West Village — Manhattan, New York
475 square feet
Years lived in:
2 years — rent
Bright, colorful and filled to the brim with charm, Mark has transformed a standard run of the mill white walled rental into a vibrant home. From first glance into the entry way, it is clear that the home has been thoughtfully put together and showcases a love for design - and for color! One of the suggestions to renters I hear most frequently is to treat your rental like a home and put in the effort to make it yours. This home is a perfect example of that advice at work. From top to bottom, Mark has put in that effort and made this space warm and personal.
While the entry way is small in size, it makes a big impact with its bright walls, artwork and arrangement of lovely vintage vases and bowls. Strategic placement of a painting hides the fuse box from view. In this bright and colorful home, the vibe is chic, friendly and comfortable.
From the wall colors (chosen with confidence), to the selection and installation of the bathroom sink (done on his own late into the night just before his family was due to visit), to the knobs on his closet (repurposed sink knobs previously from a restaurant), the design of the space has been a labor of love on Mark's part. Given how it all came together so well, I was surprised when Mark told me that this was his first foray into home decor. Though he did admit that as a child, he managed to convince his parents into painting one of their previously white walls a vibrant red. This type of natural inclination towards color makes sense in someone who is now so adept at using paint to sculpt out visual space.
There are no window frames. I taped off two inches around each window and painted a white frame around them . . . it made a world of difference!
To hear Mark, pastry chef at Commerce Restaurant in the West Village, talk about the work he has put into his various home improvement projects - major (appliance installation) to minor (painting the hardware on the front door to better offset the red color) - calls to mind a quote from Charles Eames. "The details are not the details. They make the design."
Though all the rooms, are lovely and cheerful, the main room: an open kitchen and adjoining living room, is the place to be. Bowls filled with hand selected fresh fruits and vegetables are ready for eating. Open shelves display an eclectic array of dishes along side an arsenal of hanging pots and pans, a favorite being the vintage copper piece discovered in a Paris flea market. Between the open layout and personality on display, this a home perfect as a gathering place for friends.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Urban Eclectic
Inspiration: New York City, specifically the West Village. I am always finding a new store, cafe, or restaurant while wandering around my neighborhood, it's ever changing. I draw inspiration from the majestic pre-war brownstones and the pops of color from their pots of flowers, window boxes, and brightly painted front doors. I regularly find myself going into clothing stores in the city not to check out the merchandise, but to look at how they have staged their space and am often jealous of the great vintage pieces of furniture they find! I also draw inspiration from my childhood. My mother has always been an avid gardener and has shown me how much life can be added by bringing the outdoors into a living space.
Favorite Element: It's the small things I appreciate the most about this apartment. I live in a corner apartment with 6 unobscured windows (the 7th faces another building, however I still get light through it) and two real bedrooms that both fit at least a full size bed with really good amount of closet space ( in terms of New York City standards). I have seen many apartments in the west village where most are not as functional as mine e.g. one bedroom is the size of a small walk in closet, railroad spaces (you have to walk through one bedroom to get to the other), a blocked view from the windows that directly face surrounding buildings, or having a huge electric meter in the middle of a wall (yes, the ones mounted on the side of most peoples houses) hanging out in the kitchen, hallway, or dining room.
Biggest Challenge: Making a very uninteresting "standard" apartment visually aesthetic without changing too much (because of the buildings regulations). When I moved in, it was your standard beige walls, no trim around the windows, no moldings or interesting wood work, budget oak kitchen cabinets, and a bathroom sink and mirror combo I hope they got a hell of a deal on.
What Friends Say: "Wow . . . great colors!" or "What are you doing baking? You should be an interior designer."
Biggest Embarrassment: By far, the bathroom door. The building's super did a bootleg job installing the previous bathroom sink and had to carve a little notch in the bathroom door so it would close without hitting the overhang of the sink. I carefully selected a sink I thought would clear the path of door, however, the measurements on the website where I bought the sink where a few inches off. The gap went from being about an inch in length to 5 inches in length.
Proudest DIY: Installing the bathroom sink with no clue about plumbing on a time restraint (I started at 2:00 am when my family from California and Michigan were flying in at 9:00 am) . . . yeah, that was a fun night.
Biggest Indulgence: Flowers . . . I really enjoy having fresh cut flowers around all year long.
Best Advice: Two pieces of advice: Don't work against the things you dislike about your space. . . find a way to use it to your advantage. And, color is your friend! The great thing about paint is that it can be painted over, so put all of the reservations aside . . . and just go for it!
Dream Sources: ABC Home, Design Within Reach, Room & Board, Lafontsee Galleries, Porte de Clignancourt flea market, Restoration Hardware, The Rug Company, Olde Good Things, & Modern50.com
Resources of Note:
• Paint: Behr Premium Plus in Jamaica Bay
• Lamp: Pottery Barn
• Houndstooth Chair: Room & Board
• Photograph: YellowKorner Soho
• Pillows & Throw: Jonathan Adler
• Coffee Table: CB2
• Leather Trunk: Vintage, found on the street
• Sofa: Vintage piece found on eBay
• Paint: Behr Premium Plus in Chocolate Sparkle
• Kitchen Island: Vintage found on eBay
• Tolix Stool: Design Within Reach
• Ghost Chair: Design Within Reach
• Counter Stools: Crate & Barrel
• Lighting: Restoration Hardware