How do you bring drama to a surplus of drywall? In the capable hands of the ambitious young designer Darren Jett, the founder of Manhattan firm Jett Projects, what could have been seen as an apartment’s lack (of history, or character, or charm) was spun into a series of svelte virtues, creating a streamlined oasis high above the city below.
For the clients, a young couple purchasing their first home together, the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn promised space, privacy, and a spate of affordable new developments. The three-bedroom unit they found, in a recently completed building along a busy thoroughfare, lacked the personality of a classic brownstone. But it more than made up for it in proximity to transportation (both commute into Manhattan for work) as well as amenities like a doorman, his-and-hers sinks in the primary bathroom, and a kitchen island. For Jett, who established his firm in June 2020, the project presented a unique challenge: how to take those necessities to the next level.
Function, funnily enough, came first, balanced with the need to entertain friends. (The couple has been known to hire a chef for dinner parties, and thankfully now has the space to do so.) That meant unifying the communal living and dining areas at the front of the apartment, defined by a series of elegant, arched windows, and thoughtfully organizing the space to accommodate guests.
A custom, inky-black Nero Marquina marble table in the dining area offers striking contrast to the white marble of the adjacent open-concept kitchen. In the living room, the channeled sectional sofa, another custom build, runs the length of the far wall. “It’s comfortable, but it had to be sophisticated too,” Jett says.
The arched windows were painted black for graphic impact and to better frame the view. Arches and ovals were then iterated throughout the home as a motif. Each room received floor-to-ceiling window treatments that are color matched to the walls for a “womblike” effect, especially appreciable in the private quarters at the back of the apartment, which receive less light.
In the dove-gray primary suite, a wainscoting-inspired carved Antigua Verde marble headboard with built-in side tables steals the show—and rightfully so. The piece required that one slab of marble be cut down into three and reassembled on-site. “I was crying and biting my nails the entire time,” Jett says. The execution was seamless.
Dual lounges were created from two of the three bedrooms, one with a TV and one with “space to unfurl a yoga mat,” the logic of corporate breakout rooms reimagined for the domestic interior, providing each of the homeowners with dedicated space for “me time.” And while the project began in January 2021, “there’s nothing that COVID prevented me from doing,” Jett is quick to note.
The couple initially resisted the idea of incorporating family heirlooms, but a parental move freed up a few choice pieces of art and decor—antique screens in the dining room, vases—that, seen through fresh eyes, now bring a few more layers of personal history to the space. “It’s small, but it’s intentional,” Jett says. “To give it some soul.”
That sense of intentionality echoes throughout the apartment, part and parcel with Jett’s narrative-first approach to design, honed during his tenure at companies including ASH NYC and the ELLE DECOR A-List firm of Rafael de Cárdenas.
“[This work] is not just about practicalities,” he reflects. “It’s a feeling—that feeling of getting into the club you’ve been trying to get into for so long. Suddenly your shoulders go back, and you’re confident because of how you feel in that space,” Jett continues. “I want my clients to always feel like that—like the best versions of themselves."