Design

This 450-Square-Foot East Village Apartment Has an Inspiring Gallery Wall

For the past eight years, Alex Yeske has lived with her husband, Grant, in a 450-square-foot apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. They’re moving to L.A., but will miss their small space and its quirks. “The floors are so slanty, you could roll a marble down them,” Alex says. “But we love it here.” Here’s a look around…

LIVING/KITCHEN AREA

Bar cart: Crate & Barrel. Mirror: Renwil. TV console: CB2. Coat rack: One Kings Lane. Botanical print: Liz Libré. New York poster: similar. Striped shirt artwork: Chance x Mary Matson. Other art: mostly vintage.

On creating a gallery wall: We collected these pieces over time, and then lay them down on the floor to arrange them before hanging them up. For art, I often look on auction sites. My favorites are LiveAuctioneers and Everything But the House (online estate sales), and I like digging through Etsy.

On a special heirloom: The rolling pin on the TV console belonged to my maternal great grandparents. They brought it through Ellis Island when they moved here from Czechoslovakia. They moved continents with their rolling pins! We keep it as decor now, but it’s so well made, I’m sure we could use it.

On a plant habit: I’ve gotten really into plants during quarantine. Every week, I buy fresh flowers from the farmer’s market and arrange them — it’s so therapeutic. I’m also now addicted to watching Monty Don, the British gardener. His show is so soothing, he’s so calm.

Large candle holder: Target. Small candle holder: Target.

On small-space entertaining: We like having friends over — usually just two or three people. We love Jon and Vinny’s spicy fusilli, and we light candles. We also like hosting an annual Hanukkah gathering with six adults and three children; we all just cram in.

Sofa: Crate & Barrel, similar. Plain pillows: Parachute Home. Gingham pillows: Zara Home. Rug: Nordic Knots.

On complementary colors: We landed on a neutral palette two years ago and stuck with that. Living in such a small space, I think it’s nice to have the same colors throughout, so it doesn’t feel jarring going into different rooms. It’s how we dress, too! Even my husband has morphed into a neutrals kind of guy!

Dish towels: IKEA.

On budget finds: These are my favorite $1 dishtowels from IKEA. They look really sweet and last forever.

BEDROOM

Storage bed and headboard: Pottery Barn. Bedding: Parachute. Bedside tables: IKEA Hemnes.

On a meet-cute: We met during our freshman year at Syracuse. We lived on the same dorm floor, three doors down from each other. We immediately thought the other person was cute. We started dating a month into school, and now we’ve been together almost 13 years. Funny story: Facebook was just starting and so we saw each other’s photos before we moved in, and I remember telling my best friend, this cute boy from California is going to be on my floor. Everything worked out!

On framing finds: We once stayed in France at a very old hotel. Their receipts were printed on amazing paper. We saved them and now we’re going to frame them. I also took a few pens from New York restaurants we love and I’ll frame them in a deeper frame, almost like a shadowbox.

On tips for small spaces: Take your time with decorating — you want to see how you live within the space and get pieces that function well, like this storage bed. When decorating as a couple, I also think it’s good to be able to say what you like and don’t like. Be overly communicative.

On relaxing artwork: This print of California is by Max Wanger. We can lie in bed and have an ocean view.

BATHROOM

On a signature scent: We display potpourri from Santa Maria Novella — it makes the whole bathroom smell so good. We actually have it throughout the house. It smells so good and isn’t overpowering.

On DIY art: We needed a little piece of art here, so I just put little dots on paper using the back end of a paintbrush. It’s in a vintage frame, which elevates it.

On beloved New York spots: When we move, I’ll miss the John Derian store, which is right across the street. Once we spotted a laundry bag with John’s name on it at our neighborhood laundromat and I was starstruck. We also lived near this great Mexican spot called Rosie’s — I always order the chicken enchiladas, and their watermelon margaritas are amazing.

Thank you so much, Alex!

P.S. More home tours, including a colorful family house in North Carolina and a city apartment with a cabin vibe.

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  1. Raquel Running says...

    obsessed with this space! I’ve followed Alex on instagram for years and have also read cup of jo so was very excited!

    Question- where is the gorgeous amber glass pitcher from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      It’s from an auction, it was an Elsa peretti x Tiffany collaboration. Xo

    • Hi Raquel! I found it at an antique store in the Hamptons – sorry I can’t be more helpful. If you search for amber glassware on Etsy, Chairish or LiveAuctioneers, I’m sure you’ll come across something similar!

