Decorating an apartment is an anxiety inducing experience for me. I agonize over hundreds of coffee table options. Whereas some curate Pinterest lists for every occasion and tabletop in their home, I get overwhelmed with an endless scroll of choices. In the face of so many decisions, I decide not to do anything. I’ve decided to partner with Corcoran to tell my story of what inspired my home… for more inspiration visit their new blog inhabit.corcoran.com.
I moved into my Union Square apartment a year ago. It was the first time I was living alone, in my own space, since I arrived in New York a nearly penniless undergrad from Ohio. I had just gone through a separation and left with custody of our Chow Chow and marriage bed. For the first few months, the bed was the only piece of furniture in the apartment. I held out on fully decorating the home, first because I wasn’t sure if this move was permanent and then because I would rather spend money on shoes than a dining table. And when you live in New York, a dining table is probably the last thing you need in your apartment when the best Thai restaurant is a few blocks away. But after a few months of living exclusively on my bed, I got motivated to start shopping for a sofa.
I scoured for weeks trying to find one that would fit the awkward indented wall space. I had originally wanted a sectional, but the first one I tried to buy wouldn’t fit through my door, which is apparently more narrow than other standard doorways? Strange but true. I browsed Craigslist for hours, hoping to casually encounter the couch of my dreams. I finally found one at ABC Home, a vintage-looking brown leather two-seater that while more than I was initially planning to spend, gave the apartment a feeling of being a “grown up” home. And for about eight months, that was the entirety of the home décor. But as I started to feel more secure and independent, I wanted to create a space that both reflected who I was and felt like a sanctuary away from the hectic city outside my door.
My friend Nicole Cohen, an interior designer and artist, offered to help me. I didn’t have a huge budget to spend on furniture or art, and we were able to transform my space by finding pieces that complimented what I already had. We began by working to create a color palette based on the existing furniture. One place to start if you’re not sure what colors you like is to “look at
the favorite colors in your wardrobe and you’ll be naturally drawn to similar colors for your home interior,” Nicole says. In my case, that meant muted rose pinks accents mixed with white and black.
“Not everything has to match, but look for at least one color match. There’s no rule on combining colors with textures, though if you have a neutral palette, then you need more textures. Burlap plays with wicker, and then leather and hide, all natural textures in the same color scheme. So everything in this apt is rooted in the same few colors but with different fabrics and materials. Don’t match your metallics, if you have an overwhelming amount of gold, then a bronze may look out of place versus mixing many.”
Because the apartment is laid out as a studio, Nicole wanted to focus on creating living “sections” while keeping the space as open as possible. One way to do this is delineating with rugs. We created a “living area” with a big cowhide from Overstock. The gold coffee table from West Elm added a bit of glam to the space and we balanced out the straight lines with a circular knit chair I’ve had from Urban Outfitters for years.
Previously my apartment had only blank walls and was as artless as an H&R Block. Art and personal items are what transform a house (or in my case, an apartment) into a home. Nicole gifted me the painting that now hangs above the sofa. It added life and warmth to the space, while also giving the distinct impression that an adult was living here. You don’t have to go to Christie’s or some downtown gallery to buy art – art can be anything. “Frame family heirlooms, don’t be afraid to call something art. Hang a cheese board and it becomes art,” Nicole advises. If you have artist friends, buy them dinner once in a while and they’ll probably give you something. Hanging art low is best around sitting areas so that the piece is in eye view, a very non-traditional thing to do, but best for smaller areas.”