Everything that designer Rebecca Minkoff touches—the cross-body bag, the classic “I Love New York” T-shirt—turns to fashion gold. She expanded beyond accessories to launch ready-to-wear in 2009, and every piece has been more covetable than the last. Along the way, Rebecca and her husband, Gavin, had two lovely children—Bowie and Luca, now four and one years old.
Because her hands have been so full growing her family and business, Rebecca’s home hadn’t quite caught up. The main living space in her Brooklyn apartment, which serves as a kitchen, living room, and dining room, had grown too comfortable—dare we say, too child-friendly. It didn’t reflect her killer style. Led by our makeover maestro Alex Reid, we swooped in to help Rebecca create a space that reflects her refreshingly modern taste, matches her easy-breezy entertaining style, and includes a new art-filled play space. Check out the transformation.
Stopping into the Studio
Any makeover takes a leap of faith, a willingness to free up yourself—and your space—for new ideas. To open up the full potential of this apartment, Rebecca and Alex met in the One Kings Lane Interior Design studio in Manhattan. There, everything is right at one’s fingertips: a full Pantone board and all sorts of furnishings you can test-drive on the spot. As Rebecca says, “It can make such a difference to touch and feel something.”
Building On Favorites
Rebecca describes her fashion aesthetic as “sexy tomboy,” and her interior style has the same DNA. She doesn’t go overtly feminine or traditional (she had zero interest in chintz). Rebecca dreamed of achieving true comfort and a warm modernism for her family’s home, which meant the design bull’s-eye for this project was anything in the midcentury vein, anything made in radiant woods, anything that had striking, Pop-y contrasts or the ability to layer beautifully.
They didn’t start totally from scratch. The midcentury dining set, with chairs upholstered in a peacock blue, was kept. Alex took cues from the table’s softly curving woods and the blue of the chairs. And it turned out that Rebecca had a perfect credenza for the space. It just happened to be tucked in her bedroom. Moving that out to the main living space helped nail that 1960s feel and separate the dining area from the living room.
Rethinking the Comfort Zone
The former living room setup was high on comfort, like a beloved college sweatshirt you can’t imagine living without. “I was hesitant about changing everything,” Rebecca says. “I was getting too comfortable. I never needed to worry about my kids ruining stuff.” But she knew it needed a chic update.
For a fresh approach to weaving in color, we took our cue from the color-blocked wooden necklace that Rebecca had hanging on the wall. “We didn’t use any patterns,” Alex notes. “Instead, throughout the space, we kept color in set zones, just like that necklace, so you can really see the contrasts.” The contrasts are carried through the space on African mud-cloth pillows atop an enveloping sectional, a wool ottoman in gray and cream, and a cream Moroccan rug that contrast with the wood and delineates the space. A lot of low-level lighting was added as well, from a trio of brass lamps to a table lamp. Infusing the space with flattering soft light gives a welcoming glow to this whole zone in the evening.
I was getting too comfortable. I never needed to worry about my kids ruining stuff.
Brightening Up the Kitchen
Two growing children means the kitchen is in constant use. The goal was to give it an overarching style to better contain the daily chaos that every family-filled household has. This didn’t require major changes, just lots of little ones. A palette of blue, light gray, and glowing brass was created. Spotlight-like lighting was swapped out for modern black and brass fixtures, which diffuse light throughout the space, and all the hardware was changed to brass. The dark gray walls were lightened up a few shades, which made the tilework pop and brightened the entire space.
In the pantry, organizing items in white bins kept the kitchen’s visible space feeling less crowded. For pops of color, Alex chose blue rubber stools—which he calls “indestructible and wonderfully textured”—to mirror the peacock-blue chairs on the other side of the space. The other color comes from very movable pieces, like the Le Creuset pots. “We know this isn’t going to stay perfectly color-blocked!” Alex says. “But it’s fun to play around with colors and have the rest of the space feel uncluttered.”
We know this isn’t going to stay perfectly color-blocked! But it’s fun to play around with colors and have the rest of the space feel uncluttered.
Transforming the Library
A repository for books and toys, the far wall had untapped potential. Alex’s team built out the space, both up the wall and along the floor, to bring it to life while adding functionality. The toys went into giant lidded bins (an instant decluttering move), and in came a midcentury-style mini dining set for the children with electric-blue chairs. With (very washable) Swedish rag rugs underneath, this became a new zone for coloring, playing, and eating, kiddo-style. Rebecca says, “It’s working! The big baskets hold the toys, and we’ve been able to feel more grown-up—while still child-friendly. We all love eating there!”
As for the wall, Alex went with his new take on the gallery wall: the gallery ledge. By building out walnut shelves that have a little half-inch lip at the end, one can stably lean art against the wall. For the size of these framed pieces, the shelves needed to be 24 inches apart. The beauty of the gallery ledge, besides it’s seriously chic look, is that you can change the art around as you feel like it without hammering new holes in the wall. “These shelves can evolve so easily,” Alex says. “If you get a beautiful snapshot, just frame it and add it to the mix!”
It’s working! We’ve been able to feel more grown-up—while still child-friendly.
Reveling in the Results
Alex loved the challenge of creating a space that was equal parts comfortable and chic, channeling Rebecca’s casual, warm style. “Rebecca is a chill Brooklyn mom. Obviously she’s super-fashionable, but she’s also fun and easygoing. Working with her was a breeze,” he says.
For her part, Rebecca loves coming home to this refreshing new world. While letting go of certain pieces was tough, she has no regrets. “Sometimes you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone in order to get something that makes you happier in the end,” she says. “Now when I walk into the apartment, I feel happy and decluttered. It brightens my mood.”
Now when I walk into the apartment, I feel happy and decluttered. It brightens my mood.