Inside Out: Lauren's Heirloom Apartment

Inside Out: Lauren's Heirloom Apartment

Jill Slater
Sep 19, 2007

Inside Out: A showcase for those who transform their residences into homes via innovative intervention

Name: Lauren
Location: Jackson Heights, Queens
Size: 900 sq ft, 2-bdrm co-op
Years lived in: Eight years, but family has been here for 55 years total

Lauren walks the fine line of living in a family heirloom. She has the burdened pleasure of having inherited her grandmother's apartment, purchased by said grandma in 1952 for what was, according to legend, an $800 purchase.

Since then, living in and redecorating her apartment has incurred strong emotions in both Lauren and her mother.

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Lauren's mother considers each undusted surface in the apartment to be a sign of disrespect to Lauren's deceased grandmother. As a result of this and other stong attachments to the place, Lauren's home is clearly more than a place to store her shoes and come home to at night. It is a scrapbook and a repository, a museum, and a memorial to a family's life.

At the same time, Lauren is trying to negotiate her way towards a home over which she can feel a sense of ownership and design prowess. The process is not without a struggle, but Lauren is making great strides. Her home is full of wonderful vignettes that could only come about in a place with so much time under its belt.

AT Survey:

Style: Retro grandma plus street scavenger
Inspiration: Grandpa Victor's paintings, Grandma Bea's lost German childhood, my global travels, and other people's discards
Favorite Element: My grandparents' sturdy and simple mid-century couch, which I re-covered in red velvet; a mannequin's leg, which I use as a vase on top of the television; vintage chocolate molds from Belgium; Lots of color – red couch, green rug, blue wall.
Biggest Challenge: Making the apartment feel like my place, since it had 50 years of family ghosts in it when I moved in. My mother and I struggled over nearly every change I made. It was hard to negotiate the complicated emotions – she had grown up in the apartment, and still grieves for her mother, who spent her last years there.
What Friends Say: They usually fixate on my grandfather's paintings, which are moody and surreal. And they gasp at how much space I have.
Biggest Embarrassment: Piles and piles of magazines and newspapers. I can't quite conquer them.
Proudest DIY: : I turned a little metal garden box from Ikea into my spice rack in the kitchen.
Biggest Indulgence: The green rug in my living room. Even at a sample sale, at 75 percent off, it cost more than just about anything else I own. But it's a beautiful green, well-made, and if you look closely you see the unevenness in the color, which gives it depth and elegance.
Best Advice: Take your time finding things that you love and are within your budget. It took years for the apartment to feel like it reflected me, but now it does and I love everything in it.
Dream Source: The streets of Queens and Manhattan; small-town French flea markets (I've only been to one, but it was a gold mine); and a little vintage furniture shop on Hampton Street in Sag Harbor – I can't afford anything in there but I like to visit and pet the merchandise.

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