A Small NYC Rental’s Living Room Was Totally Furnished with Thrifted or Found Pieces

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Credit: Lauren Bren

Name: Lauren Bren and my roommate Niki
Location: East Village – New York City, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Credit: Lauren Bren

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My roommate Niki and I both work in advertising, which is how we met. When we moved to NYC after college, we became fast friends after discovering we both are from the Midwest. We decided to become roommates a year later. We were drawn to the energy and diversity of our East Village neighborhood and when we found this place a couple years ago it was love at first sight. The ample natural light and generous living space made it an easy sell for us because it’s rare to find an apartment in NYC that delivers both. We want our space to be an authentic reflection of our personalities and interests, so sourcing decor is an ever-evolving pursuit.

Credit: Lauren Bren

I consider myself to be a creative, curious, energetic, and overall positive person. I think all of these qualities are very much embedded in the style of my apartment. It’s important to me that my space is filled with things that genuinely bring me joy, so I spend a lot of time (probably too much time) sourcing the “right” things. My heritage is Scandinavian, which I think serves as the foundation of my design taste—simple, clean and modern (Shout out to IKEA!). That said, I NEED color in my life and like to add in pops of it through artwork and decorative pieces, majority of which I have found at thrift stores/Facebook Marketplace or have acquired from family.

Credit: Lauren Bren

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Vintage, Eclectic, Cheerful, Scandinavian, Authentic

Credit: Lauren Bren

What is your favorite room and why? This is tough. I adore my bedroom because it feels like a zen, safe haven in a chaotic city, but I would have to say my favorite room is the living room because it is the room that epitomizes Niki and me the most. It also gets the best natural light which equals instant happiness. The gallery wall is definitely the focal point and the summation of both of our personalities—if someone came into our apartment that didn’t know us and looked at the art on that wall, they would have a pretty good sense of who we are as people. I’m also the most proud of that room because ALL of the furniture, from the rug to the coffee table to the chair, was found on either Facebook Marketplace or thrifted (the green dresser/media table under our TV was found on the street… gotta love NY for that reason).

Credit: Lauren Bren

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Quarantine provided me with a lot of time to scour the internet for unique vintage art and the last thing I bought was the portrait above our fireplace. I found it on a vintage store on Etsy called Round Apple Vintage and the owner told me it was a self-portrait of the artist, who was a technical illustrator in the ’60s and after her retirement decided to become an artist in her own right. I loved the bright colors, the feminist backstory and it also gave me major Joan Didion vibes, who is a queen and one of my all-time favorite writers.

Credit: Lauren Bren

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t rush into furnishing your space and don’t worry too much about sticking to one “style” or “vibe.” If you take the time to find things that genuinely speak to you and make you smile, regardless of what era or style they are, you will find that they come together quite seamlessly. Mixing and matching is all the rage.

Credit: Lauren Bren
Kitchen "island" aka an Ikea shelf we mounted to our wall

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.