How Concrete Modernized a Former Celebrity-Owned Condo in New York
When a client tapped Homepolish designer Jae Joo to fix up his condo in the Lower East Side, he asked for a bathroom renovation and a light kitchen refresh—nothing more.
But you know how those things go.
“When I first walked in, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. OK, we are only changing the kitchen and bathroom? Why are we even doing this project?’,” remembered Joo.
The condo had been previously owned by actor Seann William Scott—AKA Stifler in American Pie—and its dull walls and orange-y Brazilian wood floors were about as elegant as the film franchise. The only thing salvageable in the place, Joo said, was a metal glass door out to the balcony.
The bones of the 3,700-square-foot condo did have potential, though. While her client and tech entrepreneur David Yaffe was busy traveling for work, Joo was busy transforming his condo room by room. He’d come home, become delighted by Joo’s work, and give her the green light to start ripping up and re-doing another room and another room until eventually the whole place was reborn in black-and-white monochrome.
Yaffe was hands-off to the point that Joo began buying furniture without showing it to him. “A table would arrive, and he would be like, ‘Oh, I like this one’,” Joo laughed. His design needs and wants were short and simple: highlight and display his impressive art collection (including a Liechtenstein, a Keith Haring and multiple Mapplethorpe’s) against clean, white walls with non-competing, minimalist decor.
That “kitchen refresh” turned into an overhaul that would put most New York dining spaces—and even some restaurants—to shame. The dining area and kitchen connect and lead out to the balcony, and doing the cooking area in one finish would have overpowered the room.
So, Joo paired a black marble with white marble, black stools and cabinets with white throw pillows and accents. The contrast is clean, sexy, and begging for a dinner party.
Off of the kitchen, Joo pulled in the same black marble and also a smoked mirror ceiling to create a moody bathroom not unlike what you’d find in the trendy restaurants dotting the neighborhood. The sink weighs a whopping 1,000 pounds and would have required legs for support if Joo hadn’t outright refused to even consider the option and gutted the walls to hoist up a support beam instead.
But did you think one showstopper bathroom was enough for a home of this size?
Prior to starting this renovation, Joo had traveled to Barcelona, where she fell in love with a completely seamless bathroom—no grout, no tiles, no lines, and no noise. The material is called “seamless concrete.” It does great with water, and Joo had it installed on the master bathroom floor, on the guest bathroom walls and floors, and on top of both fireplaces.
“Initially I was like, ‘everything concrete!’,” Joo said. “Then, they told me the price.”
The master bathroom concrete floor has a satin finish and another 1,000-pound piece: a matching concrete tub. Everywhere else has a rough, matte finish, and to keep it from “looking like a hospital,” Joo incorporated plants, rattan chairs, and pillows made of suede, mohair, and rough linen.
Wooden bed frames and a wall of firewood in the home office also help temper the modernness and stave off matchy-matchy cliches. The natural elements are rather unnatural in an urban home, Joo admits, but makes the space feel cozier just by looking at them.
See more photos of the home below.