Inside a Stylish Upper East Side Home Fine-Tuned for Modern Living



Designer Noha Hassan creates a modern home for a young family on the Upper East Side. Noha Hassan isn’t the first decorator to have made a career switch to interior design—but the move came more easily to her than it has to many others. “I wasn’t scared,” recalls Hassan, who previously worked in the high-pressure world of banking. “I’d managed my way through eight years in finance already, which is very high risk, and I brought those years of experience with me. Although I still had to learn as I went along.”

In the case of Hassan, the transition has been an unqualified success: Her decidedly modernist, minimalist interiors somehow remain warm and livable at the same time. “There’s a misconception that modern design can’t be inviting,” she says, “but you can achieve so many looks—the possibilities are wide open.” The decorator, who was born in Egypt and has lived in Jeddah, Luxembourg, Brussels, London, and now New York, is exceedingly flexible no matter what environment she takes on, including the formerly stodgy Upper East Side apartment featured on these pages.

When Hassan met her clients—a married couple, both doctors, with a son and a daughter—they had recently moved to a bigger place on a higher floor in the same building. The directive: Transform the three-bedroom, four-bath abode into a stylish home, fine-tuned for modern living. They wanted minimal, but not cold; livable, but not lived-in; and nothing obstructing their endless views.

The project took just five weeks to complete, with Hassan adhering to a less-is-more approach—in part because of the children. “When you have young kids, you need space to move around—and for all their stuff,” says the designer, a mother of two herself. She paid special attention to the children’s bedrooms, crafting sophisticated havens that are fun, but not too juvenile. “I don’t like kids’ rooms to be too ‘kiddie.’ I prefer to create spaces they can grow into.”

Not that Hassan is beyond whimsy. Consider the master bedroom’s funky tufted Positano bed from Baxter, with its delightfully bulbous Seussian charcoal-gray headboard. (It had been in the clients’ possession already.) Paired with a red rope Vermelha chair, it transforms the space into a seductive, sensuous retreat. Pendant lighting throughout the apartment amplifies its air of urban cool, from Foscarini’s Big Bang fixture in the dining room to Flos’s Zeppelin in the master bedroom and Moooi’s Heracleum II in the daughter’s room. “They’re all so dramatic—they draw you in,” offers Hassan, already an expert at drawing people in, despite having had just a couple of design classes under her belt before taking on full-tilt projects such as this one. “I really love seeing the transformation on clients’ faces when they see how comfortable and livable their home can be.”

A version of this article appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Noha's Arc.

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Christian Rae Studio
Christian Rae Studio, LLC is a multi-disciplinary design firm located in Southport, CT. Since 2010, we have delivered projects representing a broad range of type, scale, and budget considerations. Our combined technical and creative skills enable us to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation. The collaboration between architecture, interiors and lighting design is an approach that results in a holistic and integrated project that is thoughtfully tailored to each site and client.


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Jason Thomas Architect

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Haver and Skolnick Architects
Haver & Skolnick Architects creates award-winning homes of timeless design, providing personal service & impeccable attention to detail. For 22 years, Charles Haver, AIA and Stewart Skolnick, AIA have offered a single source for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, creating seamless environments which are a reflection of their clients’ personalities. The firm has been nationally recognized for comfortable, classic country homes and elegant apartments which reflect history while responding to a contemporary lifestyle.


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The team at Davenport Contracting has over 35 years of experience building and renovating homes. Our business model has always been based on building/renovating for a specific customer. A collaborative environment includes the client, architect, interior designer and Davenport crew. Davenport maneuvers effortlessly between custom homes, smaller renovations and property management. The team’s project management skills transfer seamlessly and the goal is to deliver your vision!


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Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

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