A Childhood Home’s Reno Keeps Memories Alive While Reflecting the Present
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Name: Billie Kanfer and dog
Location: Manhattan — New York City, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 28 years, owned
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Where to even begin — a little over 30 years ago my mom wrote a letter to the co-op board of this building in tandem with her application to buy her first NYC apartment and 28 years later, I get to stand in the same home I grew up in and smile proudly that I’ve known this place through memories of my childhood and now adulthood.
Around four years ago, my mom passed away, and I had to move back home to NYC into this apartment to settle affairs, take care of my dog, and learn how to live life without any parents or siblings. With just myself and my dog by my side, I adapted to life and the huge change that was moving back into my childhood home — a place I grew to love and cherish, filled with memories of my mom and I cooking in the kitchen, playing Monopoly on the living room floor, and dancing to some disco hits. Around 2020, I decided that in order to feel good about the space, I needed some renovations (also, this apartment hadn’t been touched since the early ’90s so things were DEFINITELY in need of some TLC). I hired Nest Fine Interior Contracting and they helped bring my dream to life. We were able to maintain the coziness of the place I loved while also giving it a bit of an update, something that aligned with my personal style.
I feel so lucky that I am able to be in the place I can continue to call home. It’s been tough and exciting to build on memories of my past and I hope to continue to share these feelings with the people around me. It’s not just a piece of my past but a way of keeping my mom’s memory alive and close to my heart, too.
My home is absolutely a reflection of who I am. While I tend to wear mostly black and gray, I add pops of color by my accessories, I’ve got 10+ rings on at all times, over 40 tattoos, and style that is a gift from my mother who worked in the fashion industry for over 40 years.
The renovation allowed me to create a neutral base (lots of white, matte black, etc.) and add pops of color (my favorite being yellow) to accent my home, just like I accent my wardrobe with accessories.
This space is bright and bubbly — which I like to think is how a lot of people would describe me.
Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Artsy, bright, cozy, warm, and functional!
What is your favorite room and why? Oh gosh, aside from my closet (I own WAY too much clothing), my favorite room is the living room. I love the way we created an open space to allow for a seamless flow of social energy — you can stand in the kitchen and have conversations with friends on the couch. You can run around the island chasing my dog who’s stolen a sock from a visitor. You can feel stillness but also a bustling energy. The living room gets a lot of light and I love sitting here in the silent mornings, sipping coffee, or hosting friends for dinner playing music out-loud and singing along.
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Yikes, I have a shopping problem hahah. The most recent, truly I purchased this last week, is a little cereal bowl candle. It’s a Lucky Charms bowl of cereal made to be a vanilla-scented candle. It currently resides on a West Elm silver side-table in-between my 2 chairs in the living room.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Creating a home you love comes from loving yourself. It feels easier to live in a space that’s your own when you know who you are. Maybe it sounds cheesy but fill the space with things that make you happy, don’t restrict yourself just because you think your guests may not like it. This is your home, your truth, yourself – and if you love it then nothing else matters.
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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