My friend Abbey Nova, of the blog Design Scouting, lives in a jawdroppingly beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side with her husband and three-year-old son. Their inspiring place looks straight out of a magazine. Want to take a peek?
Joanna: The photo ledge in your foyer is amazing. Who are the people in the photos?
Abbey: Me as a toddler; my parents in the 70s; the barn dance we held the night before our wedding. The portrait is of my great-grandmother Dorothy, who was a crackerjack, generous to a fault, and purportedly a psychic! I like to think she loves sitting up there and seeing her family hustle and bustle by.
Credit: Pendant lamp from West Elm.
I adore the “Food = Love” print. Can you tell us about that?
Food surely equaled love in my family growing up—we always ate dinner as a family, always, always. One day I just decided to go to Brooklyn and print this for my own family. While I was there I made a bunch, and now they’re for sale on Etsy.
Are the blue stripes made from duct tape?
Yes! I bought a huge canvas at Michael’s and made the stripes with white and blue duct tape. Originally it was hanging in the living room, but it was WAY too intense. We had a couple of dinner parties and I think our guests went home feeling dizzy.
The flowers in the sink are lovely.
Plants are a link to my Vermont upbringing. We were always barefoot and grubby growing up. As a kid, I was obsessed with the book The Language of Flowers. I just love tending to things; it gives me inordinate pleasure to keep green things alive in dark NYC apartments!
What will we always find in your fridge?
Cabot Cheddar, lots of mustard and Pimm’s with all the fixings. Tim comes home from work, and we make Pimm’s Cups! We also like gin & tonics, especially after we found the amazing and organic Farmer’s Botanical Gin.
The red framed drawings are too cute! When did Alex do them?
We’ve been hanging pictures for the past two years, and we’re still adding. It was important to me to hang his artwork in the kitchen and his bedroom, but keep the other spaces feeling more grown-up.
What do you guys like eating as a family?
We’re loving this fish dish right now, and Tim is cooking his way through Every Night Italian. Tim and Alex make smoothies in the morning, and Alex pretends to cook in his play kitchen while we’re make dinner.
This photo of a deer bed is beautiful.
Growing up in Vermont, I’d look out our kitchen window into a field, which had deer beds every morning. This is exactly what I saw when I woke up in the morning. This photo captures that from my childhood.
What are some of your favorite memories in this living room?
Bringing Alex home from the hospital; all of our Christmases; our Febgiving feast; writing my thesis.
Art seems like a really important part of your life. What are your favorite pieces?
I once met a furniture dealer in her seventies, who had a HUGE and gorgeous collection of paintings in her office—literally four or five deep, just leaned up against the walls, not even hung. When I asked her about them, she laughed and said she didn’t know anything about art, but she bought the pieces that she just had to give a home. I feel the same way about the art in my house. Most of it is vintage; about half of it comes from eBay.
What’s the story behind the photo-booth strips?
They’re from our wedding. I love seeing all those happy faces every day.
How did you figure out which colors and patterns to mix? That can be tricky.
We were lucky enough to work with interior decorator Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook, which was amazing. In particular she’s a genius with fabric. She chose the drapes in the living room and kitchen and thought up all the pillows in the house, including hot pink pillows in the bedroom, which I’d never have thought of.
Credits: Sofa from Room & Board; armchairs are vintage; deer bed photograph by Katherine Wolkoff; round wooden stools that Jenny Komenda found for us. Yellow-and-white striped rug is wall-to-wall carpeting remnant from ABC Home basement that we had bound.
Can you tell us about the wallpaper behind your bed?
It’s reproduction of a French Zuber wallpaper from the 1800s called the Bay of New York. As a decorative arts grad student, I had been researching Zuber wallpaper and came across a large digital file. I was able to blow it up and print it using Wizard Prints. You can print your own removable wallpaper with any big image—a family photo, a vacation snapshot…
Everyone has a theory about how to create a comfy bed. What’s yours?
Cotton sheets, lots of pillows and a good reading light! I’m a bookworm. The most luxurious thing to me is climbing into freshly laundered sheets; the thread count doesn’t matter as much.
Credits: Cotton sheets are from Room & Board; duvet cover is from Frette; nautical wall lamps are vintage (found by Jenny Komenda); bed is from Room & Board; tables are from West Elm; pink chair is from ABC Home; neon purse is from Cambridge Satchel Company.
What’s Alex really into playing with these days? (I’m guessing fire trucks?)
I love the age of three—imaginative play kicks into high gear. Alex is always making up stories and games. We build the Brooklyn Bridge out of blocks every morning.
What advice would you give to new parents about decorating a child’s room?
Get a comfy chair, a soft rug and floor pillows. I cannot believe how much time I spent on the floor in the first two years. And a radio so you can listen to NPR/news/music.
Credits: Blue-and-white rug from Ikea; teepee from Land of Nod; become-who-you-are print from Keep Calm Gallery; whale and animal tea towels from Enormous Champion; white bin shelves from Ikea; red-and-white chevron pillows from ABC Home; bed from Ikea; wooden airplane and globe are vintage; fire engine sheets (which I adore!!!) are from the brand Hillcrest. I bought them at TJMAXX but you can buy them online, too.
What do you want your home to feel like overall?
The best compliment is when people come over and don’t want to leave. I also want my husband and son to be comfortable—it’s not just my house, it’s our house. Tim is over six feet tall, so I want the couch to be big enough, the chairs a good height, the bed to be right. Then for Alex, I want it to be safe for him to play in every room; I had a babyproofer come and mount everything so that we weren’t always having to say “no.”
What will you miss when you move?
Our neighbors. We have the world’s slowest elevator, so we chat a lot with them! There’s a woman on the third floor who pinches Alex’s cheek, and the woman who lives above us teaches voice lessons, so we can always hear people singing.
Such a gorgeous place! Thank you so much, Abbey! Don’t you want to move right in? :)
P.S. Our friends Matt and Megan’s NYC house tour.