Our house tour

I’d love to show you a few photos of our Manhattan apartment, if you’d like to see. I’d always found our place cozy, but we could never get the decor quite right. So this past winter, the amazing designer Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook gave our apartment a little makeover. She had beautiful, clever, and surprisingly inexpensive ideas. Want to take a peek?

Since our fireplace is non-working, Jenny filled it with cut wood, which I adore. (It felt like a Domino Magazine touch!) Our mantlepiece displays a photo I bought from Brooklyn photographer Anne Hall (from a series she sweetly describes as “horses and their girls”); two family photos; and Toby’s first toy.
Alex loves mixing old-school cocktails, so we thought it would be fun to have a bar cart in the living room. Jenny scouted this amazing vintage brass cart on Craigslist. (The story behind it was sweet: The man who sold it to us revealed that his grandfather had given it to his grandmother as a tenth anniversary present.) Then, to make the room look bigger, Jenny found a giant mirror at a flea market and painted it a rich blue. (She’s a genius at transforming things with paint.)
Our place barely has any closets (welcome to New York!), so we’re always craving more storage space. Jenny found this vintage campaign-style dresser and painted it black to make it look brand new. She also found the 1960’s brass lamp at a flea market. (The vintage brass deer is from etsy, and the Diptyque Paris candle is my favorite scent–Feu de Bois–which smells like a roaring fireplace.)
Since I work from home, I desperately needed a desk. So Jenny found this a-maz-ing campaign-style vintage desk, which is now my favorite piece in our whole apartment. She also scouted a vintage desk chair and painted it dusty blue. (Alex’s black globe is from eBay. And I was lucky enough to buy the flying car photo from Brooklyn photographer Matt Porter a few years ago.)Our apartment’s hardwood floors are elegant but not that cozy (especially with a new baby), so Jenny found us a graphic Pottery Barn rug on eBay. She sewed the blue linen curtains herself–insisting that long curtains would make the room look bigger (true). She then brightened up our ho-hum wooden coffee table by painting it a glossy black. (I bought the curved-backed wooden chair from Nightwood a few years ago, and our friend Rachel gave us the British pillow as a gift.)
Our prewar apartment has built-in bookcases (such a treat!), but they were looking a little blah, so Jenny cleverly painted the backs of each shelf a gorgeous dusty blue. She also hung our captain’s mirror (which I had gotten a while back at Anthropologie) on the bookcase–a classic touch I never would have thought of. Alex had always wanted a sheepskin throw, so Jenny found a soft (and cheap) one at IKEA. Jenny also found the vintage office lamp and…wait for it…painted it blue. :)
Finally, here’s a quick photo of our bedroom, which we try to keep sweet and simple, since Alex and I tend toward insomnia. The black-and-white photo shows Alex’s family driving an old Triumph TR3 in California (they had stuffed a family of five into a two-seater; “Ahh, the 1960’s,” says Alex:), and I bought the seagull photograph from Portland fisherman/photographer Corey Arnold. The pendant lamp was $5 from IKEA, and my grandmother made the needlepoint pillow!

Thank you so much for turning our shabby apartment into a beautiful home, Jenny. And, readers, if your house is craving a makeover, I would recommend Jenny 1,000 times over. (FYI, she’s moving to New York this summer!)

Next up: Toby’s nursery :)

(Photos by our friend Karen Mordechai, who does Sunday Suppers, wedding photography, and family photography)

  1. Amazingly nice decor of home, everything is like creative home design. I loved a lot your book section and bar table. Thanks for posting.

  2. The bookcase with the bright colors on it! My favorite part about that room is the blue lamp, such a great idea to paint it! For my living room to add a little color I got one of these home decor jars!

  3. I love the bookcase with the bright colors on it! My favorite part about that room is the blue lamp, such a great idea to paint it! For my living room to add a little color I got one of these home decor jars!

  4. Oh, whoops, and we also have a 10-month old, so wires sticking out are an issue! Thanks!

  5. Like your TV on the simple yellow piece of furniture. How has that worked with your young little one? I think this post was before Toby was born? We are trying to figure out how to hold our TV/media things without having to succumb to a traditional “media unit”. Thoughts?

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  8. Just wow, I love to make homes and I do that last 18years but I do not see or make that kind of beautiful home and do not think that kind of idea so I think you done a great work there and give me nice and attractive idea about home. my main focus on window tinting and I have a firm for that” we done great work.

  9. Anonymous says...

    Thanks for sharing, it’s always good to see new ways to tackle problem issues like the non working fireplace, & actual instances of items been revamped,artfully recycled & actually in use, not just done for a photo shoot. I would guess that there’s a chance the cabinet that serves as a base for your tv once had a life as a small chest of drawers, & now has the bottom 2 drawers remove to provide the open shelving style needed for your audio accompaniment (is that a word!?)If not that’s another way to get the same look :) Here in coastal CA we have many of the same issues in rentals as the NY area does(small spaces @ hi prices & limited changes allowed by renters) although finding something with as much character as your unit here, is far & few between outside of the San Fran area, so I really envy u that. However, I will have to concur w/a previous comment on the overhead light fixture. Although “vintage” in its own way it looks rather neglected up there. I have made some temp changes to light fixtures in our rental-I just boxed (& boldly labeled-heaven forbid that someone else might have the initiative to clean up some clutter & haul it off to goodwill!) the existing/provided fixture & stored it. With ur eclectic mix u could go w/ a range of styles/periods- possibly even a “mini” crystal chandalier with a light blue cord/chain cover-maybe even use a couple of those vintage crystal bead necklaces (they’re usually about 30″ or so long and the clear ones have a rainbow hue to the crystal beads, and spiral wrap them around the outside of the cord cover to add just a bit more sparkle from the great light coming in those admirable windows-I’ve seen those necklaces from time to time at auctions or shops that carry vintage costume jewelry (maybe they were from the 70-80’s-I can’t remember really when they were “in fashion” for the mature woman-usually they were in clear or black)-anyway that’s what popped into my head-not sure why…

