When writer Harling Ross and her fiancé Austin first saw this Manhattan apartment listing, they immediately wrote a love letter to the owner. “I remember describing us,” she says. “It was the most boring description ever: we are very clean and do not make noise and don’t have pets.” That letter worked, and now here’s a peek inside their lovely place…
On a mini gallery: These built-in shelves were in the apartment when we moved in, and we wanted to do something fun. So, we printed black and white photographs — some of them are professional photographers’ photographs and some are personal to us.
Blue vase: Muuto.
On favorite pieces: I took a few things from my late grandmother’s apartment — with her blessing — like this green waterfall coffee table. She had really cool taste. My mom wants to claim the coffee table so it’s on temporary loan. Also, our couch isn’t vintage but I love the color. It’s allergy season green!
On an A/C hunt: The apartment’s windows are big and beautiful, so when we put in the A/C, it was such a bummer. It blocked so much of the view. I put up an Instagram story, like, Why don’t chic A/Cs exist? It’s a million dollar idea! A year later, I found out about this company called July, which makes A/Cs less of an eyesore. They even come with interchangeable covers.
On thrifting tips: My favorite places to find vintage furniture aren’t radical but are truly the best: Chairish, Etsy, eBay and 1stDibs; and I love Instagram accounts like Claude Home and Abigail Bell Vintage. I often search for certain designers, like ‘Bitossi’ or ‘Eames’ or ‘Vladamir Kagan.’ Their pieces can be really expensive but when you type in the names, it will bring up stuff that’s similar, so you can find things within a better price range. Also, know that you can negotiate price. I’ll often get a 10% to 15% discount. They often bake into the price the fact that the customer will negotiate.
Bouclé chair: Total Design.
On quarantine shows: All our friends were raving about Money Heist and I thought it would be a gritty drama, but it’s very soapy in an entertaining way. We also started Mindhunter, which is creepy. Back at the very beginning of quarantine, we rewatched all of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. That’s my marker of time — the fact that we were able to finish all of those means we’ve been in this for a really long time.
On entertaining friends: We had a big housewarming party a year ago. It was such a different time! It was the best kind of night — we sent a Paperless Post inviting friends to come over from 6 to 8 p.m. Of course everyone stayed until 3 a.m. and people were flopping onto the bed. I have the best memories from that night.
On party plans: This table folds out, and in my fantasies I think about having dinner parties. Our favorite Italian restaurant is Frankies Spuntino. We love their cavatelli with sausage and sage, so my plan is to make that.
On an apartment soundtrack: Austin loves music so he’ll choose the playlist, and I’ll make requests. He loves slow melancholy indie music and sometimes I’ll want a beat. I love Vampire Weekend and Patti Smith and Dolly Parton. And we just watched Walk the Line, so we’ve been obsessively listening to Johnny Cash.
Wallpaper: Rebecca Atwood.
On go-to dinners: We’ve been cooking more this year, but we also like ordering takeout from Nami Nori (Japanese), Lovely Day (Thai) and l’Artusi (Italian). And we do a lot of Emily Pizza.
On a personal bedspread: Happy Menocal designed the monogram for our wedding invitation. Then my mom surprised us with this bedspread as an engagement gift. It was really thoughtful. It was from an old-fashioned bedding store — the guy was like, it’s very improper not to use her married initials, but since I’m not changing my name, using our first initials (H and A) was the only way to have us both represented.
On a special headboard: The headboard behind our bed is an antique room divider. It was SO heavy and hard to get in here, and we bolted it to the wall. I love how it looks, especially when the morning light reflects on it.
On a meet-cute: Austin and I first met in fifth grade and started dating in ninth grade, broke up for college, got back together right after college — and we’ve been dating ever since. Our families are really close, and we go on joint family vacations. We all do Christmases together. It’s so wild to me. There has been so much drama and so many ups and downs — there were times I liked him more, times he liked me more, and to net out in the middle is truly miraculous. The me that I am now is so different than the me when I was 11, and there were multiple mes in between, so it feels like a very three-dimensional knowledge when you’ve known someone this long.
On decorating compromises: Austin saved all his books from childhood. He had this intense organization system as a kid, where he’d do it by author. I prefer organizing them by color, which people make fun of, but it brings me joy. It was nice of him to let me do that here.
On a curly hair routine: My hair is fusilli pasta. It turned curly when I was 13 and I had no idea how to do it. Back then, the internet didn’t really exist, so I couldn’t look up hair advice. After I graduated from college, I finally learned how to take care of it by watching Instagram tutorials. Now I wash with Low-Poo shampoo and conditioner. I use IGK Mistress Hair Balm and Davines This Is a Curl Building Serum when I get out of the shower and my hair is still wet. Then I do this thing called ‘plopping,’ where you wrap you hair on top of your head with a T-shirt. Then I let it air dry the rest of the way. I sleep on a silk pilllowcase, which helps my hair not get frizzy or tangled overnight. (When I don’t sleep on one, I’ll wake up with knots in my hair!) This is the most basic routine I could come up with that would get me results I am happy with. It’s really fulfilling to like something that you hated for a long time.
On bathroom wallpaper: The kitchen and bathroom wallpapers were both here when we moved in. I was like, should I re-wallpaper? It felt intimate to have someone else’s. But a) I got lazy and b) I started to like them. At first, this micro floral wallpaper felt granny-ish and old-fashioned, but now I’m into it. It goes with the old apartment and the old building. And a lot of our pieces are really modern, so it’s a nice contrast.
Thank you so much, Harling!
P.S. Many more house tours, if you’d like to see. Craving color? Here’s a Seattle home and a Brooklyn brownstone. Love the outdoors? Check out this Sonoma house, a New Hampshire cottage and a spot in the Japanese countryside. Want tips for small living? Here’s a Toronto loft packed with clever storage solutions and a 175-square-foot Brooklyn apartment.