Upper West Side House Tour

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?(!–more–>

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.

(Styling by Kendra Smoot; photos by Seth Smoot for A Cup of Jo.)

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  2. The plastic sleeves that the photo booth photos are hanging in…must know – where are they from???
    Lovely home with such stylish touches!

  3. It’s alright. No real wow factor. Good use of space. I did like the idea of duct tape for an accent wall .

  4. This is a good post and you have decorated your home wisely. The interior at your home decides the way you live and if used properly can make a lot of space for kids. Thanks for sharing this on your blog.

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  5. That was looking nice and well managed home with furniture, posters and all other things. As a window tinting Alexandria I always see the home window and mirror door and all their windows looking nice and clean. I request all of you whose build our house place don’t ignore the window mirror setting it is a real big thing for a nice looking home.

  6. Beautiful apartment, beautiful imagery, and some wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Yay! Abbey! I had the pleasure of meeting Abbey, Tim and Alex at Febgiving in Minnesota this year… and somehow I figured out that she was your friend and it all just came together. What an absolutely lovely family they are, and such a jaw dropping apartment. I wish she lived here to help my space work better for us!… and so our boys would have a built in playmate,;Alex is such a ham!

  8. hello! i am your newest follower, my friend sent me your link as i’m about to move to nyc. love your page, can’t wait to see more from you!! xo


  9. AMAZING Interview!!! I was totally inspired by each space in the apartment.

    …and I totally agree that floor pillows are essential for a toddler/baby room :)

  10. WOW-this freaked me out, it looks identical to the APT I grew up in on the UPPER WEST SIDE, but…I can tell its not the same building by the facade on the front, but wow. It honestly made me so nostalgic and homesick for it. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I love Abbey, Tim and Alex and their place!!!!!!!

  12. Okay, can we all just take a moment to talk about the pink sofa chair? I need that in my life right now!

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE this whole house, but especially that toy with wheels in front of the pic of the deer bed. anyone know where it’s from?? thanks!

  14. I like this colorful house!!!
    Regards, Joanna

  15. There has never been a time I’ve visited Abbey’s home when I haven’t found myself, jaw dropped, asking “where did you find that?” and saying “sooo beautiful” over and over. It’s awesome to see her here!

  16. Beautiful home! Full of life and colors! I love the interview too :)


  17. Thank you, @Joanna! I second whoever said “More of these please.”

  18. This is sooo inspirational! Also, yes food does equal love.

  19. Awesome post!

  20. Lovely! But how, oh how, do you keep your little ones room so tidy and plastic free? Please admit that you have a giant tub of toy pits and pieces tucked in a closet!

  21. p.s I also love the idea of seeing fabulous homes from women on a budget!

  22. Oh this is SO lovely and bright. Nothing like a lady with a baby who knows how to use colour in her home.

    xo me

  23. Joanna,

    It’d be really cool if you did this type of thing with women who are on a strict budget. I’m sure your readers are dreamers and women with goals (I’m one of them) but most of us get inspired by your shopping lists, career profiles, design tours but we just don’t have the money to execute.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I love this! I would love to see more apartment interiors. I’m inspired to do more with my tiny space! :) Thanks for sharing!

  26. Abbey Nova? Coolest name ever!

  27. Yes, please make this a regular feature!

  28. WOW!!! What a crazy awesome place! I’m amazed!

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  30. What a beautiful home, and it just shines with style and personality.
    I love white walls best, and these really showcase all of Abby’s and her family’s lovely things.
    Yes, I wish I lived there!!

  31. perfect post :)

  32. Her home is beautiful. But I love the most that she mentioned Cabot cheddar cheese. Its my weakness. I may swing by costco on my way home and get a block. And Abby and her boy are just the cutest!

  33. you are invited to follow my blog

  34. I’ve been looking for those red job chart cases (holding the photo booth pictures) for years.. can you PLEASE tell me where you found them? I would be SO grateful!

  35. So many thing to love here – truly. However, mostly, it makes me want to move to NYC. The fact that you can have that kind of home in the middle of that amazing city is very inspirational.

  36. I love how much this home really reflects the family–from memories to lifestyle to function. That’s what creating a home is really about. Thanks for sharing!

  37. This home is absolutely gorgeous! I love it…all the colors and patterns work together to make something both eclectic and homey. Love.

  38. Megan — it’s by Michael Abrams xoxo

  39. I love all the bright colours! The frames around her son’s drawings and the blue and white striped canvas. It’s all so simple and lovely. :)

  40. I love all the bright colours! The frames around her son’s drawings and the blue and white striped canvas. It’s all so simple and lovely. :)

  41. Parent Chic!

  42. What a peaceful looking, cheerful home and ADORABLE baby!

  43. What a beautiful tour, it’s a gift to have that much style and also be so inviting. Thanks for sharing!

  44. I love these types of posts! What a gorgeous flat! We have that wooden bed in our guest room and that white 8 squared shelf from IKEA. Quite nice, I love how airy their whole place is. I love that she recommends a radio in a kids room for NPR and music! xx

  45. what a lovely space! i love her natural light and whimsical splashes of patterns and color. it’s really fun to see other people’s apartments, especially in nyc.

  46. What a great, comfortable, lived in feeling home! I love her advice about decorating a kids room- things I hadn’t heard before but make so much sense! Thanks for sharing.

  47. What a lovely home! Love the teepee in the bedroom – I may copy this for my boys room x

  48. So beautiful! I love the bright pink pillows and the wallpaper in the bedroom. Seriously thinking of copying this.

  49. This home is so lovely and refreshingly lived-in looking! Sometimes house tours on interior design websites tend to look a little too much like movie sets with meaningless props. Abbey, you have wonderful taste.

  50. Love how this space is a home! Love when you do these! Maybe you should make it a regular ;)

  51. Do more of these please!

  52. Oh what a beautiful home!! So spacious and pretty. I love the photo ledge :)

  53. @lindsay, i agree, it’s soooo sweet. @megan, i’ll ask abbey!

  54. I thought your questions brought out some great answers – drawing out all sorts of stories. What a great double act you two make!

    Abby ha such a beautiful home. Lived in + loved. And what a great eclectic art collection!

    Some great inspiration. Thanks to you both.

    x Elena
    Randomly Happy

  55. pretty pretty pretty! love it! hi, abbey! xo

  56. I love the framed piece in the photo booth strips photo. Do you have a source for it?

  57. Oh I love Abby! And her apartment is amazing. Not that I’m surprised in the least.

  58. What an incredible home!! Great inspiration for my own decorating.

  59. Great post, always inspiring and interesting to see how people live, and this was such a fun and personal home.

  60. What a beautiful home! So fun! I love how she separated kid space – and adult space. Thanks for sharing!

  61. Yes! Want to move right into this gorgeous lovely space.

    Ps. LOVE the poster in Alex’s room “Become Who You Are” & the red framed kids art, sooo awesome. Gotta do that with my every growing pile of art from my 3 year old.

    Lindsay @ Darling Clementine

  62. They have so much space! I was in ABC Home last week and spotted more than a few rugs in the $20K price range. Jenny Komenda is one busy designer!