Kelsea & James’ Romantic Harlem Flat

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Name: James and Kelsea Gaynor and their roommate, Bridget Murphy
Location: Harlem — New York City, NY
Size: 2 bedroom, 2 bath
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

It’s hard to believe that newlyweds Kelsea—owner of East Olivia Creative Company—and James only recently moved into their Harlem apartment after relocating from Los Angeles. Their gorgeous fifth floor, two-story flat (complete with a rooftop patio!) feels just lived-in enough to be cozy and inviting. A scheme of deep autumnal colors, whimsical animal art, and an abundance of swoon-worthy wild floral arrangements give this romantic space a rustic femininity.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Kelsea is also a visual merchandiser for Anthropologie and she has a natural talent for designing spaces that feel put-together in an organic way. Like a good pair of worn-in vintage boots, each room is perfect and lovely in an “Oh, this old thing?” kind of way. To top it off, the couple has a genuine shared love for hosting guests and making each one feel like an old friend.

While the home boasts a heaping helping of moody, whimsical decor, the simplified upstairs bedrooms and surprise typography lighten the mood and encourage those inside to relax. The bright and airy bedrooms reflect the sunny, laid-back vibes of the Californians who dwell within them, thanks to white walls, simple bedding, and homemade reclaimed wood furniture made by James on their rooftop patio.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Welcoming and warm—a space that balances both feminine and masculine, unique found objects and modern utilitarian pieces. Our home is anchored by classic color palettes and timeless, intentional furniture. The majority of pieces that make up our home are items that were either passed down through previous generations or custom-built/altered in order to evoke and express our unique values and aesthetic.

Inspiration: Travels had and hoped for, our favorite cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. Designers and creatives that inspire us. And most importantly, we are always inspired by our motivation to create a space where new and old friends can gather and have authentic connection with one another.

Favorite Element: Our rooftop! We are so lucky to have such an awesome space in the city, and overall our large space to be able to host and include as many people as we like. Our number of impromptu dinner gatherings is always growing. Also, one of our absolute favorite items we use in entertaining friends on our roof is our wireless speaker. I looked for nearly a year to find a bluetooth speaker that was also beautiful and had super high-quality sound. I fell in love with B&O Play’s Beolit 15 speaker—and it comes in a champagne gold color (and several others)! It was approved by me, aesthetic-wise, and approved by my husband (a prior audio engineer) for its sound quality. I highly recommend the investment!

Biggest Challenge: Very little built-in storage space. The apartment is very open and roomy but there are only small closets in the bedrooms and one additional closet downstairs by the kitchen.

What Friends Say:
“It’s a home-away-from-home. When I’m there I feel nothing but pure love and peace. It’s a place to sit and soak in the perfect vibe of a perfectly curated New York City apartment. A place to be inspired and share time and conversation with people you love” -word for word from our dear friend Meg

Biggest Embarrassment: That our friends have to walk up six flights of stairs to enjoy our apartment 😉 No elevators in our building! But we think we are worth it.

Proudest DIY: Platform storage bed in master bedroom and our day bed/tool storage chest. Nearly all of the wood throughout our home was either raw and built into its piece upon arrival, or if it was an item that was previously stained, it was then stripped and re-stained to match all the other items. This creates a wonderfully consistent thread throughout our home.

Biggest Indulgence:
Custom millwork in living room, hallway, and bedrooms and custom artwork in master bedroom.

Best Advice: Form and function are identical in importance. Therefore, choose each item in your home with intention and purpose—even if that purpose is simply to give you joy or inspire your friends and guests.

Dream Sources:
Emily Henderson, DesignloveFest, Hostess Haven, Anthropologie, high-end NYC boutiques. There are so many furniture and interior designers whose work we admire, but often pieces we fall in love with are well outside of our current budget! Thus, we find a way to get creative and create moments or items in our space that quenches the thirst for out-of-reach things that inspire us!



  • Holla doormat: Nordstrom
  • Black mirror with gold roses: inherited
  • Rabbit and bear paper masks: custom-made for our wedding by Lisa and Dan Soltis of LAS Jewelry
(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)


  • Vintage sofa: inherited, passed down from James’ great-grandmother
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Shelving unit: DIY
  • Coffee table: IKEA Vittsjo, hacked
  • Black seating with center table: vintage
  • Leather tufted chair: inherited
  • Clamp lights attached to shelving: IKEA Ranarp
  • Media unit: Urban Outfitters
  • Brass tray on shelves: H&M
  • Projector and screen: Amazon
  • Wireless bluetooth speaker: Beolit 15 from B&O Play
  • Letters: Anthropologie
  • Dead sea bookends: Anthroplogie
  • Metal side tables: vintage via Furnish Green
  • Floor lamp: vintage
  • Gold plant pots: Anthropologie
  • Shearling rug: Christmas tree skirt from Anthropologie
  • Shearling rugs on black seating: IKEA
  • White ceramic tray with gold edges: Amazon
  • New York City subway map poster: Urban
  • Clear Eyes Full Hearts poster: A Vintage Poster
  • Photo of children in Haiti: Jess Koehler
(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)


  • Table: IKEA, stripped and re-stained
  • Dining table bench: DIY made with reclaimed wood from BIG Reuse
  • Rabbit print: Anthropologie
  • Dining chairs: IKEA Tarno
  • Light fixture: IKEA Ranarp Pendant
  • Marble server: Anthropologie
  • Pitcher used as vase: Adagio Teas via Amazon
  • Black trunk: vintage via Furnish Green, legs from Amazon added for additional height
  • Picnic basket: Amazon
  • Marble shelving unit: inherited
  • Metal stools: IKEA, hacked
  • Bar cart: Target
  • Cocktails book: Anthropologie
  • Ice bucket: Anthropologie
  • Crystal decanters and metal tags: vintage
  • Brass and wooden barware set: Anthropologie
  • Gold-rimmed glasses: H&M
  • Silver tray: inherited
  • Mirror: vintage
(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)


  • Wooden wall shelving: IKEA Bekväm Spice Rack, stained
  • Utensil holder: Anthropologie
  • Dish towels : Anthropologie
  • Metal grey baskets: Target
  • Copper handles: Target
  • Sugar pot: Anthropologie
  • Creamer: Anthropologie
  • Hanging pot rack: Cooks Standard via Amazon
  • Wall-mounted dish rack: IKEA
  • Kitchen shelving unit: DIY from old bowling alley lane sourced from Build Green NYC in Astoria and metal piping from Home Depot
  • Ceramic pour-over coffee dripper: Hario
  • Pour-over coffee stand: DIY
  • Glass and gold drink dispenser: Target
(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)



  • “You Look Good” bathmat: Urban Outfitters
  • Brass hook: Anthropologie
  • Ceramic pieces in navy and cream: Anthropologie
  • Ceramic match striker: Love Adorned in Amagansett
  • Brass lid glass jars: Anthropologie
  • Montauk The End wooden art: photo by CJ, lettering by Lisa Soltis
(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)



  • Outdoor bar: West Elm
  • Picnic table: Home Depot
  • Cement and wood light poles: DIY
  • Folding chairs: IKEA
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The living room (Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

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Thanks, Kelsea & James!