This year has been one of major transitions for me, including an apartment back in my birthplace – The Bronx, NYC. Being in my new space was a fresh start, a clean slate and I decided to take full control. I’ve decorated this place to my heart’s content and it is a direct reflection of my personality. It’s a little glam, but not too much. It’s earthy but still has an airiness to it. The decor is ethnic without being overtly so.
When most people visit me, they say there’s a sense of calm in the place.
That’s exactly what I wanted.
So here it is, the much requested tour of my space. It’s a work in progress! (I also realized looking through these photos that I don’t have any of my bedroom or my kitchen, so I’ll have to do separate posts for those).
T H E C O U C H
The living room is the most important space in a house, in my opinion. It’s where I spend the most time between being a home office and my place for communing with my friends when they visit. I knew it had to be a) comfortable and b) convertible for when I have overnight guests. I also have always wanted a bright, velvet, tufted couch so when I saw this one I jumped at it. It checked all of my boxes AND it was affordable! I did have to put it together myself, but with the help of my mom we had it done in less than 30 minutes. And honestly we spent most of that time trying to figure out where the parts were (it’s packed very compactly to make it easier to ship, haha).
Above the couch are two pictures that mean very much to me. The Erté poster I picked up from Royal Street in New Orleans from an art gallery during one of my many visits. It took so much for me to get it back to NYC in one piece, so having it hanging above the couch is a victory in itself. The Josephine Baker poster is an homage to the queen herself, and often reminds me to both live freely and represent. It’s the first thing I see in the morning when I walk out of my bedroom. I love it. Both of these pieces are subtle nods to queendom.
Renter’s Hack #1: Look for furniture that does double-duty, like a sleeper sofa or a storage ottoman. I’ve even seen really cool storage coffee tables!
C O R N E R S
Corner one is kind of where I pull my sh*t together before I leave. My shoes are here and most times my wallet. It’s one of many spots I burn candles in the house, and it’s the home of my beauty basket. Whenever I have friends over, I tell them to go through the basket and take samples of products I’m sent! There’s also a stack of dope books I love – the top one being a parisian tour guide of sorts that I picked up during a random stroll in Paris. I happened upon Colette (RIP) and it was glorious. There’s also Jessamyn Stanley’s body positive “Every Body Yoga” and a fashion sketching book.
Corner two is my painting corner, which is actually a terrible idea in retrospect. I like to sit here and go to town, but I never put a tarp down so there’s speckles of paint on the ground (don’t tell my landlord, haha). This has also become my space for packages and obviously another spot for candles.
Renter’s Hack #2: If there’s a lack of light in your place or you just don’t have a green thumb, spring for faux plants. Mix with succulents and hard-to-kill ferns so people can’t tell which are real!
H O M E O F F I C E / W O R K S P A C E
I fought so much with myself about where to put my workspace. I couldn’t decide between the living room and the bedroom. The living room eventually won, and I really wanted to maximize the space so I searched high and low for a ladder desk. It’s not bulky which gives the illusion of more space in the room, and it has shelves upward so it gives storage while simultaneously filling the white wall space. I remembered my girl Hayet Rida posted this one and I went and spent my good coins on it. It’s absolutely worth the investment. It fits my Mac perfectly.
Renter’s Hack #3: If you need to have a workspace, go for a ladder desk (if you need storage) or a c-table (if you don’t) to maximize your square footage.
It was also really important for me to have a light specifically for the desk. This one gives off a nice dimmer vibe which is helpful when I’m burning the midnight oil, and also provides an even glow for when I’m doing Instagram Live/videos/etc. Being next to the window was also clutch because I know I need sunlight and air flow to be productive.
For seating, I opted for a dining chair because it’s comfier and since my desk is in an open space I want everything to meld together. I felt like an office chair would make it feel too stuffy and would just clash with everything else in the room.
D I N I N G A R E A
I think my dining area is the coolest part of my apartment, to be honest. I put a lot of thought into making an intentional, separate area to have meals. I knew I’d be having plenty of conversations over dinner and a glass of wine here, so I wanted to make sure this corner was conducive to that. Again, I am always trying to maximize the space and make it look bigger in here so I opted for a library bench for additional storage and a glass table. I also wanted to make each area feel like it’s own room so I bought a pendant light to hang over the table like a chandelier.
Renter’s Hack #4: If you want a chandelier/spotlight without having to install anything (or if your landlord doesn’t allow it), get a pendant light! You just plug into an outlet and hang from the ceiling.
To continue with the airy appearance, I went with a set of dining chairs that were light and wiry and added faux fur pillows for texture. Instead of a tablecloth I found this runner, and I mixed white ceramic plates with wood bowls and gold utensils to tie the space together. I found a mirror for $10 at a random store and painted it white. And for my favorite part of the place:
Renter’s Hack #5: If you cannot paint the walls, use washi tape to create designs as an alternative.
My line designs on the walls took me all of ten minutes with the help of a friend guiding my eye. You can freestyle like I did, or check out Pinterest for lots of ideas. I recommend washi tape in particular because when you pull it off the wall, it doesn’t strip the paint like an electrical tape would.
W A L L S
Since my walls are white, it’s very easy for them to look bare so I fill the space with things that are important to me. With my new shorter hairstyle, I’m able to wear hats so I hang them so they’re easily accessible. I drew the two framed patterns, and the fans I picked up in Brooklyn this summer. The two pieces of artwork are people’s interpretations of my photos – one from How Heart Thou and the more abstract line drawing from Mae Vois – and I have built quite a collection of art that I need to hang.
Shop my NYC Apartment
Much love to BUSTLE for asking me to share my apartment on their Instagram!
Photography by M Jones Imaging