NYC House Tour

How To Decorate A Small Space

My sister recently moved into a new apartment in Williamsburg and I’ve been helping her decorate it! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from living in small NYC apartments over the years, and which ones I incorporated into her place. There are a ton of simple ways to make a small space look and feel bigger – you just have to do a little rearranging! How To Decorate A Small Space Use a large round jute rug under a sofa or bed. A round rug completely opens up a small room and is a nice juxtaposition to a big, rectangular piece of furniture. Jute is a natural, airy, clean material that will go with any style of decor – and it’s one of the most inexpensive types of rugs. I’ve gotten mine on Wayfair, Overstock, and Pottery Barn. Use the Ikea Billy Bookcase as storage and decor. This simple white bookcase has been in every single one of my apartments! It’s been a wardrobe (the one with doors) in my college dorm and West Village apartment, a bookcase in my first NYC apartment, and it now acts as shoe + bag storage in my office. You have the option to get it with or without glass doors (it’s super chic with glass doors – and you can switch out the knobs + put wallpaper or fabric behind the glass to hide what’s inside!), and it also comes in various widths. It’s a great divider if you live in a studio and want to put 3 right next to each other. Use a narrow bench, ottoman, or acrylic piece as a coffee table. Most coffee tables are pretty big and made for large living rooms. Be sure to properly measure your space so you’re not stuck with a HUGE one! My favorite coffee tables for small spaces are; a narrow bench that you can decorate with coffee table books and trinkets to warm it up, a small fabric ottoman or two matching stools (sometimes a printed fabric is fun depending on your style!), or an acrylic/lucite piece like this one that I had in my old Upper East Side studio. If the room won’t fit a traditional coffee table, get some fun moroccan poufs, or a stack of small vintage suitcases or trunks for the space. Create a gallery wall behind your sofa, dresser, dining room table, or in a narrow entry. A gallery wall instantly lifts your eye up and makes a space feel more cozy and eclectic. You would be AMAZED at how it can transform a long, dark entryway. Don’t be afraid to hang art on a brick wall – there are special nails that make it possible. I always hire a handyman through Taskrabbit to do all of my hanging since they come equipped with the right tools. Be sure to read my; How To Find Art For Your Home blog post to see some of my favorite resources. Wallpaper a small bathroom. A beautiful, intricate patterned wallpaper can transform a tiny bathroom! Swap out a plain light fixture for a mini chandelier or pendant, and put in a pretty mirror – and you’ve got yourself a darling powder room. Incorporate vintage pieces into your space. Vintage pieces are much smaller than the furniture pieces they sell in stores today. A vintage item can add a ton of pizzaz to a space and make everything feel more homey. I never like to order sets of furniture or everything in the same type of wood/color because it ends up making a space feel crowded and sterile. Mix and match modern pieces with vintage pieces. Get a cute gold bar cart to put booze, glasses and books on. Find a fun ceramic umbrella holder for your entry. Hang baskets or hats on the wall. Mix gold and wood frames of all shapes and sizes on a gallery wall. Use a vintage leather trunk as a side or coffee table. Frame your windows with long white curtains. Quality curtains immediately make a ceiling look higher and elevate a space. They pull together any room, and give it a more chic/polished look. I’m a sucker for a thick, Belgian linen French pleat style – and in my opinion, no one does it better than Restoration Hardware. BUT their curtains are pricey, so I recommend checking out Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma Home, and West Elm for other options! Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Mirrors act as windows in a space. If you feel like your space is cramped and doesn’t have enough light or windows then add a mirror! I love the look of an oversized mirror leaning against the wall opposite of a bed to really open up a room. I also love a mirror behind a sofa, or dining room table. And last but not least, a mirror in an entry is always a good idea – not only for makeup touch ups before you leave, but just to add that extra oomph that most entries need! Use baskets as storage. I LOVE baskets. I use a basket in my living room to store extra pillows and blankets in, I use baskets in my bedroom for laundry/dry cleaning, I use baskets in my entry for groceries/errands, and I use baskets in my closet to store towels, scarves, and toiletry bags. There are a zillion places to buy baskets, but some of my favorite spots are Ralph Lauren, One Kings Lane, Serena and Lily, and Etsy. Use a dresser as a TV console. A dresser maximizes your storage space, AND in my opinion looks way better than an open TV console which shows the cable box and cords. Anthropologie has gorgeous dressers like this bone inlay one, or this carved wood one. I also always like to check World Market, vintage stores, One Kings Lane and Studio McGee’s shop for consoles! Keep clutter to a minimum. This goes without saying, but whether you live in a small or big space, my philosophy when it comes to “stuff” is always less is more! Be diligent about cleaning out your closet and cabinets. Don’t hold onto stuff that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t used in a year. Purge, purge, purge! I have an entire blog post talking about How To Clean Out Your Closet here. So be sure to check that out! I hope this post was helpful and you learned a few things :) I’d love to see photos of your space and ways that you’ve incorporated my tips + tricks in so feel free to send them way!!! As always, feel free to leave any questions you may have below! And be sure to check out all of my other Decor posts here like; How To Find Art For Your Home, Refresh Your Home For Spring, and My Favorite Coffee Table Books.
