Cup of Jo editor Caroline lives in a converted loft that was once a pasta factory. Her space is fun, cool and a little weird, just like her. Here are some more photos, if you’d like to see…
How I got here: Since house tours are supposed to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse, I’d love to give you a peek behind the curtain. Last fall, I wrote about a difficult breakup.
But these things are never simple. As Seinfeld said, “Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can’t do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.” In the months following the breakup, we tried to reunite for a short time. But once again, we arrived at all of the same conclusions, and I resumed living alone.
These photos were a month ago, and capture my home at a time when it was full of mutual possessions. While these images do, in fact, feature my apartment, I wouldn’t want to pretend that what you see here is 100% a reflection of me. Some of the furniture has left, some of the views have changed. A lot remains the same. House tours are meant to look shiny and inspiring, and I hope this is no exception. But, as always, what you see on blogs or Instagram is only part of the story. There is always more outside the frame.
On moving: I moved to NYC in 2002 and have lived in twelve different spaces since then. Twelve! Just saying that makes me tired. While I don’t relish the packing or the stress, I do love how every new apartment feels like a blank canvas — new space, new energy, new routines. I plan to stay put for now, though. This finally feels like home.
On growing an urban jungle: Don’t let the plants fool you; my thumbs are not green. The trick is choosing plants that ward off death—species that thrive in the face of neglect. I’ve had succulents for years — they’re the ultimate gateway plants. For everything else, my friend Rebecca runs a company called Greenery NYC, which specializes in really amazing plant installations, designs and events. She helped me choose and pot some of the more impressive additions, like the pencil cactus on top of the lockers.
On keeping things fresh: I once took an exhaustive multiple-choice test in high school that was supposed to reveal your ideal career. My top two careers were “Puppeteer” and “Furniture Arranger.” At the time, I found both of these things confusing, but they may have been on to something with the latter. I rearrange things ALL THE TIME. A space never feels “done” to me; it’s a living, breathing reflection of its inhabitant.
On embracing your aesthetic: You know when you open a design magazine and there’s some beautiful home that’s all white and wood and they have like three books? I’ve always imagined that those people must have these very functional lives to match their very functional homes. I tried — for years and years — to be a minimalist, but have finally accepted that it just isn’t going to happen. I like crystals and opulence and collecting weird objects. Now I just strive for organized chaos. That’s where I feel happiest.
On creating a gathering place: The table is where everything happens—it’s a dining room, an office, an extension of the kitchen counter. Many glasses of wine have been shared atop it, and it has played host to Friday the 13th Ouija board gatherings and countless rounds of Bananagrams. It’s way too big for one person, which is actually a nice reminder to be social!
Dining table: Custom. Chairs: Pottery Barn. Pendant lamp: ABC Home.
On collecting cookbooks: Working in book publishing for years, I amassed a crazy collection of cookbooks, which live on the uppermost shelf. I find baking so therapeutic and have made it a Sunday night ritual. These brownies are my favorite — to both make and eat.
On open shelving: I have a love-hate relationship with this kitchen. For one thing, it isn’t really a kitchen–it lines one of the walls of the main living space. Instead of cabinets, there is open shelving. Open shelving keeps things feeling airy, but is a particularly dangerous feature for obsessive neatniks. Many (many) minutes have been wasted styling and arranging serve-ware. But it looks nice when it’s done!
On embracing old school appliances: My kitchen is akin to Instagram: Looks great; doesn’t tell the full story. The vintage farm sink spouts only hot water. It’s often cluttered with dishes, which I tend to procrastinate washing. I haven’t had a dishwasher or a microwave in years. In fact, I’ve kind of forgotten they exist!
On people in glass houses: The bathroom is nestled between the bedroom and the rest of the living space, and its doors are steel and glass. Aesthetically speaking, tempered glass seems like a good idea, because it lets the light pass through. But in practice, it’s fairly see-through. As you might imagine, this is especially fun for parties. It helps everyone bond!
On creating a zen space: Since this photo was taken, I added this headboard, which I’m loving. When it comes to bedding, I’m a devotee of white sheets and a fluffy down comforter — something about that combination is so relaxing. I once read that the reason hotel beds feel so comfortable is actually because of the white sheets. I’m a big fan of my little Muji alarm clock. I used to use my iPhone, but found I would immediately start scrolling through Instagram or answering emails before I was fully conscious, which was a terrible way to wake up. These days, I’m all about the analog.
Bedding: Ikea. Nightstand: Vintage. String lights: Restoration Hardware.
On book hoarding: If you came to my apartment, you’d probably find me here, sprawled out on the floor, as it’s where the majority of the books live. (There’s also always a rotating stack of whatever I’m reading next to my bed. Anything else I cram wherever I can — precarious towers of books rise all over the apartment.) I’ll never, ever get rid of a book I love, but sometimes, if it’s an old paperback I know I’ll never read again, I’ll force myself to part with it. After working in publishing and seeing how much love and care goes into every book, I can’t bear to see them being discarded. It actually hurts my soul.
On organizing bookshelves: For many years, I organized my books by color—a polarizing design choice. This time around, I wanted my space to feel more organic and carefree, so now they’re roughly shelved by topic. In high school, I worked part-time at my town’s local library where one of my jobs was edging—pulling each book out right to very end of the shelf, which keeps them looking neat and uniform. Since then, I have a compulsive need to edge every shelf I come across.
On choosing art: I saw this painting and immediately fell in love with it, because it looked like Abe Lincoln chilling in France with a dog friend. I assumed it was actually just a painting of a random doppelgänger, but when I bought it, they wrote it up as “Abraham Lincoln with dog.” So it’s actually him! It turns out the artist, Hidir Jiang Tapanoglu, paints unique presidential portraits. I smile whenever I see it.
On a room with a view: The front wall of the apartment is entirely made of windows. Hands-down, this is my favorite thing about the space. It’s like living art — the helicopters, the weather patterns, the cabs speeding over the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. There is always so much movement — it never gets old. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll take in the vastness of what’s going on outside and immediately feel calmer. It makes me aware of how small I am, in the best possible way. I fear for the inevitable day when some fancy new high-rise will block it out, but in the meantime, I feel so lucky to have it.
Thank you so much, Caroline!