  2. Donna S says...

    You did such a great job decorating your home! Everything goes so well together.

    • Thank you so much Donna!

  3. EMMA says...

    Another inquiry about a specific item (so sorry if I missed if it was said!) I’m looking for a table lamp and absolutely love yours from the first photo on the cart! Where is that from?

    • Hi Emma! It is a vintage mid-century lamp that belonged to my grandmother. If you search for Gorden & Jane Martz, you’ll find similar ones!

  4. Nicole A. says...

    In regards to the polka dot frame, I also like to switch things up from the typical photographs and most of my frames have letters, postcards, poems, cards, etc. in them instead. I once framed a bookmark, even!

  5. Ashley B. says...

    What a beautiful space, I especially love the idea of framing those unique receipts from France – how cool! I also loved the curvaceous mirror I by tv, where is it from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      It was vintage! Xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oops, scratch that! I thought it was vintage but it’s actually from amazon: https://amzn.to/2DW7zpk

  6. Yvonne S says...

    Lovely! How about having a week of outfits and beauy products featuring Alex? Thank you for sharing!

  7. Sylvie says...

    Love it all!

  8. laura says...

    looks like a well-used, lovely space! and I love Jon & Vinny’s :) just real quick and I’m sorry if this is annoying, but I believe there is a typo in Jon & Vinny’s!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much!

  9. Amber Leigh says...

    I feel slightly silly asking this question but any tips on how to keep white towels looking so fluffy and white?! The towels in their bathroom look perfect!

    • the towels are from Weezie and they are seriously the fluffiest towels! they remain so nice even after tons of washing :)

    • Erin says...

      I’ve found that adding borax to the wash really helps to whiten towels and sheets.

  10. Cynthia says...

    Lovely place! Was wondering about those cool brass candle holders on the TV console… :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      they’re from dwell studio back in the day!

  11. Emily says...

    HI Alex!! Your home is lovely. May I ask where you found your front door matt? I’ve been searching for a nice neutral one like yours as my front door steps directly into my living room. Thanks again for the glimpse into your space!

  12. Shashi Anand says...

    such a lovely space. can you tell me where you got the terracotta jug from that’s on the night stand?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I know the answer to this one! it’s a elsa peretti x Tiffany terracotta jug, and she got it at an auction. hope this helps!

  13. jane says...

    You’ve mastered tiny house living, that’s for sure. Shipshape! The natural neutrals look is so soothing and unifying – I love it. Very hygge : )

    Also your Monty Don rec has put me on a new binge, I was up til midnight watching and feeling soothed to high heaven, lol. Thank you.

    • Thank you!! So happy to have introduced you to Monty!! He’s the best :)

  14. mollcoll says...

    I love this tour; very soothing for a small space…and it is in my old neighborhood. You will miss the East Village, but LA will be a new adventure!

  15. Lauren E. says...

    What a beautiful and serene space! And what they’ve done with such limited room is really inspiring. Off to scour for vintage frames… :)

  16. Rachel Braude says...

    Lovely. Is there a source on the coffee table?

  17. Alison says...

    If anyone is looking for the ‘invincible summer’ print (I have the same one on my gallery wall!) it’s from Chelsea Petaja – https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChelseaPetaja

    That specific one is no longer available – was a limited release a longgggg time ago – but I wanted to highlight her other work because it’s beautiful. I also have the Ernest Hemingway 8×10 “loved each other” print in my bedroom. She has a bunch of abstract art in addition to lettering as well.

    • celeste says...

      Thank you! I was :)

  18. CS says...

    Such a soothing space! Thanks for sharing a view into you beautiful home. Best wishes!

  19. Amanda W. says...

    I second the Monty Don love. He’s just wonderful and I might have a little crush …

    • Jennifer Wilson says...

      Little crush? I have massive crush. And named my cat after him, ha. I love Gardener’s World.

  20. Molly Shea says...

    Thank you for this glimpse into your small space. I loved the art, and the tiny dots on the white page. Good luck with your move to LA.

  21. Oh that kitchen! It looks EXACTLY like the kitchen in the NYC apartment I shared with my now husband 15 years ago. We loved that apartment. Thank you for reminding of this lovely memory and good luck on your move!!!

  22. I LOVE this apartment! It’s got such gorgeous light, and I love all the neutrals- it looks so soothing? I also adore the story of them meeting, and the fact that they love Monty Don… Alex and Grant, can we be friends!?

    • aw thank you so much, Alice!!

  23. Lynn says...

    I’m fascinated by the ornate rolling pin. Does the family know what Czechoslovakian delicacies were created with those shapes?

