Home & Design

Turquoise Walls and Snake Rugs: The Royal Tenenbaum of Apartment Tours

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 Upper East Side home of Half-Mad founder Naomi Kahn. Our intentions behind the creeping: to learn what she’s all about

Neighborhood, # of rooms:

Upper East Side, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms

How long have you lived here?

I’ve lived here for about three years.

What do you like about the neighborhood?

The exquisite brownstone-lined streets are my favorite part of the neighborhood. I love peeking into the homes to check out the decor of my fellow neighbors. I find that the residents of the UES tend to mix antique furniture and decor with modern flamboyant colors and fabrics. This vibrant mix of old and new world is what inspired the decor of my apartment.

Who do you live with (animals included)?

I live with my husband, Alec, and our two French bulldogs, Henry and Oscar.

What did you think about when decorating? 

I did not have a clear vision when I first began decorating, and my apartment is still evolving — unfortunately for my husband. I never went into decorating with any type of plan. I trust my instincts and incorporate the pieces that come my way and spark my fancy. I think fixating on composition and colorways adds more stress than is necessary, and decorating should be fun. Your home is a depiction of your personality and interests, so do what you feel; just as you grow as a person, so can your home.

What do you do for work?

I founded Half-Mad, an online store created to inspire people to embrace flamboyant fashions.

If we were a fly on the wall of your home for a weekend, what would we typically see?

You would see Oscar and Henry playing (with the occasional fight breaking out if one chews on the other’s bone). You would also see my husband and me playing intense games of Mario Kart on Nintendo 64.

What do you think your home says about you? 

I think my home says that I am not afraid to take risks and that I LOVE color. I think that a home built without constraints gives way to a creative mind without constraints.

Where is your favorite place in your home and why?

My favorite place in my home is definitely the area right by the fireplace. I love sprawling out on the snake print carpet with my two pups, especially when the fireplace is lit.

What are your favorite home “scores”?

My Louis Vuitton vintage trunk I scored on a site called Live Auctioneers. I love this trunk because it brings an old/antique sensibility to the apartment. The trunk actually has “New York” printed on the side, which suggests the late owner was from NYC. Another favorite is our pink piano. A friend and I noticed it had been left outside the building next door with a sign that read, “free lesson.” We rolled it back to my apartment, painted it pink and placed it in the living room. I love the piano because it reminds me how amazing New York City is — like, who just finds a piano chilling on the sidewalk?

What’s something about your home you want to change and why?

I would love to change the flooring in both the bathroom and the kitchen. I always envisioned having black and white marble check floors.

What’s something you’ve been looking for forever but still have yet to find?

There isn’t really anything I haven’t been able to find, but a piece I’ve had my eye on is the Ultra Fragola squiggle light up mirror by Ettore Sottsass.

Where do you look for decorating inspiration?

I look at the homes of jewelry designers like Solange Azagury-Partridge for inspiration when decorating. I find that jewelry designers are able to blend bold colors with beautiful intricate pieces in the most balanced and perfect way.

What’s the best piece of decorating wisdom you’ve ever heard?

Be patient and do not decorate all at once – you will find amazing pieces on the way, and each will remind you of a different time/place in your life, so chill and enjoy ☺.

Photos by Heidi’s Bridge.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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