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. 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.

How This Theater Turned Into an Airy Family Home