows, and her husband reads on the floor near the stereo.

“It’s so bright and energetic in the morning, and then it turns magically moody with natural dim light at night,” she explains.

Creating new atmospheres is something Jae enjoys doing. Neoclassical chests, vintage furniture, and textiles define this unique personal space. Rugs in a variety of colours and styles, as well as eclectic furniture, such as Ming chairs and a piano harkening back to Jae’s past work as an opera singer, also decorate the loft.

With its white-painted brick walls and simple aesthetic, the bedroom feels peaceful and calm. “It is tucked away from our living space, so it is hushed,” Jae says.

“If I paint the entire room a dull colour to make it feel more cocoon-like, I’ll never want to get out of bed in the morning! Sundays feel so good here,” she says. “We love to wake up late, cook a large breakfast, and open all the windows regardless of the weather. Because staying at home all day is too tempting, we try to stroll around as much as possible.”

After living in the house for two years, the interior designer plans to renovate it. Although she is unsure when she will begin this project, an idea is forming. Jae says she and her husband love everything about the original house, despite its outdated finishes.

“My home is a never-ending project; some modern touches would be nice.”

This story originally published on Home & Decor and The Peak Singapore.

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