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How To Find An Apartment in NYC

Looking for a rental apartment in NYC can be a bit of a nightmare. Sketchy real estate agents, false listings, insane prices, and hidden fees galore are what you come to expect. I’ve lived in 4 different places over the course of 7 years and learned A LOT during this time. I’m going to share all of my tips, tricks and any general information you should know when it comes to apartment hunting in NYC. How To Find An Apartment in NYC You don’t have to hire a real estate agent in NYC to find a rental apartment. I’ve found all of my apartments on my own through either: Streeteasy.com, Zillow.com, or Craigslist.org. I’ve looked on Apartments.com, but never gone to see a listing from there in person. Don’t underestimate Craigslist – there are a lot of sketchy/false listings on there for sure, but if you comb through it, you’ll end up finding a legit listing like I did for my old West Village apartment. Each time I was ready to move, I basically STALKED these websites everyday and pounced on new listings that popped up. The key is acting FAST which I’ll talk more about below… If you don’t have time to be actively searching, looking and sifting through listings, then absolutely hire a realtor – but like I said, I’ve had great luck at finding spots on my own! If you’re interested in buying an apartment and need a realtor for that – email me because I know a great one who specializes in sales! How To Choose An Apartment Narrow your search down based on neighborhoods (I highly recommend walking around TONS of areas so you get a feel for them!), proximity to work, price, size, and amenities. Call and email each agent for the listing you’re interested in, and set up several appointments back to back in 1 weekend. You’ll want to see a handful of spaces so you can compare them. Then do your research. Is the apartment right next to a fire station or popular bar? Has it been infected with bed bugs recently? You can easily find that information by typing in the address to a Google search. Does the management agency have bad reviews online? (Honestly most do, so don’t let that be a total deciding factor…) Once you’ve found the place you love, put in an application immediately because places go quick – as in 1 day quick. A few hours could make all the world of a difference. How To Get The Apartment If you’re serious about moving, then you should have ALL of the paperwork for an application ready to go and saved on your desktop. Typically an apartment will want; past 2-3 paystubs (cross out any secure information), past 2-3 months of bank statements (cross out your account numbers), proof of income (in NYC your annual salary needs to be at least 40x the monthly rent, if you don’t meet that requirement you’ll need a parent or someone who does to co-sign it for you), and a credit report. If you’re trying to rent in a co-op building you’ll need the paperwork I mentioned above, plus letters of reference from past coworkers, friends, and landlords. You’ll also have to write an introduction letter about yourself. I recommend including a “cover letter” in your regular apartment application even if they don’t require it – bonus points! If it’s a co-op building, the approval process can take up to 60 days (usually it’s 30 though); so plan accordingly. Sometimes you’ll have to do an interview with the board of the building so just be prepared! The biggest thing I’ve found is that if you want an apartment you need to ACT FAST and have everything ready to go immediately after seeing + loving it. When To Look For An Apartment You’ll find the best deals aka lowest monthly rent – in the winter. Summer is prime time when all of the new graduates are moving to the city and many people are relocating, so prices and places are higher and more in demand. You should start looking and seeing places about 1 month in advance. Any further out than that would be unnecessary unless you’re set on moving into a co-op building (which could take 2 months for approval), or if you don’t mind paying rent before you’re ready to move in. Most places will approve your application within a few days. If a place is empty it will most likely be ready immediately, or it