Observations on Interior Design and New York Real Estate
As New York City experiences an unprecedented downward economic blip due to the pandemic, a vast majority of New Yorkers still remain committed to living their lives here in the five boroughs. I love Brooklyn and have no intent on leaving at all. After a minor halt of projects in mid-2020, our firm is seeing a recent flurry of work coming our way—from interior decor projects in Hudson Yards to gut renovations on the Upper West Side and in Tribeca to bathroom and kitchen updates in downtown Brooklyn. Work is definitely still happening and pent up demand is being released.
Some residential buyers are actively taking advantage of significant price decreases to purchase what was previously unaffordable and renovate their kitchen or bathroom. We have city clients looking to gut renovate their entire space for a complete update while they spend their quarantine time in New Jersey or Hudson Valley. With real estate price drops ranging in the 10% range, six-figure sums for construction and renovation are being freed up for many new home buyers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Suddenly, that minimalist bathroom is now within budget. Marble tiles are being substituted for ceramics. The custom built cabinets our clients were hoping for can finally be realized after years of waiting. While the pandemic tried everyone in countless ways, our clients have been able, in this one discrete way, to indulge their interior design dreams.
With the rental market in a downturn, we even see some renters moving from apartment to apartment, scaling up into larger homes and more luxurious neighborhoods and hiring our firm for interior decoration projects. Our ability to provide a calm process for something that can feel chaotic or unknown applies to people who own or rent. Even without construction, we are transforming empty spaces into beautiful homes for entertaining, relaxing, and living. Of course, we are planning spaces to ensure that our clients can take their furniture with them to their next home.
With rentals, timelines can force a quick design change. We have a new client on the Upper East Side who recently moved to an expansive townhouse duplex rental and needed our guidance for interiors. Based on two decades of industry experience, our firm was able to be nimble and orchestrated a master plan within two weeks.
For another client who recently lowered rental payments in their West Village apartment, we are currently reupholstering their existing furniture for a fresh look, in addition to designing a new home office so that she can properly work from home. Too many months camped inside the same apartment meant the once bearable needs to be refreshed.
As an interior design firm principal, I have a duty to beautify our clients’ spaces—but also to make it functional, sensible, and most importantly, within budget. While the New York real estate prices over time are changing, opportunities still abound for people looking to redesign their space. We are certainly grateful to be busy doing what we do best!