Customized IKEA Cabinets Help This Collector Have an Uncluttered Bedroom

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Credit: Liz Clayman
Me in my living room. It was important for me to own in Jackson Heights' historic district, since this is where my family first lived when they immigrated to the US in the 1970s.

Name: Stephanie Oula
Location: Jackson Heights, NY (in Queens)
Type of home: Co-op prewar apartment
Size: 947 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My apartment is a renovated prewar one-bedroom co-op in Jackson Heights, New York. It has all the charm of pre-war accents—crown molding, high ceilings, a spacious layout for NYC—but the comfort of modernity with an updated open kitchen and bathroom. I am a native New Yorker who works in gender and international development. I live by myself and have magpie tendencies.

Credit: Liz Clayman
My bedroom style is "performatively feminine." The curtains are handmade by my grandmother, side table is CB2, lighting fixture from Wayfair, and the cabinets are from Ikea. The canvas above the bed is my favorite e.e. cummings poem in gold.

For a while I lived abroad for school and internships and now I travel frequently for work, so it’s been restorative to build out my first home to always come back to. My primary design influences are Chinoiserie and Hollywood Regency. I started buying small Chinese antique pieces in grad school (when I lived next to one of London’s best antique markets, Camden Passage). I have been slowly growing my collection of vintage and antique furniture since and mixing it with some budget-friendly contemporary pieces to keep it fresh.

I like the playful glamour of Hollywood Regency combined with older, heavier pieces with substantial detailing. Meanwhile, my bedroom and bathroom leans in hard on the “performative femininity” side of things—lots of ruffles, pink, and girlhood objects, like my favorite e e cummings poem on canvas in my handwriting.

Credit: Liz Clayman
The apartment has southwest exposures so it is bright all day long. The counterstools and cocktail ottoman are both from Target, and my grandmother handmade my curtains.

I aspire to have a home with really thoughtful and intentional design choices—rooted in sustainable and ethical design. Financially, I’m not fully there yet, but I’ve started with that perspective on my art collection, which is mostly made up of pieces by women or youth artists.

It was particularly important for me to buy my first apartment in Jackson Heights since my family first lived here when they immigrated to the US in the 1970s. I’ve loved the diversity and architecture in Jackson Heights since I was a child. The neighborhood is known for its historic district and distinctive “Garden City movement” buildings from the 1920s-1930s. My apartment complex has a garden courtyard with a cascading fountain, which is relaxing to come home to after work in the city.

Credit: Liz Clayman
These IKEA bookshelves mimic built-ins. The dining table is CB2, dining chairs are Ballard, and the lighting fixture is Wayfair. The photograph is by Teen Art Salon.

What is your favorite room and why? This might be cheating because it’s an open floor plan, but I love my living room-kitchen-dining combined space. It’s the perfect layout for hosting—I can make dinner in the kitchen while chatting to friends having a drink on the couch. We can then seamlessly migrate to the dining table, where the wall of books tends to spark lively discussion.

Credit: Liz Clayman
Living room: My apartment is a mix of Chinoiserie, Hollywood Regency, mid-century modern, and contemporary influences. I love antiques but am slowly building up my collection, so have mixed in some older pieces with budget-friendly items. My favorite piece of furniture in my apartment is the red 19th century Chinese wedding cabinet, rounded out with a blue velvet Article sofa, and a vintage bar cart I found in my basement laundry. The painting was commissioned from Teen Art Salon, an adolescent art platform that I chair the board of.

Many elements in this living/kitchen/dining open space also have deeply personal origins, which is really what makes my home feel like a home to me. My grandmother handmade the curtains; the 19th century red Chinese wedding cabinet is actually my sister’s—I begged her to save it for me when I was sixteen; the commissioned painting above the couch and pink photograph is from Teen Art Salon, an adolescent art platform that a close friend started; the kitchenware is Great Jones, a company founded by another close friend; the vintage teacups are my grand-aunt’s; the coffee table books were gifts from friends. All of these objects add up to the tangible and layered feeling of being “home” for me—a home created by myself but also in so many ways, created by all the people I love.

Credit: Liz Clayman
Kitchen: My collection of new and vintage tea cups and china--some inherited and some found!

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? Adding more closet space! I have a substantial collection of dresses (mostly vintage) and from my days working at a vintage store, I like to sort by type of dress, then color, and finally by sleeve length. While I have two fairly large hallway closets and two standard bedroom closets, as well as various wardrobes/dressers, I fully fantasize about a proper dressing room (with hand-painted wallpaper, a mirror vanity, jewel-box lighting, seating and beautifully organized shelving and drawers). I built some fun custom cabinetry from IKEA to house my shoes and accessories in the meantime, but am waiting for my dream dressing room one day.

Credit: Liz Clayman
Before its renovation, the kitchen was a traditional closed galley kitchen. Opening up the kitchen made it more modern and made for easier hosting. The chandelier is PB Teen and the dutch oven is from Great Jones, a company started by one of my closest friend.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A gold vintage bar cart, found in my building’s basement laundry with a note that said “please throw out!” There is one screw missing from the top but you can’t see it. It worked out perfectly because I had been looking for a vintage bar cart since I got my apartment, and one appeared in my basement, of all places!

Credit: Liz Clayman
My dresser is vintage and houses my collection of Egyptian glass perfume bottles, vintage mirrors, and family photographs. The photograph is attributed to Sara Barchus Yagi and the watercolor is 18th century French erotica.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I realized early on in the decorating process to not let myself fixate on whether things will “go” together. If you love it, it will “go” with everything else you love–your internal aesthetic logic will reveal itself in surprising and new ways.


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