    • not 100% sure but I think raviolis or other dough-like pastas :)

  24. Mel says...

    I dunno, they seem like pretty regular folk to me! I really liked their profile because a lot of what they’ve done seems really accessible to someone like me who decorates on a budget. I’m sure being an art director means that she has an eye for what “goes together” but isn’t aesthetics just in the eye of the beholder anyway?

  25. Sarah says...

    I’d love to know where the coffee table came from. Love the whole vibe – that table is a standout!

    • Barbara says...

      I was wondering the same thing! I’m on the lookout for a very narrow coffee table and this one seems to fit the bill while also being quite beautiful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask!

  26. Eve says...

    I adore so much here, but seeing the same exact rental kitchen cabinets that I have takes the cake. And an unsolicited tip for anyone wanting a gallery wall – just hang stuff up as you collect it and keep things equidistantly spaced. Let it grow organically. It always looks intentional to everyone but you.
    PS – fellow SU alum here and definitely DID NOT have your luck in my dorm

  27. Amber says...

    Great post – love their style! Do you know what candles are featured? Love all of the links too – will check out the recipe as well as the potpourri!

  28. Absolutely a favorite of all tours. Love their style & vibe.

    • Thank you! :)

  29. Eliza says...

    We share a meet-cute! My husband and I lived on the same dorm floor our freshman year at Syracuse, two rooms apart, and started dating within a month. This was pre-Facebook: my mom spotted him first, pointed him out, and told me that the cute boy in red pants on my floor was going to be the one. It’s been about 18 years for us.

    • Aw I love this!! What dorm were you in? We were in Marion!

    • Jules says...

      OMG your mom knew. That is so sweet!

    • Eliza says...

      We were in Shaw. (And Julie: my mom is very proud of her intuition!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so cute about your mom!

  30. Karen says...

    Those $1 ikea towels are my favorite for puppy paws and spot cleaning. They wash really well!

    • They’re our favorite kitchen towels by far!

  31. Nicole says...

    Such a charming space! I’d love to know where their storage rack over the toilet is from, I’ve been looking for one like that…

    • Hi! It is from Bed Bath & Beyond, but we got it when we moved in 8 years ago!

    • Elly says...

      I have the same one and I got it at Target 4 years ago.

  32. K says...

    Beautiful home and beautiful couple. I wish them all the best in California. I noticed Alex is an art director, I so wish you would feature more people who are not pros so as to get a glimpse of a home by ‘regulat’ folk.

    • Melissa says...

      Second this! I was thinking the exact same thing. Cashier, dentist, secretary, lawyer, literally anyone else.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re on it! thank you! xoxo

  33. Regina says...

    lovely space — and so fun to be neighbors with the Derian store!

    on another note: I’d love to see you interview the photographer Jamie Beck. Her quarantine photo series was so enchanting!

    • Jeanne says...

      I love Jamie Beck’s work. Her series kept me sane during the early days of covid isolation! She’s actually done some photography for CoJ. Search under her name and under Ann Street Studio. Have you seen her blog? It’s fun to see her in her single days when she only wore NYC black.

  34. A says...

    Love this! I’m pining over the dining table in the corner – any hints on sources?

    • Hi! It is an old entry table from Dwell Studio that we put a glass topper on :)

  35. Steph says...

    I PROMISE you will find a new favorite Mexican spot in LA :) There are SO many good ones in literally every neighborhood – and don’t skip the taco trucks!

    • Can’t wait to explore!!

  36. Claire says...

    Beautiful apartment, but what stood out to me was the story of how Alex and Grant met! So cute that they liked each other from the very beginning, and they look so happy together. I like all the framed personal photos, too. :)

    • Aw thank you so much Claire :)

  37. outfits *and* a home tour in one day?! what a treat! :)

  38. liz says...

    love this one! the neutral palette is so calming. cup of jo, you’re killing it today! How do you guys all have such cool friends?

  39. Jay says...

    What a lovely home!

  40. A lovely cohesive space! Very soothing. I love the black dining chairs. Anyone know the source?

    • Hi! They are from Design Within Reach — called the Salt Chair :)

    • Megan says...

      Thank you! Best of luck with your move.

  41. Milou says...

    This is such a cute, stylish apartment! As a fellow East Villager (E. 3rd St), I too am a John Derian fan. Even walking by the stores always makes me feel happy and inspired. Such a great block!

    Best of luck to you in LA!

    • We will miss living on such a quaint block! Thank you so much :)