In a 19th-century spice warehouse turned into loft apartments, a couple’s art collection takes pride of place.

Original details were preserved in this Tribeca warehouse converted to lofts. Designer Rona Landman topped original brickwork with a sleek stone fireplace. In the foreground, a Fornasetti vase shares a tabletop with fresh flowers.

You wouldn't know it at a glance, but this airy Manhattan home is the product of down-sizing. With just one son left under their wing—and he with “one foot out the door”—the homeowners were near-empty-nesters, so they traded a Greenwich Village apartment on lower Fifth Avenue for a loft in Tribeca.

"The couple didn't want to bring much with them," says designer Rona Landman, "except for their really good art collection." And so she was given the brief of creating a home more or less from scratch.

In the main living space, colors were kept neutral to favor the homeowners’ vibrant artwork. A controversial choice at first, the thick, pure white alpaca rug has proven to be stain resistant and durable.

One full floor in a late 19th-century spice warehouse, the loft preserved some charming architectural details—a massive wood beam supported by iron columns and a wall of exposed raw brick. Landman’s team actually distressed the brick even further, then layered it with a contemporary fireplace with a sleek stone surround.

In furnishing the space, her first rule was to keep the choices neutral so the art would stand out. Her second rule was to use spare window treatments, so natural light would be maximized. Beyond that, eclecticism reigned. Much of the furniture and most of the accessories came from Safavieh.

Was it difficult to please the owners, with their discerning eye for art? No, says, Landman, but one item was a tough sell: a pure white, real alpaca rug. "This natural rug is incredibly durable, but the homeowners suspected that it wasn't," she says. "We tested it for stain resistance, and it passed." You might say the thick, luxe rug provides the perfect platform for the main living area of a modern loft.

The spacious dining area can host a dinner party of most any size. Because the old spice warehouse faces another building that blocks the sun, Landman kept the window treatments simple so as to maximize natural light.

In the home office, a Biedermeier chair meets a glass-topped, stainless steel desk.