CB's Quirky & Personal Duplex

House Tour

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Name: CB Owens, NYU grad student in Food Studies, and Catering Sales Manager at ’wichcraft
Location: West Village; New York, New York
Size: 450 square feet, plus rooftop terrace
Years lived in: 4+ years; Rented

I first met CB way back in our days as undergraduates at NYU, where "home style" had everything to do with outfoxing the limitations set upon you by countless questionable roommates, inadequate wall space, awkward 80" bed frames (what the heck were those all about?), and the rules of the residence life office. Seeing CB's current digs was truly a pleasure: this is a place that thoroughly relays the warmth, intelligence, and playfully quirky spirit of its inhabitant.

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It could be argued that the word "personal" would apply to just about anyone's private space, but it seems to me to be particularly apt here. Walking into CB's space immediately provides a view of his boundless curiosity at work. Everywhere there is something to consider: collected images arranged on the wall, unique books and magazines, colorful object vignettes, and comfortable-yet-chic furniture.

I always like to ask about previous home style history, and when CB and I discussed his previous apartment, he said it was completely bare and had almost no decoration or arrangement at all. It wasn't until he began to read Apartment Therapy that he started to consider the impact his space had on him. When he moved into this apartment and began to work from home, he started to create projects for himself, paid more attention to how his collections were arranged, and everything began to come together. He now takes great pleasure in designing and rearranging the elements of his home, in order to create a space that is simultaneously comfortable and energetic, and entirely reflective of the things, people, and places that he values and holds dear.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: One of my friends calls it “bachelor pad maximalism,” but I would just go with “gay pack rat.”

Inspiration: My style has drawn from Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s private apartments; Wim Crouwel posters; the ’90s; Hoefler & Frere-Jones typefaces; Gourmet magazine; Bedford Street; Nørrebro; designers Nick Olsen and Bill Brockschmidt; Grumpy Cat (my spirit animal); Apartment Therapy house tours; my very talented and creative friends: Kristy Schiro, Jane Jennings, and Lauren Jennings; and finally, my mother’s unwavering dedication to order and tidiness.

Favorite Element: This apartment was blessed with good bones, especially for a small rental in a lackluster building — I love the exposed brick and the duplex layout. I’m also partial to the view, particularly late at night, when light pollution from Times Square creates a pretty convincing optical illusion: everything seems to shrink, and the backlit low-rises and water towers look very much like reproductions on a mid-century sound stage. You feel as though you’re on the set of Rear Window.

Biggest Challenge: The miniature galley kitchen really gets my goat. It’s crammed into the narrow entryway, everything is covered in white laminate, and the appliances were all born before I was. It’s barely big enough to poach an egg in, which is problematic for someone whose professional and academic life revolves around food.

What Friends Say: The kindest compliment my friends pay me is that the apartment successfully showcases my identity, quirks and all. They’re also not shy when it comes to asking about my rent.

Biggest Embarrassment: I hate white walls, but the landlord won’t permit me to paint or paper them with anything less boring. I’ve just bought a co-op in the Village, where I’ll be moving in January, and I can’t wait to be in charge of my own palette for a change!

Proudest DIY: It may not seem like a triumph to some, but I am very proud to have put those cheapo bookshelves together by myself — I did not inherit my father’s woodworking genius. I also recently got into linocut printing, and I’m looking forward to finally getting some of my own art up on the walls.

Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive item in this apartment is definitely a book, probably my very early mint copy of A Streetcar Named Desire. In fact, I’d bet my top ten biggest indulgences are all printed matter. “My name is CB, and I’m addicted to first editions.”

Best Advice: Really all I’ve tried to do here is create a space that reflects my personality. If you can manage to do that, you’ll always feel exactly at home.

Dream Sources: Strand’s Rare Book Room; the Food and Cookery Collection at NYU’s Fales Library; any of those cavernous antique shops along East 10th Street, the sort with Louis XVI fauteuils and Art Deco credenzas in the window; Obscura Antiques & Oddities; ABC Carpet & Home; Astier de Villatte in Paris; Sibler in Zürich; Bøger & Kuriosa in Copenhagen; flea markets, vintage stores, and independent booksellers everywhere; RH’s Chesterfield section; Assouline’s Ultimate Collection; any artwork by Felix d’Eon; and a piece of custom walnut furniture from my father’s workshop.

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

Plain old renter’s white

ENTRY

LIVING ROOM

  • bookshelves: Ikea
  • Barcelona chair knock-off: Designer Seating
  • wooden side table: CB2
  • all plants and flowers: West Village Florists
  • rug: West Elm
  • prints, photos, posters, and objets d’art (throughout the apartment): Obscura Antiques & Oddities; Etsy; eBay; Fab; Brooklyn Flea; Alder & Co.; various other flea markets and antique shops
  • hand-cut map of Manhattan: Karen O’Leary, of Studio KMO
  • soprano saxophone: Yanagisawa
  • copper canelé molds: Mauviel
  • colored accent tables: CB2
  • vintage round accent cabinet (’50s): Brooklyn Flea
  • vintage bike (’60s): Bikes by George (Alphabet City)
  • records: Earwax Records (Williamsburg)
  • floor and table lamps: Ikea
  • metal task lamp: West Elm
  • red filing cabinet: Ikea
  • couch and pillows: Crate & Barrel
  • butcher’s block and stool: Ikea
  • teak side chair: Ikea
  • candles: Astier de Villatte
  • ceramic beehive vase: West Elm
  • all framing: 14th Street Framing
  • decorative papers: Blick; Greenwich Letterpress
  • books: Bookmarc; Bøger & Kuriosa; OUR Bookshop; St. Mark’s Bookshop; Greenlight Bookstore; Strand; Spoonbill & Sugartown; Crescent City Books; Powell’s; Shakespeare & Company
  • OFFICE

  • black leather side chairs (Denmark, ’50s): Metro Retro Furniture
  • desk and chair: CB2
  • wall-mounted turntable: Ion
  • rug: West Elm
  • office supplies: Container Store; Sibler
  • paper lanterns: Pearl River
  • Edison bulb lamp: Luke Lamp Co.
  • weighted-action keyboard (YPG-625): Yamaha
  • BATHROOM

  • “Skeleton” print by Ben Giles: Society6
  • Paris shower curtain: Urban Outfitters
  • TERRACE

  • teak chaise longue and table: Ikea

  • BEDROOM
    • leather chair: Jennifer Convertibles
    • bamboo hamper: Bed Bath & Beyond
    • type case: Brooklyn Flea
    • dresser: Ikea
    • bedding: West Elm
    • “headboard” decorative paper: Blick
    • accent table: CB2
    • teak side chair: Ikea
    • bone frame mirror: West Elm
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    Thanks, CB!

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    (Image credits: Alexis Buryk)