This Cool Jersey City Loft Has Realistic and Renter-Friendly Concrete Wallpaper

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Credit: Nicole Wyman

Name: Nicole Wyman and dog, Henley
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 840 square feet
Time lived in: 2 weeks, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’ve always loved the look and feel of old industrial buildings and converted lofts compared to the soulless, pristine white box options you typically find in rental buildings in and around the city. I recently moved from a loft building in Brooklyn, and was looking for something with similar character (exposed brick and beams, and good natural light). I found it here, in a converted warehouse building in Jersey City. Prior to the pandemic, I worked in hospitality. When my clients shut down in March 2020, I spent many months alone with my rescue pup on what I came to realize was a very uncomfortable couch. I needed a change (and more closet space for a fledgling business making baby denim jackets during my months at home).

Credit: Nicole Wyman

I began the search for a new place with character, more closet space, and a new couch. My new home is a loft conversion and has character in spades; beamed wooden ceilings, sliding barn doors, exposed brick walls, and eastern exposure, which offers excellent morning light. I’ve turned one of the huge closets into an office for The Cool Ant, with plenty of storage for the denim jackets, my sewing machine, and all my materials — and most importantly, purchased the world’s most comfortable living room couch (The Leighton from Raymour & Flannigan). The building has great amenities, including a dog run on the roof, which Henley, my rescue pup loves. I love the apartment’s high ceilings (12 feet) and the industrial ceiling fans, which aside from being cool to look at, keep the apartment cool, too. The fixtures throughout are modern, which has allowed me to pepper in other modern pieces, including a set of six mixed teal, black, and white Eames dining chairs purchased on Houzz, and two Lucite Kartell bar stools that I’ve had for nearly 10 years. A large pouf I bought in a souk in Morocco anchors my living room, and caddy-corner, a spotlight from Beam, the most amazing little design store in Brooklyn.

Credit: Nicole Wyman

I gravitate toward a singular color scheme or theme that runs like a ribbon through all of the spaces in my home. In this apartment, the colors that I used are blue hues inspired by my favorite trips to the Mediterranean. There, the incredible blues change with the way the light hits them. It’s a perfect palette to mix and match. I’m a beach baby at heart, and love nothing more than being in or by the ocean. The art I’ve collected allows me to escape into that world. The dreamy Gray Malin photo that anchors my living room is a picture of kids diving off rock cliffs in Capri. If I could be transported anywhere in the world, I’d want to go there.

My parents bought me my first car in high school, which came with a license plate that said “Bla Bla” as a joke because I was a chatty kid. Since then, it’s become an unofficial nickname, and design inspiration. I’ve been gifted, pointed toward, and have looked for artwork with a “Blah” theme including a Mel Bochner I was gifted for college graduation, and a piece by British pop artist Deborah Azzopardi. I was able to mix in other Blah items I’ve collected along the way including two framed shopping bags from a store in St. Tropez, and a few other fun pieces I love including a vintage Barbie piece by David Parise, and the “what the fuck” print by George McCalman, which perfectly encapsulates this past year. Of course, the original Bla Bla license plate is framed as part of my gallery wall.

Credit: Nicole Wyman

What is your favorite room and why? The kitchen and dining room are my favorite spaces in the apartment. I’m a firm believer in the idea that all good things happen around a table — deals are done, friendships forged, relationships built, and memories are made there. I’ve never lived in a space where I could have a dining room table until now, and after a year spent alone in quarantine, I can’t wait to dive into the recipe books and host my friends for cocktails, parties, and holidays. I love the way the open format kitchen flows into the other room allowing us to move from cocktails at the kitchen island to dinner at the table, followed by drinks in the living room. My neon sign reads “Andiamo” which means “Let’s Go” in Italian. I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for kicking off post-pandemic life.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Industrial, Serene, Cool Toned, Modern

Credit: Nicole Wyman

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A few unexpected amazing finds:

  1. LED track lights from the Container Store. My closet has no lighting, and this solved the problem easily and cost-effectively. They attach to the ceiling and the individual LEDs can be pointed in any direction. The strip sticks to the wall with 3M adhesive, and comes with a separate light switch to easily turn them on.
  2. Realistic-looking peel and stick concrete wallpaper from a store called AccentuWall on Etsy. I wanted to lean into the industrial vibe of the space, creating an accent wall to mount my gallery of frames onto, but couldn’t install anything semi-permanent in my rental. This peel and stick paper offered me the perfect solution. The store printed it to size, and it was easy for me to apply myself.
  3. A Ruggable! Throughout the pandemic I’ve gotten served ads for Ruggable on Instagram. The company makes area rugs that can be thrown in the washing machine. With the amount of entertaining I do, and a black dog, the rug is constantly in need of a deep clean. This has been the perfect solution.

Any advice for creating a home you love?

  1. Use the myriad of online tools available to thoughtfully design your space. There’s a fantastic free tool called Floorplanner, which lets you upload a floor plan of your space to scale, and place furniture accordingly, and then render it in 3D so you can visualize your space before you’re in it.
  2. Surround yourself with artwork and colors that bring you joy! Mixing textures and introducing complementary accent colors has helped me create a warm feeling, cohesive space.
  3. Mix high and low! I’ve realized that it’s worth investing in well-made designer pieces, but that it’s possible to create a beautiful space by mixing and matching. I have beautiful high-end pieces from Ligne Roset and Article paired with pieces from Target and Wayfair.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited and updated for length/size and clarity.