Before And After: Greenwich Village Apartment
Back in January I wrote about the design vision for my friend Jarrard's one bedroom apartment, and look! It's finally here! I didn't think we'd stick closely to the plan I outlined, but it turns out we didn't stray far.
The apartment is blessed with bright, beautiful light and white walls that make everything look fresh. The downside is the space is very small, with limited storage, so every decision about furniture mattered a lot. You can see the full floor plan in this post, and here's what it looked like when he moved in:
The most important decision we faced for the living room was the couch, since it would take up the most real estate in the room. After a lot of online shopping, in-person comparisons, and general indecision, we went with the Sven leather sectional from Article.
We also considered the Hamilton leather sectional from West Elm, but it was more expensive and had that shiny leather look I didn't love as much. And we kept a close watch on Craigslist, but nothing perfect turned up in time.
It's definitely scary buying a couch online without sitting on it first. But all of the positive and detailed reviews online, like this one, made us feel better, along with the knowledge that we could return it for any reason with Article's generous return policy.
Luckily, it was even better in real life than we had imagined!
The leather is incredibly soft so it's not cold or slippery the way leather couches can be. It has a nice leather smell, and it's clearly going to get pleasantly worn over time. The sectional also fills the corner nicely. We thought about orienting the couch facing the fireplace, it would have meant finding a couch that was less than 80 inches wide, which is hard to find.
You might notice that the entire apartment is filled with fabulous art on the walls, and you might wonder where it all came from. Jarrard happened to be in the Bay Area in January the weekend of the famous White Elephant sale. Since it's my favorite weekend of the year, I hauled him along and told him to be on the lookout for great art.
The White Elephant sale is a massive warehouse sale in Oakland organized annually for charity, and the scale and scope of art, furniture and housewares for sale is hard to comprehend.
I would love to say we had a strategy for how we selected and purchased the art, but in the wild frenzy of the sale, we kind of just grabbed things at random and put them in a cart. Most of the art averaged about $5 for small drawings, up to $200 for massive original paintings, so it felt too good to pass up anything that caught our eye. We ended up with 23 pieces of art that we shipped back to New York, and they looked incredible when we hung them on the walls. It was a TIME.
I'm sorry to say this isn't a very replicable strategy if you're looking for art today. But I do think you should bookmark the White Elephant sale on your calendar for next year (January 27, 2019), since you're bound to find something you love.
I really love this cement side table that Jarrard bought off Craigslist. Just like the cement coffee table in my own living room, I think the material of the table provides such a nice contrast in material to the rest of the room. I also love how the short, squat table contrasts with the tall, skinny vintage lamp on top.
Here you can see the full angle of the room, and how we put the clothes dresser in the living room where it doubles as a TV stand. It's a good reminder that when you live in small spaces, you can get creative with where you store things, even if it isn't the room where you traditionally put things. Store your winter clothes in kitchen cabinets! Put your dresser in the bathroom!
If you're looking for inspiration in this department, this blog has a series called "Life in a Tiny Apartment" that is full of clever, small-living suggestions.
We also struggled with what to do with this corner. The brick wall, though painted white, has beautiful texture in person. We didn't want to hide the fireplace, but since it's non-working, it doesn't serve much function. We strongly considered putting a big comfy chair there, and a tiny desk somewhere else. (I especially loved this tiny West Elm secretary desk as an option).
Ultimately we decided that having a spacious table for working and eating was more useful than having another chair, and the tulip shape of the table would cover up the fireplace the least. Both the dining table and the coffee table are visually light.
For inside the fireplace, we filled it with remaining artwork (since we had so much), and the chairs were a Craigslist find. I love how they put a modern spin on a traditional Windsor chair.
Above the TV and dresser we installed my favorite Ikea Algot shelving. Algot is truly the perfect shelves for all your books, plants, and knick knacks, and it filled the alcove of the room perfectly here.
The bedroom has the most limited space in the apartment, since there is essentially room for a queen bed and not much else. We took advantage of the floor space by going with the Ikea Malm storage bed, which is extremely cool. The panel of slats lift off the base of the bed to reveal storage space underneath. (You do need room to stand at the base of the bed to lift it.)
Ikea also sells the same bed with drawers on both sides of the bed, but if you only have access to one side of the bed, the lift-up model works well.
The painting above the bed came from Everything But the House, a poorly-named but cleverly-designed online auction website that has great finds on art and furniture. The sconce is from Schoolhouse Electric, and it is beautiful. It has a fabric-wrapped cord that is a work of art in itself.
The closet originally had two sliding doors that looked nice but were a pain. You could only open one at a time, meaning you could never fully take stock of everything in the closet. So we took the closet doors off (with the landlord's permission) and hung white curtains over the opening instead. For the curtains, we used the same techniques I used in this post. The result is a much more accessible closet.
The living room rug was an eBay find, and I love how it grounds the space and adds weight and tradition to this bright, modern room. I also highly suggest hiding your radiators and air conditioning units with plants.
This is the view from the couch, which unfortunately puts the bathroom door front and center in your view. But I like how orienting the couch toward the kitchen opens up the whole space. If someone is cooking in the kitchen, they don't feel left out of the party. And it gave us the most flexibility in choosing a couch size.
One particular word about the lighting. The ceilings are not extraordinarily tall, and Jarrard is fairly tall, so we didn't want him hitting his head on a hanging pendant light. But we wanted something high-impact that would pack a visual punch.
I discovered Illuminate Vintage on Etsy, which sells affordable, quality light fixtures handmade in the USA. They have a TON of styles and options and you can customize them all based on your size needs. We purchased this one for Jarrard's ceiling with a very low drop, but so many other styles caught my eye, like this brass wall sconce, black vanity light, or this black and gold chandelier.
This was such a fun challenge, and I love how cozy and colorful the apartment turned out. Thank you Jarrard for being a dream client!
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