How to personalize your high-rise apartment

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“Texture adds character to a room without overcrowding it – look for lots of texture in fabrics and wall coverings,” advised interior designer Saruul Herz.
Credit: Gloss

As an interior designer at the Manhattan firm Gloss NY, Saruul Herz gives homes practical cosmetic overhauls that fit her clients’ tastes and lifestyles. Although designing an individual living space is a highly personal process, Herz’s years of experience revamping downtown high rises has given her insight into things to consider before redesigning these unique, special spaces.

What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when designing for a high-rise space?

In high-rises, people feel their walls are a little too thin – you can hear your neighbors’ conversations. Cork wallpaper helps with these external noises. There’s some great stuff out there. Second, I always want to make sure windows have UV protection, especially the ones facing south. If you don’t have a UV-protective film over the window, you could damage your furniture or even your skin.

How can New Yorkers maximize a small space?

Most walls aren’t sturdy enough to hold good shelving, so I recommend free-standing shelves that can be stacked up to the ceiling. Opine Chianti makes some beautiful ones out of metal. Texture also adds character to a room without overcrowding it – look for lots of texture in fabrics and wall coverings.

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New Yorkers never have enough space in their tiny apartments, and most walls aren’t strong enough to support good shelves so interior designer Saruul Herz recommends “free-standing shelves that can be stacked up to the ceiling,” she said.
Credit: Gloss

How do you get inspired when you design a room?

People overthink these things! Inspiration can be very simple – a piece of material, or just something you’re interested in and want to have fun with. It could be right in front of your eyes. People tend to think inspiration is hiding somewhere else. Just stick with a base idea, and work your way around it.

What’s the best way to make a quick change to a room?

Start by painting one wall. Or even simpler – if you have an old chair you love and want to update, putting a new blanket over it could make it a brand new piece. Those are a few simple things that can start a whole new project.

What does it mean to build a design around a client’s personality?

I try to bring out their character. I don’t pay attention to the building’s exterior – the people living inside are very important. What are they comfortable with? Do they like throwing dinner parties? Do they want an exercise room, or a corner to read in? I’m not just going to bring in any furniture that fills the space. I need to know what these people do every day. When they come home from work, where do they want to put their coat and bags? Where will they store their shoes?

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The only decorative material that should absolutely be avoided is ruffles, according to interior designer Saruul Herz.
Credit: Gloss

What common mistakes can people avoid?

Be careful selecting furniture. You don’t want to go out and buy something only to see the same exact thing at a friend’s home. That happens a lot, especially with pieces from big box stores.

In downtown high-rise design, is anything off limits?

The one thing you don’t want to do with these modern buildings is ruffles. Please, don’t do ruffles. If you have a beautiful cottage somewhere in the country then yes, absolutely. But they’re just not city living style.


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