4 Secrets to Becoming a Top NYC Designer with Sofia Feldman
We know New York as the city that never sleeps. When the sun rises over Manhattan, it’s not waking the eight million plus people who live there, it’s simply turning on the lights for the busiest city in the world…
Each morning, you’ll find Sofia Feldman heading out of her lobby for another day on the job; a day that may take her anywhere from a photo shoot in midtown to a client-meeting in a luxury apartment on Fifth Avenue to, as it often does, our showroom to discuss her latest vision. She is focused, fabulous and fun – the epitome of a fast-paced busy designer in the city. Which means she’s also in high demand.
But that’s not all: Ms. Feldman has been acclaimed as one of the best high-end “Structural Interior Designers” in New York City. Her spaces are modern, sophisticated and artfully designed. And her versatile flair is unmatched despite the fierce competition in her field. She is a one-stop shop for exclusive clients of global stature around the world. From full gut-job renovations to the last detail of artwork, working with Sofia brings an assurance that when she’s finished, you’ll be living in the luxurious space of your dreams.
Today, she shares it all: How she rose to the top, what a makeover is really made of and why she loves Carlisle.
The Guidelines to Finding Success in New York City
1. Follow Your Passion
C: Our wide-plank specialists love working with you and were thrilled when we told them about our interview. So let’s talk about your background: Where are you originally from, and how did you become a designer in Manhattan?
SF: (With a laugh) Well, I was born and raised in New York, but my family moved to Florida when I was just out of high school. I continued my accounting studies, but after two years I realized I was bored out of my mind. The whole thing was a culture shock and I felt very lost. It was terrible.
One day, my father pulled me aside and suggested I go to design school. It wasn’t something I’d ever considered, but he then pointed out all these things I’d been doing my entire life that indicated that I had a natural talent. And he was right; I was meant to be a designer, I just didn’t see it. As fate would have it, I didn’t practice design right away; I actually lived abroad for most of my adult life. But the passing of my father in 1996 brought me back to Florida, and it was then that I began my design career.
“My dad saw the designer in me my before I did; he knew I had it. He’s the reason that any of this ever started.”
I took a job working in the model home sales office for a big developer. I loved working with the clients and thrived on bringing their vision to life. What started as selecting finishes quickly escalated to reconfiguring floor plans. And before I knew it, I was involved in every aspect of the design process from start to finish. I really learned a lot during this time, and honed in on my contracting skills.
I got married and we relocated back to the city. My broker saw my finished apartment and turned to me and asked, “Oh my God, can I use you for my clients?” And that’s how my design career in New York City all began.
2. Be selective when it comes to clients.
C: Speaking of which, you are one of the top designers in New York, and you are one of the very few female designers AND contractors in the city – how does this set you apart from your competition?
SF: All of my business comes by word-of-mouth; that is my edge. My clients are sold on my work before they even meet me, and I think every designer dreams of that. When someone says, “So-and-so referred me and told me to just let you do your thing”, you then have the complete freedom to really acclimate to their space and make it about them, which leads to really great design. I just talked to a client who lives on Broadway who confessed that the five star hotels around the world no longer compare to the luxurious comfort of their own home. And I have another client on the upper west side, whose apartment is featured on my website, whose renovation has changed her life.
C: That IS the best. We’re looking at this project right now and it’s stunning. How did you guide your client with this renovation?
SF: She’s lived in her apartment for about 15 years and is the original owner. She wasn’t sure where to start, or where to invest her money, but I told her what I’d tell any of my clients: If you’re going to do it, do it all and do it right. And naturally, that means starting with a beautiful floor. For me, flooring is everything. People don’t realize that it’s the foundation of your entire home, and if you can find something you really love, everything else will fall into place. So I brought her at least 15 samples of flooring, which seemed a little daunting, and tough to envision what it would look like throughout. We fell in love with the White Oak and put it through the entire space. Just running the same floor throughout creates a seamless design. And White Oak is my personal favorite tree and flooring to specify – I love everything about it. And now, so does my client.
4. Don’t be afraid to tear down walls
C: We can only imagine… the entire space is wowing us just by the picture.
SF: Yes, originally there was just a tiny alcove with a 3 foot opening to the apartment, which felt dark and small. I doubled the size and lacquered the ceiling to create a very reflective effect. So now, when she walks in, she is ushered by natural light. She is just amazed by how big, open and bright we made her entrance. It’s no longer a small, dark apartment with dark floors. The transformation of her space has completely changed her life; so much so that she regularly texts me just to tell me how much she loves her home.
Sofia, thank you for sharing your story and your design talent with us! You inspire us all to keep doing what we love, because as long as we do, the sky’s the limit.
View more of Sofia’s work on her beautifully jaw-dropping portfolio at http://www.creativedesignsbysofia.com
Download a catalog today to be inspired by floors that could serve as the foundation for your very own design.
Photography Sourced from http://www.creativedesignsbysofia.com/portfolio/#/upper-west-side/