Warm, Eclectic One Bedroom

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

Journalist Alexandra King-Lyles lives with her husband, Isaac, and their two cats in a one-bedroom apartment in (you guessed it) Brooklyn. Their home is full of charm and personality — and no shortage of inspiration — much like Alex herself. Here’s a peek inside the space, along with how to create a “love corner” and the best way to fall asleep…


Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On why everyone should live in a bad apartment: I’ve learned so much from living in a series of shitty apartments. Now, I have a three-step plan for any space I move into: crisp white walls, green plants and books. No matter what, that’s what I do. Learning how to live comfortably in a tiny space, get scum off an old gross bathtub, convince your landlord to give you a new stove because yours has rust all over it — these things are important for building character.

Sofa: Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams. Rug: West Elm. Gray armchair: IKEA. Pendant lamp: West Elm. Ottoman: vintage Franco Albini.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On rental hacks: Another thing I do when I move to a new neighborhood is locate a handyman. I work with a guy named Joe who I found on Craigslist and I’m obsessed with him! Joe swapped out my light fixtures for cuter ones and installed the ceiling fan. I’ve also learned that YouTube tutorials rock. I’ve patched walls, changed toilet seats, glazed my bathtub. When it comes to rental hacks, you can do a lot of it yourself.

Wire chair: vintage Bertoia.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On embracing cats: The cats are my husband’s, though I am definitely their mother. He adopted them seven years ago, and named them Lois and Maxine, after diner waitresses. I was always a dog person, until I met these cats. They’re both disabled, which means they’re physically lovely but a little uncoordinated. They can’t jump up on high things and they don’t have that cat-like ability to land on their feet. They don’t scratch, they don’t bite, they just want to cuddle. Now I’ve come to believe that a black cat is one of the chicest interior accessories you can possibly have.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On how your apartment is bigger than you think: The key to living in small apartments is seeing what’s right outside as an extension of your space. That way, my husband and I don’t drive each other too crazy. If you love your block, it becomes another room in your home. Our stoop was made for serving sauvignon blanc!

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On having one too many chairs: Once I saw an amazing Carter Brothers chair on Craigslist and jumped in a cab to buy it. I got it to replace an old Ikea armchair which we’ve had forever. During this time, my husband (a huge sports fan) decided that the Ikea chair contains all of the good sports juju in the world. If we ever get rid of the chair, the Dallas Cowboys will lose every game they ever play in. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ll give the chair a little shove every now and then. It drives me crazy!

On displaying meaningful objects: When I was getting married, I saw some gorgeous Valentino shoes, but they were outrageously expensive. My best friend surprised me with them as a wedding gift. After the wedding, I wanted them out on display because they make me happy. So I keep them out on the bookcase (here’s a photo), and whenever I’m feeling sad and need a little pick-me-up, I’ll drink my tea, wear my PJs, and put on my wedding shoes.

Park Slope One Bedroom

On beloved books: The books on the shelves are our favorites. Being British, I have a lot of British classics, like Jane Eyre. My husband has a great collection of art books. New paperbacks I think of as belonging to the universe, and we only keep them if they’re very much loved. One of the reasons we fell in love is that our book collections are so complementary. Our books are as happily married as we are.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On eye-catching art: My husband used to work in a gallery in Chelsea. This surfer painting was being stored there when Hurricane Sandy hit. The minute we got the call saying the gallery had been flooded, my husband ran down there to see what he could salvage. Miraculously, the painting was on top of a file cabinet and made it out unharmed, and we nicknamed it “Sandy.” Nowadays, we forget that there is a penis in our dining room — until we have a dinner party, someone takes a photo, and there is an Instagram of a person eating soup with that on top of their head.