could take a few weeks until the other tenants move out and they clean/repaint. Be sure to ask the listing agent for details. Things To Look Out For Don’t sign a real estate broker agreement first thing when you walk in the door of an apartment. They often try to rope you into signing one which basically says that you HAVE to pay a commission to that person/their company if you rent the apartment they’ve shown you regardless of how much leg work they’ve done. Tell them you’re looking at multiple apartments and haven’t decided on which real estate agent or agency you want to work with and you’ll get back to them. If you like them, and are willing to work with them EXCLUSIVELY, then sign it – but READ THE FINE PRINT. I always recommend meeting with several different people in a profession before deciding on ONE to work with. This goes for lawyers, accountants, doctors, therapists, etc. The ball is in your court as the customer. You really want to find a real estate agent who is going to be ON IT and has YOUR best interests in mind. If the apartment you’re looking at is a sublease, which many Craigslist ads are for (my apartment in the West Village wasn’t; it was directly through the building’s management agency), then you need to make sure that the person leasing to YOU is allowed to sublease. You can look into this by seeing their original lease or going straight to the owner/management agency for the building. Make sure there aren’t random building fees that you’re responsible for ON TOP of the rent in a sublease situation too. Again, READ THE FINE PRINT. Check to make sure the building you love hasn’t been repeatedly infested with critters. Often times, what can happen in an older building is, (I’ve heard too many horror stories from friends…) you’ll have a tenant who’s been residing there for 40+ years, is a total hoarder, and refuses to allow anyone inside to spray, so the building continues to get re-infested and the problem never goes away. In addition to critters, you should ask the listing agent or building managers about construction plans for the area; because you certainly don’t want to move into a place and hear drilling for a year straight. Lastly, DO NOT WIRE MONEY to anyone that you are not 100% sure of is legit. Wire transfer frauds happen ALL THE TIME. Be Willing To Sacrifice If you want to live in NYC you’re going to have to sacrifice something. No apartment is perfect. Maybe it doesn’t have a washer/dryer in the building, maybe it doesn’t have an elevator, maybe it’s extremely small, but in a great neighborhood, maybe it’s big, but not in the greatest neighborhood, etc…. You ultimately need to figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice and what’s most important. I will share the things that I sacrificed early on and never cared/minded: no doorman, no microwave, tiny kitchen, no washer/dryer in building, no view, and no AC. Having a doorman is great, but if you can get a PO Box or send packages to your office then do that. Having a tiny kitchen with no microwave honestly isn’t a big deal. You eat out in NYC so much or order take out that it’s just not a huge inconvenience. Not having a washer/dryer in your building isn’t a big deal either because it’s so easy to find a dry cleaner to pick up and drop off laundry. Not having a good view never really affected me as long as I had good natural light. And lastly, barely anyone has central AC in NYC. I always just bought a window unit from Home Depot and installed it in the summer, then placed it in storage for the rest of the year – no big deal. Things that I wouldn’t be willing to negotiate for now (and again this is just me/my personal preferences; we are all different): elevator, neighborhood, good natural light, and low noise levels. Having an elevator is a game changer for heavy suitcases when you’re traveling and God forbid if you ever break something. Decent natural light from windows is important during those dark, dreary winter months. Neighborhood is SUPER important to me because it’s what I’m exposed to every single day when I walk out my door. I want to love the restaurants, shops, hotels, people, parks, architecture, and the overall vibe I’m surrounded by. And in terms of noise; it’s NYC so you’re never