When Mimi Fong and her husband bought this 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath White Plains apartment, it was a non-descript space: long and narrow with poor traffic flow; a tiny kitchen with builder-grade cabinets and Formica counters. The bathrooms were equally dated and the living room had an entire wall of built-in closets while the ones in the bedrooms were cramped. “I was certainly not planning on getting dressed in the living room every day,” Mimi laughs.
After a gut renovation, the designer’s own home is now a reflection of her innate sense of style and a testament to her uncanny ability to transform a utilitarian space into a unique retreat. “It took three months to get all the permits and another four months for construction, but it was worth it,” Mimi says. “The only things that remained were the radiator and the footprint for the hall bath,” she says, noting that it was updated with new fixtures, tiles, and lighting.
The new entry features a gallery wall (Mimi’s collage artwork is reflected in the mirror; the shells are mementos from her scuba-diving trips around the world) and an ingenious coat bench in lieu of the original hall closet—that square footage was used to reorder the kitchen into a sleek and efficient galley format. The living room is a balance of high-end and low: the cowhide leather coffee table with wooden shelf underneath contrasts nicely with the media wall made up of Ikea components.
Mimi turned the original master bedroom into a double home office, annexing closets to create a luxurious bath with a walk-in shower and double vanity in the second bedroom. That wall of closets in the living room, along with a strange little closet at the end of an extraneous hall, were combined to make a spacious walk-in closet. The decorative screen in the corner of the bedroom disguises an odd column.
The building installed new railings on the balcony; the fabulous teak floor was made from tiles that simply snap together. “We found them at the Christmas Tree Shop along with the LED rope lights that are strung around the railing,” Mimi says. “They are of surprisingly good quality and the low price was a bonus!” The dramatic mirror on the wall reflects the cityscape, making the balcony look more spacious. “It is one of my favorite places. We love to dine or sit and read out here, looking out over all of White Plains.”