Globe pendant light: West Elm. Dining table: IKEA. Table runner: West Elm. Chairs: Eames, via Design Within Reach. Rug: vintage Kurdish rug via eBay.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On embracing cultural differences: I’m British and my husband is from Dallas. Sometimes we don’t understand a single thing about each other. The other day, we had an instance where I was like, “It’s in the cupboard.” And he was like, “I don’t know what a cupboard is!” His favorite story about me is the time I was in a shopping center and saw a sign for Chuck E. Cheese. I thought it must be a cheese shop, so I boarded the escalator, prepared to stock up for a party. I was very surprised when I got there! But to him, I’m kind of exotic, which is fun.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On creating a “love corner”: The fridge photos are Instagram shots we printed from this awesome place Social Print Studio. According to feng shui, the southeast corner of your home is your love corner, where you’re supposed to make a little shrine to the one you love. Even though I ignore other feng shui principles, like not keeping plants in the bedroom, this one sounded sweet.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On an easy storage solution: I like to keep dry goods like grains, coffee, sugar and flour in jars. It’s done for the practical reason that mice and roaches love easy access to things, but it’s also a good way to keep them within reach. I label them with pink washi tape, and write out the contents with a Sharpie. The tape is an easy way to change things around, and it makes your storage simple but cute.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On the perils of mixed-message spaces: When you’re living in an open plan environment, it’s helpful to underline what each space is for. The bedroom should say, THIS IS THE SLEEPING AREA. The dining room is for eating. The living room is soft and comfy. If you have your desk in your bedroom, you’ll probably do shitty work and sleep badly. If you live in a tiny space, I say, go to a café, make that your work space. Mixed-message spaces are bad for everyone.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On a surprising addition: The longhorn skull above the bed is a Texas thing. I bought it for Isaac as a birthday present, because it hails from his home state. We hung it there on a whim, but now we love it. People say, “Isn’t that scary?” But we actually find it to be a comforting presence. We call her Tina.

On a calm room: I also bought an alarm clock for our bedroom. I wake up to NPR, because there’s something really comforting about waking up to voices. It’s also so essential for me to so leave my phone out of the bedroom completely, because otherwise I can’t help myself from scrolling through Instagram. Our bedroom is a place for sleeping, nothing else.

Pillows: IKEA. Bedside lamps: IKEA.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

On creating an oasis: My favorite spot in the apartment is our bed when I first wake up in the morning. The bedroom ceiling is high, and the first thing I see when I open my eyes is the beautiful snaky plants coming down in the corner of the room. It feels like paradise even though I’m waking up in the middle of a big city.

Bedding: West Elm. Planters: wicker baskets, painted white. Leather armchair: vintage, found on the street (!). Moroccan tassel blanket: similar here.

Bright Bohemian One Bedroom

Thank you so much, Alexandra! Your home is lovely. Coming soon, we also have some house tours from all over the world that we’re excited to share.

P.S. More home tours, including a San Francisco home and a Williamsburg loft.

(Photos by Katja Hentschel. Portraits of Alex and Isaac by Jen Brown. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. Becca says...

    You may have answered this but what color of white paint did you use or which colors would you recommend? We are remodeling our entire basement and i want a crisp but warm white!

  2. Oh, I just love this! What a cool space, and a fun reminder that whimsy and resourcefulness win!

  3. shelley kaminer says...

    HI Isaac and Alexander – i love your home – it is so creative and beautiful – LOVE the 2 little kitties

  4. Alyssa says...

    So wonderful! Where is your rug from?

  5. All I can say is, charming!

  6. It’s all about charm!

  7. Fiza says...

    Just one word…lovely

  8. 007 says...

    What a house! Impeccable taste for mixing! Penis included!

  9. Sally says...

    You two are soooo cute!

  10. Betsy says...

    Such a beautiful space!! Can I ask for the info of your handyman? I am just moving to park slope and would love to have someone recommended!!

  11. Did you say there was a ceiling fan? I’m in a rental with ugly dark beige walls and soul-sucking lighting. Wondering how to make the the ceiling fan fixture better, because I can’t exactly get rid of it. Any tips are welcome. Thank you! Beautiful space!

    • Hey Kelly! My tip is you CAN exactly get rid of it! A handyman can swap out a ceiling fan in about 20 minutes. It’s an easy fix and inexpensive. As far as ur ceiling fan goes, I have a super simple white one that blends into our white ceiling. Ours doesn’t have lights, but maybe you can scout for a replacement ceiling fan that fits your decor better and gives you a better lighting option? Another thing a handyman can easily do for you is to install some dimmers for your light fixtures. That can make a world of difference. Wishing you luck with it! A xxxxx

  12. Clarissa says...

    I love your home- its very warm and cozy, just what I’m trying to achieve as well, bravo to you! What can you tell me about the shelves, are they elfa shelving or something else?

