The Ghana-born, London-raised interior designer Nina Barnieh Blair 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 Motley 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 B&B Italia sofa, and a pair of chairs by Jorge Zalszupin from Espasso add a touch of Brazilian mid-century modern, as does a red Poltrona Frau sofa.