An Art Historian’s New York Apartment Filled With “Bookish Warmth”

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Name: Elyse
Location: New York, New York

Elyse and her husband have added a considerable amount of character to their 830 square foot rental. With a strong paint choice, smartly mixed styles and pops of green, their place may be short on the historic elements they loved in their former home but it’s long on charm.

From Elyse: After trading in our quaint walk-up in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a cookie-cutter apartment in Manhattan, my husband and I longed for the character of our former pre-war digs. What we now lack in crown moldings, we’ve tried to make up for with bookish warmth.

I would describe our current style, which is ever-evolving, as eclectic mid-century. As an art historian, I appreciate most historical styles, yet I would never design my own living space after a single period style; instead, I aim for variety, and I delight in the surprise achieved by pairing disparate design elements. (For example, our family heirloom seascape painting in a heavy baroque frame is mounted above a midcentury-inspired couch topped with African mud cloth pillows.)

In our home, I tried to create dimension and warmth through a mixture of materials, tones and objects. I solved for a lack of book storage by incorporating books into the decor. My favorite piece of furniture is our Eames lounge, which we bought after our wedding and will have forever. I am also incredibly attached to several of our works of art, including the vintage Calder and Braque exhibition posters that I found at an antique store in Cambridge. Lastly, I am obsessed with our many plants, which add life and personality to our space, softening its edges with joyful greenery.

Three design concepts that inspire me are 1) color, 2) mixing old and new, 3) collecting objects through travel. We hope to replace many of our store-bought objects and furniture with unique finds from travel in the future!

Thanks, Elyse !

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