    • Hey Clarissa! They’re custom. We measured them out and built them ourselves with cheap wood and brackets. And then white paint! Thanks so much for your sweet words xx

    • Clarissa says...

      Thanks so much for your response!

  13. S says...

    It really is a lovely apartment and I love all of the thoughtful and cozy details. But dude, I could not deal with a penis in my dining room. LOL:)

  14. Nina says...

    Lovely home and person. Thank you for sharing. Black cats (and dogs) are disporportionally at shelters (weird that, I have had had both and can’t figure out why?!). I want to book shelves all over my walls now. and I love your idea for mason jars and tape. we live across from a highway and due to weird American things there are fields that line them (no one wants to live right next to them in Utah so they put up sound barriers and keep a certain green space there) which means voles in the winter…one launched itself off my fucking fridge one night while I was up doing art…scared the crap out of me…and then the squealing in pain – ugh. my darn black dog did NOTHING to assist there! I usually leave one box of chewed up stuff accessible so they can keep “snacking” and then throw out the rest. sigh. mason jars…moving to those! and the penis picture…wow. definitely a conversation piece :)

  15. Beautiful place! I love the plants, the books, the kitties and that surfer!
    And maybe I’ve lived in big, Northeastern cities for too long, but their apartment actually looks kind of big. This probably says more about me than them.

  16. Sophie says...

    Love everything about this apartment, they seem like a couple with a great sense of humour. Side note – I have just scrolled through all the comments to find out what Americans call a cupboard. My mind was boggled!

  17. Erin says...

    I love a site called Beyond Marrakech for authentic beni ourian rugs. But I cannot find a cool place to find Persian rugs, or whatever type it is that she has under the dining table (deep red). Please help!

    • Hey Anamarie, RIGHT? But here’s the craziest thing. We live three doors down from Steve Buscemi (he’s LOVELY. I bump into him in the dry cleaners sometimes). He left it outside his house! So yep, that’s Steve Buscemi’s armchair. Oh NYC… xxx

  18. I adore it when there are tons of books in a dining room. I often dont use my dining table unless we have guests. But! Having a duel dining room/library makes great us of the space. It also leaves more room in the living room for seating :)

  19. Dana Wilson says...

    OMG. This home is so dreamy…..I absolutely love everything! Thank you for posting. : )

  20. Benjamin Ivanoff says...

    I like the whole concept,to me it sounds extra comfy like the honeymoon after the original,where you know each other’s boundaries,theres no rubbish cluttering the place up,a good compromise between 2 people that accept each others comfort zone to share… I think that’s awesome! Ben :-)

  21. Ang says...

    Bet these two host fun parties! From the surfer to the not-so-precious labelling with a sharpie, this is a refreshing change from the normal internet decor pages!!!! I love the surfer but can only imagine that playdates would drop off precipitously if that was on our wall!

  22. Love the love corner!

  23. Tilly says...

    I love this space. The books, the furniture, the plants; it’s all beautiful. BUT, I don’t understand the layout. I wish there was a floor plan… Where’s the front door? Where’s the bathroom? Where’s the kitchen? Is the dining room actually the hallway? So many questions… But thanks very much for sharing.

  24. Marianne Hoejaard says...

    I want to move in ASAP. It’s absolutely georgous!

  25. What lovely pictures — such an inspiration!

  26. Beautiful apartment. I love the idea of the “Love corner”. Like someone else said, the SE corner of my apartment is also my bathroom, haha, oh well. Really inspiring and lovely seeming couple! I also love the black kitchen cabinets :) (side note though, to me this apartment is MASSIVE for Brooklyn, but I suppose everything is relative! )

  27. Beautiful home – love the books! Two burning questions:

    *where’s the litter box?
    *how does one avoid getting litter everywhere? (1.5 years into cat ownership and can’t figure it out) :)

  28. Katrina says...

    I’m from Toronto and I always think that Canadians can easily bridge the American-British speak because we use both. BUT what the heck do you call a cupboard in Texas?!? I thought that word was Universal English.

    • Alex in California says...

      Kitchen cabinet

    • Ursula says...

      Me too! I am American but grew up spending stretches of time in England. (Every time my Dad got a sabbatical, we went there.) Anyway, we’ve always called them cupboards and I never realized the word was British English & not American English. You learn something new every day. :)

    • Lindsey says...

