Meaningful Minimalism on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Name: Michelle & Jeffrey Alves de Lima-Miller (plus Amélie & Lester, our cats)
Location: New York, New York
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years; owned.

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In a beautiful old building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side live Michelle, Jeffrey, and their two cats. Soon they’ll be adding a new little one to the mix, and moving to a larger and more family-friendly apartment in Brooklyn. But just a few days before their move, they welcomed me to their lovely home.

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This is the kitchen, with Jeff’s prized fish tank to the right. The door directly across from you is the entry door, and to the right of that is the door to the bathroom. (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

You may recognize Michelle and Jeff’s place from their house call, where many of you commented on how bright and relaxing it looked. Their apartment does indeed have a lovely, calming feel to it, thanks to high ceilings, abundant light, and, of course, their excellent taste. Their style combines Jeff’s minimalist leanings with Michelle’s love of meaningful pieces for a look that’s clean but still warm and engaging.

And, of course, the abundant built ins, which cover almost an entire side of the apartment, don’t hurt either. This means there’s plenty of space to keep things tucked away, giving the apartment a spacious feel that belies its small footprint.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A mix of classic and modern.

Inspiration: We have gathered ideas throughout the years, mostly from places we visited as well as from different magazines and websites.

Favorite Element: Our dining table and the painting from Aecio Sarti, an artist who lives in Paraty, Brazil. On top of bringing some color to our place, it also connects us with many great memories from this beautiful place.

Biggest Challenge: To strike a balance between Jeff’s desire for order and minimalism with Michelle’s love for comfort and small things with historical and sentimental value.

What Friends Say: They really like the feeling of openness and flow.

Biggest Embarrassment: A very beautiful Eames coffee table that we purchased on impulse — it was much too small for the space and did not work at all in our living room. Thankfully we were able to sell it for a price close to what we paid for it.

Proudest DIY: Our cats’ litter box and all of the automation and self-sustaining elements of the reef tank that keep it healthy and keep maintenance quite reasonable.

Biggest Indulgence: Clothes, cameras, corals.

Best Advice: It often takes a while to find the furniture that you really like — take the time to buy only the things that you love, do not buy on impulse because you may regret it.

Dream Sources: ABC Carpet, Niche Modern, Herman Miller, Organic Modernism.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Resources of Note:


• Benjamin Moore: Vapor (living room/kitchen) • Benjamin Moore: Galaxy (“office” space) • Benjamin Moore: Sea life (bedroom)


• Couch: ABC Carpet • Sleeper couch: Crate & Barrel • Coffee table: Restoration Hardware • Floor lamps: Restoration Hardware • Rug: Bought in a trip to Turkey

• Painting from a Brazilian artist named


• Dining table: Organic Modernism • Pendant lights: Niche Modern • Chairs: Eames

• Bench: Etsy, from


• Bed: Pottery Barn • Nightstand: West Elm • Table Lamps: Pixo • Brass Piggy Bank: Ebay

Jeff’s picture of the Empire State printed on canvas

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

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Thanks, Michelle and Jeff!

*Tour previously published