Man Repeller editor and cheese enthusiast Haley Nahman shares a one-bedroom apartment with her cat, Bug. “People are constantly like, WHERE’S THIS COOL SHELF FROM, and I’m like, it’s literally Ikea,” she says. “The trick is just making it fit in with the rest of your stuff.” Here, she takes us on a tour…
On debating moving in with a boyfriend vs. living solo: My boyfriend’s lease was up around the same time as mine, so the idea of moving in together came up very organically. Debating whether to do it felt like one of those memorable fork-splitting moments. On the one hand, I’d long dreamt of living alone and now finally I had the chance; on the other, the cohabitation path offered more excitement and financial appeal. I went back and forth a lot — I was so drawn to the romantic choice! — but when I listened closely, I could hear a more honest internal whisper, begging me to honor my newfound independence. And, after learning one too many times what it feels like to ignore that whisper, I decided to listen.
On moving in: The decision felt anticlimactic at first, but once I got the keys to my new place and lay on the empty hardwood floor, I wanted to scream with joy, and maybe did.
On a velvet sofa: I spend most of my time on the couch when I’m home, and it’s so comfortable I whine to nobody for three minutes whenever my life or job demands I leave it. I love sectionals so much I will squeeze one into even the smallest of spaces!
On hanging bags on the wall: When I first moved in, I had tons of wall space, a bunch of bags, and very little art. I told myself it was a placeholder, but of course it wasn’t. (I’ve moved about 10 times in the last ten years and can confirm: It’s never a placeholder.) But so far I haven’t minded. I love how they give my walls dimension and that I can change them out easily.
On fairy lights: I feel so cheesy for having string lights! But I keep buying them from Amazon anyway. I’m an ambiance junky — I will literally cook in the dark just to preserve a vibe — and nothing beats the warm, diffused glow of patio lights. I put them up everywhere and avoid turning on overhead lights at all costs.
On trusting your gut: I didn’t decorate intentionally with this apartment. In past homes, I found interiors I loved online and copied color palettes — this time, I didn’t look for that stuff. I wanted my decisions to be informed only by what felt right in the moment. So, this apartment has a much less distinct interior design point of view, but the hodgepodge feels true to me.
Desk: Floyd. Chair: vintage.
On home scents: My favorite candle is Tree House by Byredo, which I got as a housewarming gift from my best-smelling-friend Steph. It’s pretty much gone, so I need a new cozy house scent! Taking recs.
On the poofiest companion: I got Bug almost four years ago with an ex-boyfriend when I lived in San Francisco. One move to New York and a sad breakup later, it was just the two of us. Fortunately, taking a cat on a cross-country airplane was a breeze in that it was not at all. But we made it! I tell him he’s my favorite cat every time I leave the house even though he’s never said the same to me. That’s love.
On hosting friends: Whenever I have people over, I always assume we’ll watch something, but then I get overzealous with snacks and drinks and we end up just talking instead, which is probably more restorative anyway. I love crackers and cheese. (Have you heard of crackers and cheese?!!) I’m also a kettle corn freak, and I like to get Tate’s cookies.
On a friendly neighborhood: I live in Bed-Stuy, an old New York neighborhood filled with tree-lined streets and families that have lived here for generations. I’ve found everyone to be so inviting and communal, and I do my best to respect what was here before me. It’s far from my office, with a 45-minute commute that regularly makes me stress-sweat, but I wouldn’t choose differently.
On the apartment’s quirks: The comically awkward position of my kitchen sink; the way all of the doors swing shut or open (whichever is the opposite of what you want); how the seal of my windows don’t quite work such that I can hear, at full volume, any conversation going on outside. But honestly, I can’t complain.
On neatness: People are always asking me about how I keep the shelves so neat! The truth is they go in and out of tidiness, but I’ve found that having them central to the room motivates me to not let them get out of hand. Clothes appear to multiply when not squished in a drawer. My carpenter friend Danny built the shoe shelves by my bed. They make me feel less like I’m sleeping in a closet.
Swimsuit art: Permanent Press Editions.
On a bedtime routine: Shower, five-step skincare routine, brush, floss, mouthwash, bed, book or ASMR video, sleep.
On a good book: I recently loved the novel How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti. Lots of highlighting.
On self-discovery: This has been a great opportunity to learn more about myself. If you’re the type of person who has molded your personality around how the world reacts and responds to you, living alone gives you the opportunity to exist in a vacuum. I eat weird snack combinations and talk to my cat about how our days went and what it’s like to never get to go outside. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person. If you have the opportunity, it’s worth exploring.
Thank you so much, Haley!
(Photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo.)