going to have total peace and quiet, but of course, there are certain areas that are more quiet than others. Just be cognizant of where your apartment is situated and ask things like; Is it overlooking a busy street or in the back of a building where the noise is muffled? Is it near a fire station? A bar? A nightclub? A school? A hospital? A construction site? All things to be aware of! Cost of Living in NYC + Negotiating Tips It’s no secret that housing in NYC is expensive. I can’t say exactly how much you should pay because I don’t know your financial situation. I also can’t say how much a typical apartment costs because prices vary widely much based on neighborhood, building, amenities, etc. When you’re looking for an apartment, be sure to do ample research and compare the price per square footage of other similar apartments in the area to the one you’re looking at. You should look at past rentals in the same building (Streeteasy provides this info) to see if they compare to the apartment you’re interested in, and what rent those tenants were paying going back as far as 2 years. You can use that as leverage if you’re trying to negotiate the monthly rent. Usually, you can finagle a little bit off the asking price, so don’t be afraid to offer $100-$200 less per month for rent. If you REALLY want the apartment and think it’s a pretty fair price, then be careful not to low ball because you might lose out on it. You can usually negotiate the broker’s fee down too so don’t be afraid to say you only want to pay 1 months rent; not 15% of the yearly rent. I have always had to pay a brokers fee even when they barely did anything. It’s just how this game works, but I’ve never paid more than 1 months rent. If you’re hesitant on getting a roommate in the city – don’t be! It’s extremely cost effective and really nice when you’re just getting started! Where To Live In NYC – Neighborhoods Every neighborhood has something special to offer. And everyone’s preferences are so different. Maybe you have kids and want more of a residential, tree lined street feel. I’d recommend certain parts of the West Village, Tribeca, or Brooklyn; particularly Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill. Maybe you are fresh out of college and want something super safe, quiet, and affordable. I’d recommend the Upper East Side. Maybe you’re single and love going out, so you want a lively neighborhood close to the best restaurants and bars. I’d recommend Soho or West Village. Maybe you don’t want to feel like you’re living in the city. I’d recommend Brooklyn. The best way to figure out what neighborhood is ideal for you is to walk around it. And if you’re really unsure, rent an Airbnb or hotel room in the area for a few days to get the full experience. I’ve most recently lived in Soho and West Village and have only amazing things to say about both neighborhoods. If those neighborhoods didn’t exist I’d probably live in Noho or Tribeca. There are SO many wonderful neighborhoods though, so be open and see what sticks out to you! Move-In Tips Before you move in, I recommend doing a walk through to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape. The walls should have been repainted, the apartment should have been deep cleaned, and all appliances should work. Test things out – turn on the hot and cold water, run the dishwasher, open the fridge, and make sure all of the windows lock. Before you move your furniture in, I’d highly suggest getting an exterminator to come in and spray + seal any holes. This is NYC and something we all need to think about. Critters come up through the back of the oven, holes in closets, gaps in doors, etc so be smart and seal your place early on. Also, if you have a fire escape outside your apartment, I would get a wood bar from Home Depot to put in your window as an extra safety precaution. Speaking of fire – get a fire extinguisher to keep under your kitchen sink. You never know when you’ll need it! And lastly, if you don’t have a dead bolt, add one. I hope I covered all of your questions about finding an apartment in NYC! It can be a daunting experience – and stressful for sure, but in the end it’s so worth it to live in the best city in the world. Feel free to leave any questions below!
