space of the week

A Tribeca Loft With African Touches and Lots of Light

The Ghana-born, London-raised interior designer and her British husband moved from London to New York in 2007. They found a 2,000-square-foot loft in a grand, cast-iron building from 1861 on White Street in Tribeca that had everything going for it — except light.

“We fell in love with the building,” says Barnieh Blair, “but we needed light!” It was 2007, right before the market crashed, when she and her then-boyfriend (now her husband), Magnus Blair, were trying to decide if they would make a permanent move from London. Seeing this loft space helped seal the deal, in spite of the fact that it needed a total rehaul. “We lived in it for about four years before we did the renovation,” Barnieh Blair says. When the couple finally got around to it, the overhaul involved first taking down awkward partitions and walls.

Today the loft is filled with bright color and a blend of African and Scandinavian influences. Donna Wilson’s hand-knitted ottoman, seen above, picks up the colors from an abstract painting (not shown) by 20th-­century Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover, and Blair’s collection of African Dutch wax-print cushions add even more texture. An Arco lamp hangs over the sofa, and a pair of chairs by Jorge Zalszupin from add a touch of Brazilian mid-century modern, as does a red sofa.

Shelving lines the library, just beyond the living-room area, and an original lounge chair adds to the leisurely vibe. A Florence credenza for storage is topped with a black vase from South African woodturner . The black-and-white rug from pulls the corner together. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
The biggest design feat was opening up the outdated kitchen, which had been boxed in behind a wall, hiding the beautiful original Corinthian columns. The elegant result is a pristine painted-glass white kitchen from . The ceiling was dropped to delineate the space from the rest of the open floor. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
Beyond the library, Barnieh Blair put B&B Italia’s Athos table for the family to gather round for meals and entertaining. Series 7 chairs, a classic chair, and a colorful Andy Lovehol Volkswagen print punctuate the space. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
The welcoming corner guest room has Mirror Ball lights hanging on each side of the bed. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
The renovation expanded the master bath by forfeiting an awkward closet. ’s Crescent light hangs above the bathtub. The Ashanti stool was a wedding gift from Barnieh Blair’s family. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
The master bedroom is a quiet retreat with handmade indigo pillows originally from Mali but lights by the bed, and a Norman Cherner chair paired with a mid-century-modern desk found on eBay. stands against the wall, and a Light Shade by hangs by the entrance. Photo: Amy Barkow/Barkow Photo
A Tribeca Loft With African Touches and Lots of Light