This Renter Used IKEA to Hack Her Home’s Layout (and Create a Dream WFH Space)
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Name: Audree Kate Lopez
Location: East Village — New York, New York
Size: 750 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
I am a fashion stylist, editor and influencer. I own a fashion and creative agency, Audree Kate Studios. I converted my one-bedroom apartment into a styling studio and office space. I moved into this apartment two years ago after living with two roommates in an Upper East Side 5-story walk-up for my first few years in NYC. I needed a spacious place that I could work in with my team but it also felt like I wasn’t living in my office when the work day was done.
I split the living room in half with a giant open IKEA bookcase to create a mini office area for my assistant’s and my desks. On the other side of the bookcase is my couch, TV and dining room table where my interns will work. In my bedroom, I had a similar concept of splitting my “bedroom” and my closet so one half is strictly my bedroom with only my bed and dresser and the other half of the room is an open closet area where I can store clothing racks for styling projects. In my previous apartments I was surrounded by clothing racks, boxes and samples in my tiny bedrooms so I wanted to really create that mental divide of work and personal life in this apartment since it’s both my office and home. I am a maximalist, vintage lover and I believe in color, texture and creating a space that is inspiring and fun for you!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I would describe my style as Art Deco meets “Golden Girls.” My apartment is filled with artwork from my late Nana Susie (who was an art teacher and an amazing artist), vintage pieces I’ve thrifted over the years, and an overflowing pop of color and texture. I’ve never been a super matchy-matchy minimalist person, so I wanted my place to really evoke my eclectic style and personality, and strike inspiration when I was working. My style has become more refined over the past few years so I used a lot of white furniture to make the space feel open and not over crowded with the decor.
Inspiration: A mix of vintage stores, Pinterest, and Instagram! I’ve always been drawn to interior design and at one point in my life I thought that would be my career path, so it was a really fun project for me to move into this space and create the ultimate bachelorette pad and office. I also drew inspiration from the fashion closets I worked in at magazines where the accessories were immaculately displayed and the area was filled with books, magazines, and Instagrammable areas.
Favorite Element: My favorite element of my apartment is actually my desk, as weird as that sounds, but I spent so many years working on my bed, in coffee shops, or standing at my tiny kitchen counter, so this area was the most important aspect when decorating my apartment. When I sit at my desk, the window view is One World Trade Center and on the opposite office wall is a shelf with a handful of the magazine covers I styled and worked on. It’s a daily “pinch-me-moment” and my favorite area in the apartment.
Biggest Challenge: As any New York resident would say, closet space! I actually hit the closet jackpot in this apartment to have two closets in my bedroom (one a walk-in), a bathroom closet, and a coat closet at the front of my apartment. But even with four closets, I am stuffed to the brim with clothing and beauty products. I purchased a storage unit in the basement of my complex for my styling equipment (ie: clothing racks, model shoes, and accessories), but I had to purchase additional clothing rods for my closet and additional units for my shoes, jewelry, and outerwear. I did not want open shelving or stand alone clothing racks in the bedroom because I wanted everything to feel clean and organized, so I opted for glass dining cabinets so my accessories were put away but you could still see them, and I added additional shelves/clothing rods in my closets to maximize storage. I focused on utilizing as much vertical space (floor to ceiling) as possible so every item in my wardrobe has a purpose and a place.
Proudest DIY: I have a few. I was on a tight budget because I didn’t move into this apartment with any furniture except my bed, so I thrifted a lot of decor and then I painted two large canvases and another framed piece for my walls and bedroom. I also took wood dominos from my late grandpa Herbie and placed them into a frame for an art piece in my entryway!
Biggest Indulgence: I splurged on two items, which both were on sale from the original price by the time I purchased them. The first piece of furniture I bought was my couch and it was the item I framed my apartment decor around. I really wanted a sleek, velvet green couch and I absolutely love it. The second piece is the pink Audrey cabinet (how fitting) from West Elm. I instantly fell in love with it, possibly because of the same (can you blame me?) but it was the first higher-end furniture piece I purchased for the apartment and it’s been a staple item in my living room. Both were totally worth it.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Yes I converted my living room in half to create a home office. I worked with my friend and realtor Chelsea Hale from TripleMint to find this apartment and I had two main requests—a living room I could easily convert into an office and an elevator for all of my styling gear (I was so over lugging heavy duffle bags up six flights of stairs). Chelsea found this apartment really soon into our apartment hunt and it was a perfect L-shape where I could block off part of it for an office and easily create separate spaces.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I think my favorite decor items are my thrifted of heirloom pieces from my family. I have a swan vase in my office that I thrifted for $3, an old 1920’s telephone that my parents had in our house growing up, and the artwork from my Nana Susie. These are items that you can’t easily replicate from a store and they make my space feel really special and it tells a story when you walk through the door.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Maximize your hidden storage so you can keep your home feeling clean and spacious. Utilize under-bed storage for shoes or off-season clothing, have nightstands or cabinets where you can organize your things and make sure you really do a deep edit of your stuff. I moved to New York with two suitcases and have learned to really get rid of clutter, things I’m not using or wearing and doing a deep-clean every season of my space.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t rush the process! I lived in my space for a while and slowly added pieces. I started with my essential furniture and then slowly moved things around, purchased decor and art work. I think it’s key for you to live in the space and figure out what will work best for you, your routine, flow, etc. and purchase pieces that really speak to you. Don’t purchase something just to fill a wall or space, make sure you love it and you want to look at every day.
- AllModern Sofa — Wayfair
- Willa Arlo Interiors Ottomans — Wayfair
- Audrey Cabinet — West Elm
- Baxton Studio Mid-century Lounge Chair — Overstock
- Kallax Shelf Unit — IKEA, purchased from Craigslist
- Lucite Console Table — Overstock
- Sunshine Cowhide Rug — Amazon
- Arched Gold Mirror — Bellacor
- AllModern Floor Lamp — Wayfair
- Framed Leopard Print — Fy!
- Gallery wall and decor — Mix of thrifted, gifted or DIY projects
- Books — Gifted while working at magazines
- Espresso Machine — Breville
- Vases — Thrifted
- Cookbooks — Gifted
- Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse Velvet Curtains — Wayfair
- Safavieh Vintage Boho Hamadan Hayriye Oriental Rug — Overstock
- Drew Barrymore Flower Home Lamps — Walmart
- Dresser — Wayfair, replaced with brass handles from Amazon
- Decorative pillows and throw blankets — Target
- Justina Blakeney Tiger Pillow — Wayfair
- Macrame Wall Tapestry — Target
- Kudu Horn Accent — One Kings Lane
- Faux palm leaf — West Elm
- Canvases — I found the larger one in my complex lobby and I painted the smaller one
- Sheepskin rug — Amazon
- Mid-Century Leopard Bench — The Inside
- Andover Mills Mirror — Wayfair
- Brimnes Cabinet — IKEA, replaced with brass handles from Amazon
- Pax Wardrobe — IKEA, replaced with brass handles from Amazon
- Vases — TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods