Decorating & Design

July 26, 2023

A Design Collab Between Friends Results In A Reimagined Family Home

Jo Levitan and Maayan Kessler have the easy rapport of friends who’ve known each other since they were teens. They chat like sisters, swap advice and share inspiration. They even became mothers around the same time five years ago. So, when Jo came across a midtown Tudor-style house with six bedrooms and irresistible heritage charm in a good school district, she called Maayan to see if she might be interested in collaborating on the design. “We’d always talked about working together,” says Maayan, “but nothing had been firmly decided,” adds Jo. “Eventually, the stars aligned.”

The listing came through at the height of the pandemic, when Jo and her husband, Sam Lipson, weren’t actively looking to move from their downtown Victorian — they were too busy wrangling their daughters while Sam, a restaurateur, also worked toward opening Manita, his latest restaurant. Jo wrote off the viewing, but Sam insisted they take a look. “It was the first and only house we saw,” she says. When Jo and Maayan discussed the design project, it was clear they were on the same page: the look would be modern European — they’d keep enough of the original architecture to preserve the character, then gut the rest. Although Maayan leans toward an open, modern look while Jo skews traditional, “we come together on a lot of our aesthetic choices,” says Jo. “And if we’re both crazy about something, we know it’s got to be good.”

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Author: Ellen Himelfarb

Lauren Miller


Maayan Kessler and Jo Levitan