Finding the Ideal Apartment Was Easy. Making It Theirs Was Harder.

Some people spend years looking for the right home. For New Yorkers Dan Mazzarini and Andy Grover, it took about 10 minutes.

In the summer of 2019, after learning that the rent on their apartment in Greenwich Village was about to go up, they decided it was time to move. They walked down the block, turned into the lobby of an attractive looking co-op on a whim and asked the doorman if any apartments were available.

“He said, ‘Well, something on the ninth floor is definitely coming available,’” said Mr. Mazzarini, 42, the owner of the interiors firm BHDM Design. The former resident of the sponsor unit had recently died.

“He brought us up to the apartment right then,” said Mr. Grover, 43, a founder of Tend, a dental start-up.

Dan Mazzarini, left, and Andy Grover bought and renovated a co-op apartment down the block from their former rental in Manhattan.Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

When they walked into the 900-square-foot unit, they couldn’t believe their eyes. Because the building is taller than its neighbors, the apartment had windows to the north and east that brought in abundant natural light and offered long views over Manhattan.

“It was very much original condition, but there were views of the Empire State Building,” Mr. Grover said. There was also a fireplace.

Thrilled, they moved quickly to buy it. But as Mr. Mazzarini and Mr. Grover entered negotiations, they learned that the freight elevator would be out of commission for months, which would prevent them from beginning a renovation until well after their closing date.

The couple were unable to find an acceptable solution with the seller, and the deal fell apart. So they pivoted to signing a one-year lease for a rental on the same block.

They tried to put the apartment out of their minds — right up until their new lease was set to expire during the depths of the pandemic. After watching so many New Yorkers leave the city, Mr. Mazzarini and Mr. Grover realized it was an ideal time to buy.

They walked back to the co-op, greeted the same doorman who had shown them the apartment and asked if it was still available. It was — and the freight elevator had been fixed.

The asking price was $1.7 million, but after more negotiation, the couple bought it in January 2021 for about $1.3 million, roughly $200,000 less than they were going to pay in 2019.

The couple demolished walls that enclosed a space described as a second bedroom, creating an open dining room. The ceiling light fixture is from France & Son, and the bust was a find on Chairish. Credit…Adam Macchia

After closing, they began planning a gut renovation with help from Scott Melching, an architect and friend.

“We were looking to simplify and create something that would really be a respite for us,” Mr. Mazzarini said. “We designed it as a light and bright box, but with traditional details that match the original character of the building.”

Their biggest move was demolishing the walls around a room between the living room and kitchen that was described as a second bedroom on the floor plan but had been used as a dining room. Now the living room and dining area are combined, creating one large space.

In the foyer, they concealed two closets behind jib doors that blend into the walls, leaving space for a gallery wall where they could mount art collected during their travels.

“In all the spaces we’ve created together, the entry has always been the place we’ve done these more-is-more moments related to our travels,” Mr. Mazzarini said.

In the living room, they kept the existing mantel and installed a cabinet beside the fireplace that conceals a TV lift, so the screen can be hidden when they’re not using it. Behind a custom sofa and coffee table that Mr. Mazzarini designed, they installed a wall of built-in shelving with a ceiling cove detail that mimics the home’s existing ceilings. Cabinets along the bottom of the unit include a pair of doors with metal-mesh fronts that were supposed to open to a sleeping space for their dog, Merle.

“That lasted exactly one night,” Mr. Mazzarini said. “The dog just sleeps wherever he wants now, and that’s where we keep his toys.”

Mr. Mazzarini designed the cerused oak bed and worked with a furniture maker he found on Etsy to have it built. The grasscloth wall covering is from Innovations.Credit…Adam Macchia

In the kitchen, they installed a mix of cabinets finished in off-white paint and glossy dark mahogany, along with white Arabescato marble counters and a pantry with reeded-glass doors.

In the bedroom, where there was only a tiny closet, they added built-in wardrobes on either side of a window, leaving space for a desk in between.

The total renovation cost was about $300,000. During construction, which was completed in November 2021, Mr. Mazzarini and Mr. Grover moved into the Marlton Hotel for five months, which they said was not as much fun as it sounds.

At BHDM, “many of our residential clients ask for their homes to look like their favorite hotels, and our hotel clients want to make things feel residential,” Mr. Mazzarini said.

“I don’t know if we lived in a hotel for too long, or I designed too many hotels,” he continued, but there’s no question about the apartment he designed with Mr. Grover: This one is most definitely a home.

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