This NYC Fashion Designer’s Studio Apartment Is the Perfect Mix of Modern and DIY

This NYC Fashion Designer’s Studio Apartment Is the Perfect Mix of Modern and DIY

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Name: Courtney Geist
Location: Manhattan — New York, New York
Size: 330 square feet
Type of Home: Studio apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

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I am a fashion accessories designer in NYC. I currently design cosmetic bags and have previously designed belts, hats, gloves, scarves, bedding, and sleepwear. Outside of work I love to draw, thrift, and DIY. I often share my DIYs and prints on Instagram and Redbubble.

I found my apartment at the height of the pandemic and completely lucked out. As soon as I saw the checkerboard flooring and abundant natural light, I knew it was the spot for me. The location is also perfectly situated between friends, my office, and Trader Joe’s! I spend time in my apartment drawing, attempting to cook, making espresso martinis, and DIYing.

Inspiration for the decor began with the checkerboard flooring. Having studied textile design in college, I love to infuse patterns wherever I can. In areas of gathering like the kitchen and living room, I layered more black and white patterns. In areas of rest such as the bathroom and bedroom, I chose tonal white patterns and textural pieces for a calmer look. Ultimately, I wanted to make my space feel like an oasis in the middle of New York.

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is always changing. As a creative, I am influenced by what I find fresh or unique. These days I am most inspired by Scandinavian and mid-century modern aesthetics. When decorating my apartment, the goal was to mesh multiple looks, so I never tire of my space.

Inspiration: I grew up watching more HGTV than I should admit. As a kid, I dreamt of DIYing and decorating my own space. These days I don’t have as much time to binge watch HGTV, but I love to keep up with Architectural Digest Open Door, Alexandra Gater, Lone Fox Home, and Apartment Therapy articles, of course. Working as a designer also provides ample inspiration as I am always on the hunt for the latest trends. Aesthetics often transcend product categories and something like a sweater will inspire a design for a pillow.

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: It is impossible to choose just one element! I love the view from my windows, the checkerboard floors, the amazing ceiling height, and so much more. The view is especially wonderful. It has the perfect vignette of buildings that I must draw one of these days.

Biggest Challenge: New York’s cost of living threw quite the wrench in my design plans. I had to get creative when furnishing and decorating the space on a budget. Many pieces were thrifted, given to me by friends, DIYed, or were literally found on the curb. New Yorkers get rid of so much furniture and decor in great condition. At the beginning of every month, my walk to work is littered with amazing pieces that simply need a fresh coat of paint.

Credit: Erin Derby

Proudest DIY: A majority of my artwork is DIYed, but my proudest DIY is my rattan cabinet. I found this cabinet while walking home and didn’t even blink — it was coming home with me. I gave it a fresh coat of paint, switched out the hardware, and added rattan to the glass using E-6000 glue.

Biggest Indulgence: The best investment for my small space was a bed with storage. I was adamant about finding a unique upholstered style, and Wayfair had just the piece. The four drawers under the bed are a lifesaver for my seasonal clothing and ever-growing fabric collection.

Credit: Erin Derby

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? My space is very long, as it is a railway-style home. The hallway was especially daunting to decorate. Over the years, I have accumulated several postcards from trips, exhibits, and restaurants. I decided to mount magnetic strips in the hallway to showcase my postcard collection.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love my thrifted items. The scavenger hunt of thrifting is thrilling, especially when I find something I have never seen before. Adding unconventional pieces to my space brings me joy every time I see them. My latest find is a set of four quirky espresso mugs.

Credit: Erin Derby

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I tried to make every piece of furniture I was purchasing new have two or more purposes. For example, my ottoman is also my accessories storage. My kitchen island houses three small appliances. My desk doubles as a WFH desk and an area large enough to cut and sew fabric. If a piece I wanted to buy brand new did not fit that description, I would look for a better alternative.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Invest time or money into your artwork! Your rented apartment may not last forever, but you can take your artwork with you to the next place. Buy some artwork from friends. DIY something simple. Print out pictures of you and your loved ones! Adding to your walls makes a space so much more personal.

Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Tommen Animal Print Rug — Wayfair
  • Clinchport Loveseat — Wayfair
  • Schmucker Bench — Wayfair
  • Gucci Tiger Faces Scarf — The Real Real
  • Rossford Nesting Tables — Wayfair
  • Rattan Cabinet — Curbed / DIYed
  • Mirror — Curbed
  • Wishbone Chair — Curbed
  • Zebra pillow — Thrifted
  • Milo Dresser — Prepac
  • Nuala Knobs — Anthropologie
  • Decanter — Marketplace
  • Flower Candle — Urban Outfitters
  • Stackers Jewelry Storage — Container Store
  • Standing Lamp — Marketplace
  • Margarita Girl Print — Marketplace
  • New Yorker Print — Artists & Fleas
  • Scottsdale Cacti, Herald View, and Blob Prints — I made them! Available on my Redbubble
Credit: Erin Derby


  • International Concepts Kitchen Cart — Walmart
  • Chairs — From a friend
  • Guillot Table — Wayfair
  • Plates — Marimekko
  • Hand Towel — Marimekko
  • Espresso mugs — Thrifted
  • Curtain — DIYed
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Brittany Storage Platform Bed — Wayfair
  • Bryant Quilt — Macy’s
  • Green Throw Pillows — TJ Maxx
  • Lumbar Pillow — DIYed
  • Grid Flag Blanket — Wayfair
  • Desks — Thrifted
  • Legacy Desk Chair — Overstock
  • Helmer Drawers — IKEA
  • Florist Print — Thrifted
  • Geo Shaped Candle — Urban Outfitters
  • Desk Organizers — DIYed
  • Planters — Thrifted
  • Patterned Glass Vase — H&M
  • Hanging planters — Umbra
  • Mirrored Bedside Table — From a friend
  • Saratoga 2007 Travers Poster — Thrifted
  • Arch Rattan Wall Hanging — DIYed
  • Curtains — RYB Home
  • Lamps — Marketplace
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Soap dispenser — H&M
  • Faux plants wall hanging — DIYed
  • Haven Bathmat — Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Hand Towels — TJ Maxx
  • Dainty Floral Print — Available on my Redbubble

Thanks Courtney!

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