This Designer Traded Water Views for a Light-Filled Loft. Would You?

Vanessa Lawrence
·3-min read
Photo credit: Douglas Friedman
Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

When Jessie Schuster first saw the SoHo loft that she now calls home, the designer was taken with its impeccable renovation, wide-open kitchen, and generous layout. But she still had one qualm: A self-described “beach girl,” she had grown accustomed to vistas of the Hudson River that her previous place, a West Village two-bedroom in a futuristic glass tower, had offered. A landlocked abode made her nervous.

“I get very claustrophobic, so feeling like I can see water or the sky is very important for me, and that was something this loft didn’t have,” explains Schuster, who ultimately traded those views for more space. “But I have to tell you, living here, I don’t miss anything because the light that comes in is just beautiful.”

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman
Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

Schuster’s love affair with her new loft—in a classic cast-iron building—had other hurdles to overcome. Though she got the keys in December 2019, a work trip to Florida turned into an extended stay due to COVID-19. When she returned to SoHo in May 2020, it was to a nearly empty apartment, and many of her planned furniture deliveries were delayed indefinitely.

“It was basically my own private Tracy Anderson studio,” jokes Schuster of the celebrity trainer’s live-streaming fitness endeavors in a bare space.

These days, her workouts have to compete for room with the glamorous, art-filled decor. An elevator opens directly into the living spaces, illuminated by city light that streams through three large windows. Schuster designed her living room around the first piece of furniture she purchased for it—a whimsical, ’90s-era glass cocktail table designed by Parisian duo Garouste and Bonnetti. She surrounded it with Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda modular sofa (upholstered in biscuit-colored upholstery to account for her French bulldog, Blue) and a pair of Harvey Probber chairs, upholstered in a Clarence House tiger print.

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman
Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

“With myself, I can be a bit more whimsical than I can with clients,” Schuster explains. “The Clarence House fabric is very traditional, and then it’s put in a contemporary setting with the art and furniture. That was a risk in and of itself.”

The adjacent dining room is more subdued, but no less refined with its custom white travertine table, vintage Molteni chairs in natural canvas, and a vintage Pietro Chiesa pendant. The nearby open kitchen was a big draw for Schuster, an avid cook who envisioned using it for big dinner parties with friends (though those plans are on hold until the pandemic ends).

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman
Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

A long hallway leads back toward the private spaces, among them a main bedroom whose furnishings, including a mossy green Ligne Roset armchair and matching ottoman, Schuster kept nearly intact from her previous abode. While this bedroom doesn’t receive as much daylight as the living areas, the cozy furnishings and muted colors give it a cocoon-like atmosphere—an effect that has been surprisingly welcome to her.

“I can’t hear a thing—it’s like living in a bunker,” Schuster says. “It’s so quiet and lovely and peaceful. I’m very much okay with it. I never thought in a million years that I would be, but I am. You learn something new, right?”

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