    I can’t wait for another day to really tour everything on ur site, & maybe get some ideas I can implement. Since my husband’s recent stroke there is a real need for me to be around the house to assist him, but there is also a need to produce some supplemental income, so u have given me some food for thought & a research project for another day! Thanks again for all!
    “We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can only fly by embracing one another.” Luciano De Crescenzo

  10. What’s the color of the wall paint in your bedroom? I love it!

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  12. Such a memorable blog post! Thnkx for discussing this article…

  13. I can’t believe I’ve never seen these pictures of your home before! I love the little green notebook. She is an incredibly talented lady! Your home is proof :)

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  15. Odd Question: the potted plant on top of the bar cart, what is it?

    I am setting up a bar cart and its the perfect way to bring a living plant into the apartment.

  16. Oh la la, the home of my dreams! It’s fabulous and cozy all at the same time. I just love following your blog.

  17. where did you get the white chair from? is it ikea??

  18. Quite informative i must say and also it was presented very well.

  19. Posted your beautiful bedroom today :) always a favorite.

  20. The whole is gorgeous. I love the whole theme and the concept of the room. Perfectly done.

  21. This does not look like NY, it looks like it should be in England or somewhere in some village.
    I do want to change your ceiling fixture to something fun….?

  22. This is great way of telling the one hour tour, i liked what you have shown and written in photos in the current post.

  23. Love love love it! jenny strikes again, and it’s always fabulous. Jealous of your new campaign style desk. Fabulous all around!

  24. What a beautiful apartment Joanna!

    I love your ‘high-low’ mix of vintage, restored, cheap and designer pieces! Mad about your desk!!!

  25. Love Jenny’s work and love your apartment! Looks amazing! It seems great for a family and very functional. Perfect! :)

  26. Anonymous says...

    Love the apt. and agree with all the positive comments above! It looks so comfortable and “undecorated” yet totally pulled together — perfect. I too would LOVE to know the name of the PB rug if you happen to know it.
    Thanks! Diane

  27. Your home is beautiful. Thanks for letting us in!

  28. Anonymous says...

    We had that same Pottery Barn rug and it shed an INSANE amount, to the point where we had to ditch it. So sad because it was lovely to look at and cheap!

  29. I love your apartment! I have a friend that lives on Bleecker Street too!

  30. What a great space you have! And the little fellow’s room looks sweet, too. I love the splashes of color she added. Very nice.

  31. Just one more person complementing you on your impeccable taste. That fireplace = win.

  32. beautiful, joanna! it’s so warm and inviting!

    and, i have a dresser nearly identical to yours. i love it!

  33. would you know the names/numbers of the paints she used?
    i love them all!
    (and stink at choosing hues myself)

  34. Thanks for sharing your apartment with us! I am moving to Brooklyn in 3 weeks and there’s some great inspiration here.

  35. Loving seeing your apartment. Its strange how well us bloggers all think we know each other yet we’ve never stepped inside each others houses!!

  36. so so so lovely!
    thankyou for the beautiful photos.x

  37. looks so great!! i love the painted lamp.

  38. The apartment is lovely, and I just adore Toby’s nursery! Who knew Walmart had such a great selection of cribs?!

    The photography is beautiful and makes everything look so cozy yet sophisticated! Nice work ladies!

  39. GORGEOUS apartment. I’m drooling with jealousy! Question: where is your sofa from? We are moving soon and dreading couch shopping.

  40. Oh it’s lovely – really calm and cosy! I too love feus de bois – the scent reminds me of my grandfather’s studio. I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

  41. Rachel says...

    Oh Joanna!

    I completely loved the before but it’s looking really splendid now. It would appear to be the perfect reflection of your little families personalities, styles and tastes, which is obv why it works so well. Toby is one lucky little dude. Gutted i can’t be in on your live chat tonight. Sounds like such a jape. Oh, well, still beaming from my namedrop! Love to you all,

    English Rach


  42. The place looks fantastic Joanna!

    Jenny’s done a really fantastic job tying it all together, love the little blue accents throughout(!) and it still feels so personal and not too ‘decorated’.

    Would love to know also (if you happen to know) the name of the Pottery Barn rug in your living room.

  43. What a gorgeous place to call home! I hope you’re not renting and will have to give this gorgeous place up!

  44. I LOVE your taste. Jenny did such a great job.. I especially love the wood in the fireplace idea. Fun post!

  45. Wow! Your place does look so cozy and inviting! How do you find and decide on a designer! I secretly wish I was a designer but can’t pull it off for the life of me! :)

  46. sya says...

    oh joanna, i love your newly redecorated house. i absolutely love your desk, what a find! gorgeous and simply inspiring. thanks for posting this. can’t wait to see how toby’s nusery looks like next ;)