Mike & Maddie’s Sweet Nothings

published Jul 7, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Mike & Maddie Witter
Location: Upper West Side, NYC
Size: under 500 square feet
Years lived in: 2

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This couple of acclaimed public school educators have learned a thing or two themselves during the process of decorating their small bi-level apartment. Because of their high marks in our Small Cool Contest, we decided to get a closer look at this charming home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

There is a great mix of antiques and new pieces happening here. Many of the items in this apartment were actually handed down from Maddie’s grandmother. So many functions are accomplished in such a small space. Just inside the front door you find a gracious landing strip, ready to accept keys, mail, and other items that need dropping. The small seating area includes a bookcase, storage, and even what should be a coffee table is actually an upholstered ottoman (so it can have dual functions). Just beyond that, the dining area has storage for its own items. The bedroom has the home’s only TV perched above a small chest, and they’ve managed to create an office area with a desk placed in an otherwise unused corner. Though the home squeezes a lot into a small space, it never feels crowded or overdone. The wonderful terrace is a testament to just that — a few necessary pieces of furniture, a couple of umbrellas, some green plants, and lots and lots of space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is eclectic and whimsical. I try to balance feminine fabrics with masculine accessories. I also love collecting art and try to take risks with the prints and paintings. I love pattern, vintage and modern and making little vignettes.

Inspiration: My inspirations are shelter magazines like Domino, Elle Decor, Lonny and design blogs like Apartment Therapy. I like to write about my design inspirations on my blog

Favorite Element: My favorite element is my mom’s mirror that hangs in the entryway. It is from the Seattle train station in the 30s. The close second is my great-grandfather’s comptometer which sits atop our bar.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Biggest Challenge: We are both cooks, and our kitchen is teeny-tiny and has no counter space- not to mention that it’s in our living room! It’s also challenging to fit furniture in our apartment because it is so narrow. I am constantly changing the way the apartment looks because of the size. I also really struggle with color because I love it and especially love clashing colors. A dream would be for someone to come over and be my edit button.

What Friends Say: When people come over, they like the clever use of space and how it doesn’t look like an IKEA apartment (but, I love IKEA!). They also like hanging outside on the deck.

Biggest Embarrassment: Whenever Bubba meets a new guest, he pees a little. This is embarrassing because he only does it for new guests!

Proudest DIY: Our over-the-top canopy headboard is totally DIY. While the current fabric is a stand-in until we find the perfect fabric, I have learned that it’s very easy to use a staple gun as long as you get a little help — so I have reupholstered the headboard three times in the last couple of months! Whenever I have some nervous energy, I switch the fabrics. We also had to saw our pegboard in our kitchen because of course our kitchen was too small for the standard pegboard. This is Mike’s proudest DIY moment.

Biggest Indulgence: We recently bought a Madeline Weinrib rug after Bubba, our dog, tracked tar all over our old rug. I love the zig-zags and how beautifully crafted it is. We couldn’t splurge on a full size rug, so we got a small one instead.

Best Advice: I like to do a lot of research and put the images together on my computer before I purchase anything. I also think spring cleanings should happen every two months — small spaces don’t have a lot of space for storage, so give all of your extras away. My best advice (probably for myself more than anyone) is to invite people over more so they can enjoy your home — I don’t do it nearly enough because I get self-conscious, but now that my home has been on Apartment Therapy, I have gotten more courage to show it off.

Dream Source: ABC Carpet & Home is such a beautiful place. I would also love to visit the markets in Istanbul, return to the Paris flea markets and get Otomi textiles in Mexico. Designing a kitchen of my own would probably have to be the biggest dream.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)



    • downstairs rug: eBay
    • upstairs rug: Madeline Weinrib


    • desk: my great-grandmother
    • painting: Paul Kostabi
    • coffee table: West Elm
    • lamps: my grandmother
    • mirror: my mom
    • George Orwell lithograph:
    • Kitchen: art: Dutch Door Press
    • bookend: Jonathan Adler
    • lithograph: John Crash Matos for Paris Review
    • chalkboard: made by my cousin


    • ottoman: Ballard Designs in fabric from Purl Soho
    • bar: West Elm
    • suzani: eBay
    • couch: Crate & Barrel
    • curtains: fabric from Purl Soho
    Paris Review lithograph by Allan D’Arcangelo
    • floor lamp: my grandmother
    • armchair: Crate & Barrel with custom fabric


    • kitchen table: vintage
    • china cabinet: Crate & Barrel
    • weiner dog: Jonathan Adler
    • rhino: Anthropologie
    • artichoke: Global Table
    • chairs: Ballard Design in fabric by Purl Soho
    • art: Carzou and garage sales


    • shelf: West Elm
    • bee and honey lithograph: Fernando Boher
    • shower curtain: Urban Outfitters
    • toothbrush holder: Anthropologie
    • dolls jar: Jonathan Adler
    • storage boxes: Bed Bath & Beyond
    • naked ladies art: eBay and Chelsea fleamarket


    • lamp: Pottery Barn
    • ceramic glove: Fishes Eddy
    • desk: West Elm
    • drawings include: Allan D’Arcangelo, Samantha French, Jackie Avery, eBay and Paule Marrot reproduction that I drew after looking at an Anthropologie catalog
    • floor lamp: IKEA
    • garden stool:
    • shams: Potterybarn
    • quilt & curtains: fabric and trim from the fabric district in NYC
    • bedside desk: Brooklyn flea market


    • umbrellas: Pottery Barn Kids
    • chairs: Potterybarn and Home Depot with some spray paint
    • table: came with apartment

Thanks, Maddie and Mike!

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