top of page

Project Berkman: A Studio Apartment That Feels Like Home

Welcome to our latest project, a studio apartment at The Berkman in Rochester, MN! In this article, we're going to give you complete transparency on what we did, how we did it, how much it costs, the client's values/desires for the space, and why we chose what we chose, including detailed images.

Good design at Noir & Neutrals is function and beauty; we can design the most beautiful space in the world, but if it doesn't meet the client's lifestyle or match their body movements, it's not a win in our book. Making sure every space and the implied threshold(s) is filled with intent, executed, and is in line with the client's specific needs are crucial.

When we stepped foot into this gorgeous apartment complex in Rochester, we were floored! The complex is stunning and the units have impressive finishes and views. Our client, a new grad student at the Mayo Clinic, recently moved far away from her support system and needed the space to feel a bit homier. Keep reading to learn more about our client's values and the before images.


Let's begin with some details. The space is around 540 sq ft with modern style finishes and a moveable island with a white marble top. Our client's budget was set at a hard cap of $1500. The goal for us was to hit all of our client's values, make it as sustainable as possible, keep the indoor air as clean as possible, and not go over budget (spoiler alert: we didn't! $1460).

Client Values:

  1. Make it feel like home- Our client is not a lover of expensive things but loves it when things look great as well as feel as though it is a true home that can be lived in.

  2. Make friends- Moving away from your support system can be tough so our client wanted to add seating to invite friends over without taking up too much space.

  3. Where to place the plates- Inviting friends over means there may be food and if there's food, you'll need something to place your plate down. Finding a table that will host glasses or plates but doesn't take away from the flow of space was the mission.

  4. Make it colorful- Neutrals are sexy, yes, but spruce it up with some color!

  5. Loose Cords- Cords were of abundance here. Cleaning them up without using distracting strips would be key.

The first thing we did was decide on a style, vibe, and colors that were the best fit for the client. We base this off of one, their favorite colors, and two, their zodiac sign. Yes, their zodiac sign. A student will psychologically need colors to surround them that promote learning, happiness, and relaxation. With this combo, we came to the conclusion of installing a blend of contemporary and modern decor. This allows us to add personality, an array of colors fit for the client, and incorporate clean lines.

Once we determined the style, vibe, and colors, it was time to measure and choose items to install. We looked for companies that used materials that would not emit dangerous gas and abrade particles into the air. This only enhanced our search as we focused on wood, cotton, canvas, water-based finishes, non-radioactive stone, clay finishes, coconut fiber, and wool materials. To help keep the air clean inside of the space, we added four easy to take care of plants (3 Calatheas and 1 Birds of Paradise) by the window to bring life into the space, active certain feng shui principles the client wanted to focus on, and give that home feeling.

You know our saying, "we are our surroundings" so we wanted to ensure the inclusion of medical books, warmth, and a subtle way to show a love for sneakers. Our final install included a warm yellow counter stool from Article, perfect for an extra seat and in our client's favorite color that really ties the space together; a cool magazine out of Seattle which shows stories of 24 Asian American women in the Greater Seattle area; a coconut fiber doormat found on Etsy kindly reminding visitors to keep the sneakers at the door; and medical books on the desk which were not pictured.

Check out the after pictures and let us know how we did! Product information and video (coming soon) can be found below.

Where to buy (prices were increased since installation)*:

Coffee Table


bottom of page