great room

How This Experimental Theater Was Converted Into an Airy Family Home

Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra made the dining table from planks that they rested on two camera cases.
Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra made the dining table from planks that they rested on two camera cases. Photo: Costas Picadas/New York Magazine
Illustration: Jason Lee

“We had 175 bags of garbage to remove before we could even start fixing up the place,” artist Yasmina Alaoui says of the fourth-floor Bowery loft she rents with her husband, photographer Marco Guerra. Before the couple and their son arrived in 2013, a tenant had lived in the building for 50 years and used it to host experimental theater performances. “When we moved in,” Alaoui says, “there was no kitchen, barely any bathrooms, blue floors, and purple-and-orange ceilings and walls.” 

Those walls came tumbling down, and all the surfaces of the 3,000-square-foot space were whitewashed, bringing light into what now serves as a home and studio. As for the decision to renovate a rental, Alaoui explains, “We got a three-year lease and a slight discount on the rent. We couldn’t find anything suited to our taste, so we didn’t mind the investment. We also wanted to experiment with building. And having what we want is priceless.”

Alaoui, who was born in New York and raised in Paris and Marrakech, says that it was the Moroccan city that really left its mark on her: “It was enchanting, fun, and eccentric,” she recalls, citing her parents’ group of fashionable friends, among them designers Yves Saint Laurent and Fernando Sanchez, whose futons and pillows, which once decorated his apartment in the Osborne here in New York, now hold center court in the loft. “Everything about Fernando was so deep with history,” Alaoui says. “His objects inspire us. Fernando’s home and lifestyle were a great point of reference of how to live a fun, worldly, and generous life.”

*This article appears in the November 30, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

Photo: Costas Picadas

The Living and Dining Area

Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra made the dining table from planks that they rested on two camera cases. The red-on-black painting is by Alaoui, while Guerra’s photographs grace the opposite wall.

Photo: Costas Picadas

The Studio Space

The table is piled with “work and trinkets,” Alaoui says, including paint jars, photographs, and a Moroccan bowl.

Photo: Costas Picadas

Issouan’s Bedroom

A skateboard, tricycle, and basket of toys hang from the ceiling of their son’s room, which, along with the bathroom, is the only enclosed space in the loft.

Photo: Costas Picadas

The Wedding Picasso

Guerra gave Alaoui this Picasso print instead of a diamond ring when he proposed to her in Paris.

Photo: Costas Picadas

The Main Seating Area

The custom-made white linen futons and pillows once belonged to the late fashion designer Fernando Sanchez.

Photo: Costas Picadas

The Master Bedroom

Their bed is tucked behind the working studio space. Guerra made the hanging coral sculpture by the armoire, and every guest who spots it wants one.

Photo: Costas Picadas

View Toward Kitchen and Bathroom

The couple left the original architectural details intact, including the columns and the tin ceiling. Their son’s small Ikea table and chairs are in the foreground.

The Kitchen Area

“We redid the floors, fixed all the walls, painted everything white, added a brand-new bathroom and kitchen, and started cooking immediately to bring back life into the space,” Alaoui says.

How This Theater Turned Into an Airy Family Home