Combine highbrow Italian design and mass-produced furnishings

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

When Ken Foreman moved into a rented 1,000-square-foot duplex in New York's Greenwich Village, the place made him see red. "Red was a color used a lot in the Victorian period, but I tried to give it a modern twist," says the designer. In these tight new quarters, he uses red as a way of drawing the eye across the living room, through the dining area, and out to the small terrace greenhouse—a visual sweep that makes it all seem roomier.

Juxtaposing highbrow Italian design and affordable mass-produced furnishings, Ken was able to create a streamlined environment whose elements are highly utilitarian. For example, the stained-pine dining table, by B&B Italia, doubles as a workbench on which he can study blueprints.

Identical rugs under the dining and cocktail tables ensure continuity and enlarge the scale, as do the slight B&B Italia sofa, the armless (and seemingly weightless) Cappellini chair, and the Marcel Wanders light fixture from Moooi.
Ken Foreman's minimalist bedroom

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

Ken chose light, airy furniture because "it makes the space seem much larger than it is." He also found multiple uses for as many pieces as possible. Take for instance, the colorful storage containers on the bookshelves in his bedroom: they're arranged as an homage to the minimalist Donald Judd, one of Ken's favorite artists.

For others thinking about living smaller, Ken suggests focusing on how everything will flow. "Don't get hung up on keeping the furniture you have, beware of clutter, and do a lot of editing," he says. "The hardest part of a small space is organization. My tendency is to leave little messes around, but you can't do that—hide everything."
The Rakks shelving system features an Ikea foldout desk.

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

Both Ken and his wife, Danielle Brooks, a direct-marketing executive, work from home. He gets the downstairs, while Danielle has an office on the second floor, next to the master bedroom and bath. "It's not an enforced thing," he says. "With a duplex, there's a lot of privacy without a closed door."

Ken recommends finding multiple uses for as many pieces as possible. The Rakks shelving system above features an Ikea foldout desk.