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How To Find Art For Your Home

I’ve been searching high and low for the perfect piece of art for my new entryway! I want it to be a simple, black + white abstract painting, set in a wood frame. You’d think it would be easy to find, but it’s actually been quite tricky! The space it needs to hang in is long and narrow – and I want the piece to be subtle so it doesn’t clash with my other decor. I talked about my hunt for artwork on Instagram and so many of you sent in helpful suggestions. I wanted to share them here, along with the sources I’ve looked to for art in the past! Where To Find Art Etsy Etsy is my #1 destination for affordable, unique art. I have bought a ton of prints from Etsy over the years, and used my own frames to hang them. I not only buy prints, but macrame pieces, beautiful rugs, furniture and party favors from the site. One Kings Lane One Kings Lane has such gorgeous framed art pieces. I love that they have a very curated mix of art so you’re not too overwhelmed with a million options. I always find something I want to buy when I’m browsing – and often it’s a piece I haven’t seen anywhere else. Williams Sonoma Home You may remember these black and white brush stroke prints (also love this one) from my West Village apartment – those were from Williams Sonoma Home. Their art is on the pricier side, but it’s really high quality, looks more expensive than it is, and is sure to make a statement. Anthropologie I’m a huge fan of Anthropologie’s home decor section. I’ve ordered several pieces of furniture from them in the past (nightstands and my new dresser) – and have my eye on several of their art pieces like this and this. McGee and Co. This interior design duo couple has a firm and decor shop that always leaves me swooning! Their furniture selection is on point, and the art they have is equally amazing. I particularly love this abstract print and this pink knotted print. Society6 This is a relatively new-to-me site, but they have a fun selection of colorful, modern prints and photos. This black and white abstract print caught my eye – I wish they made it in a bigger size! Art.com Art.com unsurprisingly has a massive selection of art! And I really like how they curated sections which make it easier to peruse the site. I clicked on their “Neutrals Collection” and found a nice assortment. Minted I was really impressed with the art on Minted! They had some really expensive/high end looking prints and photos, and a wide array of frames and sizes for you to choose from. They make it so easy to swap out and see the different frame styles which I loved. A ton of you always ask me about my oversized wave photo which is on the pricier side. I was able to find several look-alike options that were way more affordable – so be sure to check them out here, here and here! Horchow Horchow has a beautiful assortment of art on the higher end side. I loved these two matching pieces, and this horse photo which would really make a statement in an entry or living room. Lulu & Georgia I loved the eclectic mix of art on the site – they’ve really upped their selection over the years. This black + white abstract print is stunning, and this framed piece would look so cool in a beach or desert house. Desenio A reader shared this site with me and I was so impressed with the variety of prints on their site. They have a really modern/cool/chic selection of prints of all different sizes and offer several framing options as well. St. Frank You may remember my oversized piece of art from St. Frank in my Venice House. It was one of my absolute favorites and I always got compliments on it! They have small and large pieces that will add a chic bohemian touch to the art for your home. Vintage, Consignment, and Yard Sales Art is deeply personal and I love when people mix and match frames, colors, and styles together. Often times, the most special and unique pieces come from small, off the beaten path shops. I encourage you to seek out the little stores full of treasures in your town – you never know what you may find! In LA, Melrose and Rose Bowl Flea Markets always have great finds, and in NYC, I love John Derian and Brooklyn Flea. Simply Framed Make your own art with Simply Framed. Just send in photos, prints, scarves, or textiles, pick a frame, and their team will send it back to you ready to hang. I absolutely loved working with them a year ago on pieces in my old dining nook and living room. Custom Art For Your Home Have a piece of art for your home commissioned especially for you by a talented artist. I recently discovered Angela Allen’s stunning art thanks to one of you lovely readers and am working with her to create something for my new space. Don’t be afraid to mix and match art for your home! Have fun with it! Mix big frames with little frames, gold frames with black frames, abstract paintings with vintage photographs. You can see how I’ve layered my art in my home in past decor posts here! A ton of my inspiration comes from Pinterest – so you can always follow me there to see what I have my eye on. I’ve recently been LOVING a designer Josh Young, who I found via This is Glamorous. I’ve gotten so many ideas from the way he layers his art! Where do you like finding art? Share some of your favorite artists with me below!
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My NYC Apartment Pt. 3

It’s been so funny staying in a hotel rather than my apartment since I moved! But for some, they prefer staying in an apartment. I can’t complain about staying in the dreamy Palace hotel uptown, but a part of me does miss my cozy little abode in the West Village that I called home for 3 years ;)  Here are the last and final pictures from my apartment reveal shot by the lovely Charissa Fay.  You can find all furniture details here and here.  You can also read about the inspiration behind the space on MyDomaine, The Every Girl, and Domino.
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