      I’m a born and bred Californian and I’ve always found cupboards/cabinets to be interchangeable. It would never occur to me that someone wouldn’t know what a cupboard was! Interesting. Now I want to go quiz all my Texas friends. ;)

  29. Elizabeth R says...

    Truly my favorite tour on your blog ever (Abby Nova’s was a close second). I love home tours in general but something about the information your blog (via Caroline and you) draw from your…tour guides?…is particularly interesting. I reread them frequently. Looking forward to more in the future.

  30. beks says...

    Lovely home!

    …but I’m curious about the cats, did they have the kitten virus that makes them the Minister of Silly Walks? “Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia” :)

    • Hahah! Yes! Spot on! That’s exactly what they have. They’re the best! xxx

  31. Oh what a dream. I actually really love the storage in the kitchen!

  32. Love the pink washi tape idea! Nicking it to label my magnetic spice jars!

  33. Felicia says...

    I love that they have a nude in the dining room! I have the F word prominently displayed in my tiny bathroom and it”s also an Instagram attraction for my friends. These little things keep your place interesting, no?

  34. Hayley says...

    What is your ‘love corner’ (south eastern room of the house) is the bathroom!

    • Yep, same question here…!

    • I think you can totally find a way to make a love corner in your bathroom- even if it’s just a sweet polaroid pic taped to the mirror! Or maybe a shell on a shelf that was salvaged from a romantic vacation? Just a couple of ideas to get you started xoxoxo

  35. yael steren says...

    I love the white rug with the black zig zags going through it!!! I plan on making over my bedroom soon so thanks for the inspiration! xx yael

  36. I love the books all over the wall-I would love to do that for my husband eventually. Great ideas-thanks for sharing!


  37. love the love corner! ;) i’ll have to do one in my new place

  38. olivia says...

    Could you do a post about buying plants in New York? So far I have only managed lugging a dozen tillandsia to my walk up and I would love to have some of these snake plants and trees in my tiny apartment life!

    • Agreed – a post about houseplants would be great. I just started a new job and my desk needs something green, but I have a black thumb and am not by a window, so advice is needed!

    • Hey Olivia. Inspired by your comment, I actually posted something on the blog about this today! xxxx

  39. Sara Aisenberg says...

    I would love to see a beauty tutorial/outlook piece for Alexandra! She is beautiful! Love her style.

  40. Jodie says...

    Wonderful apartment. I love the comment about the cats! I’m often saying how my black cat makes everything look better.

  41. Yeah, once you get used to having a penis in the dining room, you just forget it is even there .
    I love the idea of a huge photo of a surfer though .. with or with the .. well, you know .
    I really really hate bones, skulls and dead things in my home but I love love love the books and the leather chair.
    So I have a real love/hate for this home lol

  42. Mae says...

    My husband is from Europe and I am from the US. We have been together for years but still have those moments too! Me: I have NO IDEA what you are talking about right now. What did you put in the hamper???

    I am sooooo looking forward to the home tours from around the world! *squeals*

  43. Samantha says...

    The ikea chair Dallas Cowboys juju story reminds me a lot of the movie “Silverlinings Playbook” (one of my favorites:) I wish I could do a love corner, but we have the visitor’s half bathroom on the Southeast corner. It might be weird for people to see pictures of my bf and I while they take a piss, lol. Might do the love corner somewhere else, though.

  44. I love your home tours. The interviews are fantastic, and it’s such a treat getting a peek inside someone’s space. We get a sense of their routine and what they value.

  45. Karen T. says...

    Beautiful! And the surfer pic, so rad.

  46. Kate says...

    Wow – beautiful apartment! Love everything about it, especially the special cats. A NSFW warning would be appropriate at the top of this post, though!

  47. Katie says...

    Beautiful home! I need to put my dry goods in jars, because currently they just slip over and spill into my cabinet….

    My art-student roommate had painted a large nude for class, and then hung it in our living room. We wouldn’t notice the naked painting after a while, but loved the reaction of a shocked pizza delivery-man who glimpsed her large breast from the front door!

  48. elisa says...

    LOVE the way she used the bookshelves. I too, would love the specific names of the plants she used. They are lovely! I find the dining room painting to be very *distracting* :)

  49. Oh so beautiful – I feel like I could be friends with her! And how funny – soup with a penis on top of your head! x

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we felt the same way! we want to be friends with her and go to one of those dinner parties:)

  50. heather says...

