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This Chic Chelsea Loft Incorporates (Nearly) 50 Shades of Gray

by Rick Anderson

When architect and interior designer Neal Beckstedt first stepped foot inside this light-filled loft, the single gentleman living here had been settled into his Chelsea abode since before its last renovations in the 1980s. While living in the same home for over 20 years could certainly inspire reasonable attachment for any resident, this client was remarkably relaxed and receptive when a series of cosmetic updates evolved into a total transformation by Beckstedt. The pair’s relationship began with casual advice on paint colors, but eventually, a complete gut renovation project was underway, leaving nothing untouched aside from the loft’s pleasingly symmetrical layout. “He saw the value of what we suggested and he kept saying yes,” says Beckstedt.

The long-overdue upgrade commenced with a generous coat of White Dove paint by Benjamin Moore throughout. “I could tell very early on that he loves gray and darker accents, but it’s all about contrast,” Beckstedt explains. “To make the dark work, you need to balance that with a brighter white or it gets too muted and gloomy.” With a fresh, bright canvas to work with, Beckstedt introduced an industrial vibe by exposing the home’s original, raw steel columns, as well as the overhead sprinkler pipes.

Beckstedt adhered to a very tight palette of grays and woods to create consistency from room to room, but he still managed to infuse each space with interest and personality by layering in a variety of textures. “I love mixing things, whether it’s fabrics—nubby versus smooth—or furniture—antiques versus super-contemporary. I think it makes a space that feels more timeless,” he says. Beckstedt’s addition of several bespoke furniture pieces he designed himself does even more to give new life to his client’s well-lived loft. “Once he saw where it was going, the thought became, ‘While we’re doing this, let’s make sure it’s set for another 20 years,’” Beckstedt recalls.

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