Designer Alyssa Kapito transforms an elegant abode inside a former Manhattan school.
Boucle armchairs by Fritz Hansen from 1stDibs, a Georges Jouve ashtray table and a coffee table from Valerie Goodman Gallery in the living room
Alyssa Kapito, founder of Alyssa Kapito Interiors, was called to a somewhat unusual project— turning part of an old Manhattan school into a beautiful living space. “555 West End Ave. is a gorgeous historic condo conversion with a unique backstory and incredible bones,” Kapito says. “The home we designed is expansive—spanning about 3,500 square feet—so we had a great starting point with plenty of space and natural light.” The condo is one of 13 in the restructured building.
Transforming a space into what’s almost the complete opposite of its original purpose is no small task. Luckily, the bones of the school were just what Kapito needed for a successful redesign. “We used the home’s elegant, clean foundation as the jumping-off point and added cool pieces to create more character and personality,” she says. “We added a fireplace, unique lighting fixtures, textured wallpaper, exclusive art and much more.” While the character of the original space still remains, it’s difficult to tell this home used to be a school.
“I like to use neutral backgrounds and colors throughout the spaces I design to create a strong base and give art and furniture a chance to speak for themselves,” Kapito says.
“One of the biggest unforeseen challenges with this project was the pandemic,” Kapito says. “We started this project right before COVID hit the U.S. and were able to start installation right as the vaccine became available, so this was truly a project envisioned during COVID. We were lucky to have taken lots of pictures and measurements of the project before COVID, so we could get a lot of the work [done] without being physically present inside the home.” Plus, Kapito and her team needed to adjust to a different schedule than they were used to working. “The timeline for this project was unique because we began working on it at the start of the COVID pandemic, so there was a stretch of a few months when we had to do everything virtually,” she says. “When we were able to begin installing in person, it was so wonderful to see our vision come to life in the space.”
Pipe Hang lighting fixtures from The Urban Electric Co. in the kitchen and Crucible chairs by Dan Johnson for Shelby Williams from 1stDibs
Kapito drew inspiration from the school’s original aesthetic to achieve the desired result. “The client was looking for a peaceful, calming design that would reflect the tranquil palette already present in 555 West End Ave. and create a serene oasis for them to come home to,” she says. “I like to use neutral backgrounds and colors throughout the spaces I design to create a strong base and give art and furniture a chance to speak for themselves.” Throughout the abode, dark colors are sparingly used. Th e living room is a cream-colored oasis, very clearly accomplishing the serene ambiance Kapito’s client wished for. Other rooms continue this theme, with striking white oak floors in the hallways and white oak cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
In the kitchen, “Saut dans le Vide” (1960) by Yves Klein sourced from Sean Kelly Gallery.
“Because the space already had a beautiful neutral background, it was a no-brainer for me to bring in very unique art and antiques that add exciting character to the space,” Kapito says. Accents of light gray, brown, black and shades of blue pop up throughout. The kitchen’s cohesion of various materials and colors is impeccable—an Arabescato marble slab backsplash and countertop brings the cream colors of the rest of the home to light.
The bathroom features Lefroy Brooks fixtures and a stool by Pierre Chapo from Magen H Gallery.
Dark blue and black seating grounds the room and distinguishes it from the floating feeling of the rest of the residence. In the living room, an artistic wooden coffee table from Valerie Goodman Gallery sits between a plush sofa and two soft armchairs by Fritz Hansen, creating an inviting, relaxing environment.
Kapito incorporated unique art and vintage pieces that add character to the space.
In the rest of the household, herringbone floors in the halls bring a touch of elegance to the space that’s dotted with modern, contemporary and vintage-inspired furniture.
An untitled work by Idris Khan from Sean Kelly Gallery hangs above a game table.
Location: Upper West Side
Interior Design Alyssa Kapito, Alyssa Kapito Interiors
Plasterwork Highline Construction Group
Millwork Arbor Mills
Artist by Nature
Bedroom table lamps
Carl-Axel Acking, Hostler Burrows
Home office desk
Castro Custom Cabinetry
Living room rug
Holland & Sherry
Living room curtains
John Goodyear, Berry Campbell Gallery
Some living room artwork
Primary bedroom curtains
Pipe hanging fixtures in kitchen
Photography by: Photographed by Joshua McHugh