    This post should have been called, “Warm, Eclectic One Bedroom WITH A BIG PENIS PICTURE.” Because then maybe I wouldn’t have had that photo on my screen when the boss walked by.

    • Chloe says...

      Haha! At least I wasn’t the only one…

  51. Everytime I read one of these posts, I think to myself “Oh, this is my favorite apartment so far.” and then the next one comes along and I think to myself “Oh, this is my favorite apartment so far.” And then the next one happens. Too much goodness.

  52. Who is the artist who made the surfer print?

  53. Susan says...

    I got say I love the “Sandy” pic. He makes me smile! He’s definitely a conversation starter.

  54. Kim says...

    The giant penis painting!! Aghhh so awesome, my fiancé and I would be best friends with this couple :)

  55. Love all the plants! Not so sure about the surfer pic haha

  56. Oh my god those bookshelves! That bedroom! Convincing me post by post to move to Brooklyn.

  57. Clara says...

    Tell me about these plants!! — I need names of plants that do well indoors. I have a rubber tree (two rubber trees) that will be lucky if they survive the winter. Summer sun does wonders to bring things back, but my winter indoor plants look just miserable. Even my snake plant is looking yellow.

    • redweather says...

      Clara, I suggest a zz plant if you don’t have a lot of sun. They like it dark, and seem to flourish when ignored. I see zz plants flank the bed on the windowsills in this home tour. The charmingly named “mother-in-law tongue” or properly named, sansaveria is another easy one, also represented here, in the pot next to the couch in the living room. These and peace lillies (which are excellent air-quality improvers as well) have always done very well for me, despite my black thumb.

    • k.s. says...

      Redweather (or other commenter who may know more than me about plants) – what is the big floor plant between the two chairs in the living room? It’s lovely!

    • Clara says...


      And the large plant might be a banana palm?

    • Hey everyone! I did a post about my plants today on the blog! Check it out! The big plants between the chairs are a bird of paradise and a fiddle leaf fig! Hope that helps xxx

    • april says...

      Thank you!

  58. Anitra says...

    This was the best!!

  59. Nichole says...

    Love the ‘love corner.’ What a fun and sweet idea.

  60. Swooning over this apartment. We have the same move in plan for crappy apartments (clean white walls, plants and books – works like a charm).

    Also, I am so stealing the idea of a love corner. So adorable <3

  61. The wedding shoes are such a charming story, made my heart swell!

  62. jill c says...

    i’m laughing b/c I, along with the other people who have commented, are wondering about the shoes! of all things!! ha!!! lovely post by the way and beautiful home!

  63. Finally an apartment that seems to have as many books as we do. I don’t believe in hoarding, except when it comes to books. Super jealous of those built-in shelves! Someday…

  64. Annie says...

    I think you’re husband needs to let the Ikea chair go, because cleeeaaarly it’s not helping the Cowboys! (Also, hello from Dallas! :D)

    This apartment (and couple) is beautiful, but I especially love the kitties. Very sweet!

    • Annie says...

      Your*. Uuuugh. Cowboys are just too distracting for me. ;)

    • Angela says...

      I wanted to say the same thing! Ha! (Also from DFW)

    • Hahahahahah Annie you crack me up. SPOT ON. I have passed on your message. He grudgingly agreed…perhaps we’re making some headway in getting rid of that damn chair. Thanks girl ;) xxxxxx

  65. april says...

    Was there a picture of the wedding shoes in here somewhere? I love this space!

    • Tilly says...

      You can see them in the Instagram link.

  66. andra says...

    the shoes… are they the ones in the sixth photo on the shelf? dying to know!

  67. HJM says...

    What a beautiful space to call home, such great style! The only thing is that I keep thinking about that glass jar of coffee teetering precariously over the edge of the shelf– makes me so nervous!

    • Anitra says...

      Lol! I thought this too!

    • Erin says...

      haha, me too!!!! :O

    • Paula says...

      Especially as I’m in earthquake country that’s the first thing I thought of! One little temblor, and you’re picking beans out of the coffee grounds. :-)

      Other than the white walls (which I have an aversion to as they look so drab and renter-y to me), I love this place. I’ve always wanted interior French doors. Sigh.