A Dark Blue NYC Rental Apartment Makes a Case for Maximalism

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A lot of my furniture comes from shows I've designed and this is true for the two armchairs. The console table is a barrister bookcase section I found on Craigslist with a custom welded base that I designed. The giant gilt mirror is one of my favorite thing; I bought it for $5(!) off the back of a pick-up truck in the Berkshires.

Name: David Arsenault, my partner, and a friend/roommate
Location: Washington Heights, NYC
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1200 square feet
Years lived in: 10 years, renting

The dining table is a recent purchase from West Elm after having the orange version of it (purchased from Craigslist). The bar cart is from World Market. The deer is vintage from Etsy (and was an incredible bargain).

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’ve lived in this apartment for ten years now (after moving here directly out of college) and over that time have seen a lot of variation both in decor and roommates. I’m the only person who has occupied the apartment consistently over that period, and with three bedrooms total, many folks have passed through in a decade. When the original group of us moved in, we didn’t have a lot to call our own, being fresh out of undergrad. The sofa that was in the living room for nine years (and has since been replaced) was one that came with the apartment!

The sofa is from West Elm and the curtains were sewn by me. Almost everything else visible is vintage, including the incredible swing-arm lamp I found in Portland.

I’ve spent the better part of the time I’ve lived here collecting, decorating, editing, and re-vamping to create an environment that truly feels like a home and a reflection of me. The main living area has a slight maximalist vibe going for it. I personally feel like this is a direct reaction to the apartment feeling empty for so long when we first moved in. I started accumulating objects and furniture through my profession (I’m a set designer for theatre and events) that helped build the foundation of what I have now. It wasn’t until the past few years that I was able to more specifically curate furniture and make choices instead of having a piece just because it was free and available.

My bedroom. The bed is from Crate and Barrel, the sconces from West Elm. Drapes are IKEA and the letter D is vintage from Austin.

I’ve also re-decorated significantly in the past few years. My bedroom used to be more similar in style to the living room, but I realized at some point that I needed more visual space to help clear my head after long days in the theatre. I really tried to find clean lines and whittle down the decorative items to pieces that were really important to me or inspired me. The difference in style between the main living spaces and my bedroom may seem quite jarring upon examination, but both represent facets of my personality and style —it’s great to have both in the same place. About two years ago, my partner and a friend both moved in. It feels wonderful to have so much of my life in one place, especially a place that finally feels like a true reflection of what I love.

This barrister bookcase (I'm obsessed with them) was a steal at a re-use center in Vermont. I find a lot of pieces when traveling for work.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, unexpected, varied, comfortable, refreshing

The living room houses my large art book collection, but I'm always having to find new ways to incorporate books into the decor as my collection grows and the shelf space stays constant.

What is your favorite room and why? It’s somewhat difficult to pick a favorite room, but at the moment, it’s my bedroom. It’s a zen place for me. I’m able to light a candle and tune out of the world in a way that I can’t anywhere else.

My absolute favorite corner in my apartment. The shelf/cabinet is from CB2, but the chair and table are vintage. The table is handmade wood inlay and comes from my favorite store in the world, Uncommon Objects in Austin. It was bought for an event I designed and then gifted to me. The chair is vintage from Vermont (another steal). The black and white photo above is a scan of a photo I found in a vintage store. The drawing of James Dean is by my father, as is the wood sculpture on the top shelf.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought for my home was the ottoman in my bedroom. Since I’ve been home so much (gee, thanks, COVID-19) I found that I have been sitting in the chair and reading in my bedroom a lot more often. I needed a way to put my feet up and found this minimalist stool from West Elm that works perfectly.

What used to be my desk has turned into a console. The artwork is by Adam Chuck (@adam__chuck), Katie Wooward (@ramblingsketcher, a friend from college), and Kenney Mencher (@kenneymencher). The ceramics are from PansyAss Ceramics (@pansyassceramics) and Liberty of London. The stool is West Elm.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice for creating a home you love would be: don’t rush it and don’t fear change! It took me a third of my life at this point to “finish” my home, and to be honest, it will never be done. I’m constantly moving things around and finding new arrangements that keep things interesting.

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