As with clothes, the way you decorate a room expresses your personality. In its most ideal form, it signals to guests how you interpret yourself. In this round of Real Cool People, Real Cool Apartments, we check out the West Village home of Sarah Maslin Nir, a staff reporter for the New York Times. Our intentions behind the creeping: to learn what she’s all about.
Sarah Maslin Nir
# of rooms:
Zero! Ah, New York City, forcing people to believe it is acceptable to pay tons to live in one box like a hamster. A glamorous hamster.
What do you do?
I’m a staff reporter for the New York Times.
How long have you lived here?
In New York City? 32 of my 34 years. In my glam hamster terrarium? (Glamster! Can we make that a thing?!) Three years.
Who do you live with, animals included?
Artax, a flame point Siamese from the city pound.
What do you like about the neighborhood?
It’s of a smaller, more human scale than the rest of the city. The trees align with the rooftops; they aren’t perpetually in skyscraper shadow. You can breathe. I like it so much I forfeited having an actual bedroom to afford to be here.
What about this home?
I’ve made it singular. It’s easy to give up on a studio, to make it a giant closet where you simply stop in between work and play to get changed. I insisted it be a home.
What’s the worst thing about the home?
It’s one room! Oh what I wouldn’t do for a door!
What’s the best?
MY AMAZING WINDOW WALL. Ehem. I invented it myself, and made it myself (with significant help from my building’s brawny super.) The windows are from a construction site, attached by chain link. I was inspired by my (name drop!) friends who are in the band MGMT; they had a wall of empty picture frames of different shapes and sizes in a loft we used to hang out in. When I moved into my studio I desperately wanted a wall, but feared even more hamsterification by making it small and dark. Voila! A useless but gorgeous window wall!
Do you ever work from home?
I work from home often to get deep in a writing groove. I write either in my leather butterfly chair or at my kitchen/dinning room/desk table made of reclaimed tree that fell in a storm in Central Park. But the only important part about my workspace is that there is a way for Artax to climb up on me to sprawl atop my keyboard, impeding all writing. (He made me write that part.)
What did you think about when decorating?
The apartment has gone through several phases, like a butterfly. My original inspiration was Jonathan Adler’s concept of “Happy Chic,” wherein staring at bright colors and funky objects is supposed to bring joy. It does, and to that end I went heavy on the whimsy, with a faux-polar bear rug that has the head of a stuffed bear attached, a Sunkist-orange rocking chair and sea-foam blue rug and drapes. But staring at all that color all the time is sort of exhausting. This year the butterfly molted to a vibe I (pretentiously) call “serene glamour”: gold, taupe, leather, sheepskin, mid-century flairs in a hue that doesn’t make you want to gouge out your eyes.
What are your favorite home “scores”?
Gasp! My moss-green loveseat is a vintage Adrian Pearsall piece from the 1950s. Pearsall is considered the father of Mid-Century modernism and on sites like 1stDibs, similar pieces can be around $10,000. I got mine on a site that’s kind of like Craigslist for design called Krrb.com. It belonged to a lovely couple who had moved here from the Midwest only to discover their Brooklyn apartment was too small for it. They delivered it to me in their pick-up truck for a grand total of $500. I luv them.
Tell a story about one thing in your home.
I’m particularly proud of my tree stump. West Elm sells stump side tables for upwards of $200. I went to a farm in New Jersey, found one in the woods, left it in the sun for a few days so all the bugs could humanely find themselves new homes, shellacked it and plunked it in my apartment under a string-of-pearls succulent.
What about this home makes you feel like it’s a getaway?
Lying in bed on Sunday mornings, the light streaming through mottled panes of glass in my hanging wall of windows, dappling Artax’s fur beside me, I feel like one very lucky glamster.
For someone young and trying to nest, what are your top three tips?
Don’t spend money on anything! Do it yourself! Find it cheaper! Do it better!
What about advice for a total amateur trying to put her apartment together. Any words of wisdom?
Make your bed. Especially in a studio, a disheveled bed visually erases all your hard work.
What does your dream room look like?
Exactly like my home. BUT THERE ARE MORE ROOMS.
What’s the one thing every home should have?
A piece of real art. I was a fan of the wheatpaste feminist art posters of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a supremely talented artist who runs a campaign called “Stop Telling Women to Smile” featuring images of women and what they would like to say back to the men who harass them (us) on the street. I got in touch with Tatyana and ended up visiting her studio and purchasing one of her oil paintings from a series called “Get Angry,” where she painted, in gold, rioters from eruptions around the world in 2011. Buying it felt like an investment in this important young artist.