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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.”

We continued this theme by hanging photographs in white matte frames around the kitchen nook and dressing area. While custom framing is always surprisingly expensive, using your own photographs adds personality and nothing to the bill. Nicole says: “I like to lean art as well as gang it around an apartment. Ledges or unused corners are great for propped pieces. Don’t be afraid to layer them as well. The mix of both propped and hung art gives a space a relaxed, un-decorated cool vibe.” Most importantly, “Fanciness is overrated. Decorate your home for yourself, not for your imaginary guests. You have to live there.  Decorate with things you love, and invest in pieces that mean something to you. That way you will want to find a place for them in all your future homes. People in NYC always think that they’re always going to move to the next place so they don’t to spend the time or money to decorate their current one. Buy pieces that you can take with you from home to home, like art.”

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They say timing is everything in life, and just as apocalyptic predictions for a severe Nor’easter storm were headed straight for New York, I packed up my swimsuits, sandals and sun lotion into a carry-on bag and accepted an invitation to the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis.

Nevis is the smaller sister island of St. Kitts in the West Indies and unlike its neighboring isles to the North and South, this little jewel of an island is relatively untouched and off the beaten beach-goer path. There are precious few resorts on the island and the Four Seasons is the standard bearer for luxury.

The Four Seasons in Nevis celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. As the first luxury resort on the island, it put Nevis on the map for the international beach loving set.

Tibetan Socks

Back when I was a little babe in the USSR, my grandmother used to knit all the time. She made scarves, hats, sweaters, the works. I loved sitting near her on the sofa while she artfully spun her needles, the smell of boiled potato soup wafting from the stove. When we moved to America, I had in my suitcase one pair of my grandma’s knit socks. I used to wear them to sleep every night. Years passed and they became threadbare. I sadly said goodbye to this vestige of Granny.

So when I discovered Tibetan Socks, a line of socially-conscious hand knit wool socks, I immediately remembered Grandma Rita. Tibetan Socks are hand-made in the Himalayas where women knit them in village communities. This handicraft work offers the women an extra source of family income while allowing them to stay home with their children. Each pair of Tibetan Socks gives back by providing school lunches and tuition sponsorship for students from impoverished communities in India, Nepal, and Tibet.

I love my cozy Tibetan Socks – they’re perfect for keeping feet toasty, especially on wintery wood floors. Bali ate the first pair of mine, so I ended up with another – each pair being unique – no two are exactly alike.

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Is there any place quite like New York for the holidays? Every December I fall in love with the city all over again, enchanted by the window displays on Fifth Avenue, ice-skating in Central Park, the giant craft fair just around the corner from my apartment in Union Square, which greets me in the morning with a nose-full of spiced apple cider and fresh pine.

The sparkling tree in Rockefeller Center is a reminder that I’ve got to get busy with my holiday shopping. There are so many people on my gift list that I can spend whole weekends in the lead up to Christmas running around town searching for the perfect presents. I’m glad I’ve added these Minnetonka Moccasins to my arsenal of comfortable footwear this Winter. Who didn’t have a pair of Minnetonka Moccasins as a kid? I had a pair of brown suede ones that I wore throughout most of Middle School.

I just picked up these furry moccasins that have me feeling like my younger self again. They’re basically like wearing your favorite pair of slippers out of the house in a socially acceptable way. They’re my new easy go-to choice to keep my feet toasty on subway treks and late night walks around the block with Bali. They also pair perfectly with my shearling coat and every pair of jeans from my closet.

And because it’s the giving season, Minnektonka and I have a gift for you: Spend $80 on MinnetonkaMoccasin.com and receive a fringe clutch with purchase, while supplies last.

Use code: INDIE at check out. Offer ends 12/20/15.

Morning Gloryville

It’s not typical to receive an invitation to a party that starts at 6:30AM, a time when I am still in the unconscious throes of REM sleep. But last week, still bleary-eyed and decaffeinated, I was slumped in the back seat of a cab headed to a rave downtown as the sun was just rising over the East River. It seems like one of those “only in New York” moments, but it’s not: morning raves are taking the world by storm and NYC.

was just one stop on the love train ‘round the globe. Morning Gloryville was in town for one morning only, bringing the glitter and lamé out into sunlight hours.

I was already running a bit late because I had taken a while to figure out what to wear to a morning rave immediately followed by a work day of client meetings. Everyone knows about day-to-evening wear, but morning rave-to-office attire is still a novel concept. On the other hand, sharing an office with Nylon means that there is little distinction between office and nightclub wear among most employees. So after some extended deliberation, my outfit ultimately consisted of a tank top, jeans, and a flower crown. Not the most wild, but again: 6AM.

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The music was thumping when I walked in at quarter to 7. The dance floor was already half full with gyrating bodies. I am not a superhero so I need coffee before my body moves in any semblance of coordination.

In addition to free coffee and fruit-infused water by St. Ives, Morning Gloryville had fresh juices, wakeup massage stations, and some crazy yoga to help get your body loose naturally for some ecstatic movement. I’m not sure I’m uninhibited enough to dance with strangers without at least one cocktail but that didn’t stop anyone else from shaking it like tequila shots were half off.

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After dancing your butt off, you could head to the bathroom, stocked with St. Ives face scrubs and body lotions, to clean yourself up before calling it a morning, taking off your flower crown and walking to work, EDM beats still bouncing in your head.

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