House Tour: Nina's Elegant Modern Pre-War

New York

Name: Nina
Location: West Village
Size: 450 square feet sublet
Years lived in: 1.5 years

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Nina's last apartment was very frilly and pink. This apartment is much more on the opposite end of the stereotypically gendered design spectrum. And Nina loves it that way and feels at home. In addition to being an interior designer, Nina writes a design blog and is about to launch a small design store in NoLita! None of this, however, has stopped Nina from turning her studio sublet into an oasis of comfort and beauty...



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The owner/architect of the apartment took Nina's pre-war unit and stripped it of much of its pre-war features before Nina moved in. To replicate some of the impact lost in the renovation, Nina had stripes painted in place of where there once would have been a 'faux chair rail.' The effect is dramatic. Nina says the pattern is "decorative like wallpaper, but easier to remove." She knew when she started designing the room, that one hue would not be enough. The colors she used were inspired entirely by her bedding and are all the flattest paint that Farrow and Ball sells. Nina's bed is one of few pieces that survived her transition between styles.

Nina has a lot of things that she loves and is not afraid to combine different patterns and genres, but, as a designer is very conscious of what fits in her particular vision and what does not. "I love vintage drawings/prints of dogs – specifically German Shephards!" She also loves horses. While she is knowledgable about, and reveres, high-end furniture, Nina is not afraid to admit that she is a fan of CB2 for their quality and adventurousness.

On a limited budget, Nina's approach has been to take relatively inexpensive items out of their banal origins and put them in a context in which they are dressed up and make a better impression. The proper mix camouflages cheaper pieces. And yet, Nina still plans to upgrade some pieces when she gets the chance!

AT Survey
Style: I would say “masculine modern” with the use of all browns, dark grays, almost no pattern and absolutely zero frills.
Inspiration: A modern “gentleman’s study” – a place to work and to have a simple cocktail.
Favorite Element:: The horizontal stripes – this was an absolute experiment, but I feel surprisingly calmed by them. The former white box felt cold and without an identity.
Biggest Challenge: Storage space for my wardrobe... It forced me to give away pieces I wasn’t wearing and to keep the pieces I love all in the walk-in.
What Friends Say: Nothing, really! I think it’s pretty straight forward, but every once and a while I hear, “what a great idea, sort your books by color!” It’s a simple and fast fix to any library.
Biggest Embarrassment: Maybe that my architecturally clean and minimalist kitchen makes it very apparent that I don’t cook, or even try!
Proudest DIY: Most likely my bedside lampshade, which I made using quilting fabric from Purl to disguise the CB2 lamp.
Biggest Indulgence: Artwork. The Louis Corinth original lithograph over my bed is an original by one of the first impressionists in Germany (of whom my parents are big collectors). Also, the small Goya watercolor I have leaning on the shelf in my kitchen and the large photo by renowned NYC stationaire/artist Nancy Sharon Collins above my sofa.
Best Advice:: Take it slow – it took me 6 months to decorate, but I don’t regret any piece. It’s all about figuring out the pieces you can live with. Don’t buy “temporary” pieces – they will end up staying in your home longer then you think and you still won’t love them.
Dream Source: I love my Saarinen coffee table and my Mies chair, so I’m going with Knoll.

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