interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: abbey nova

by anne


we have the wonderful joanna goddard to thank for the tip on our next sneak peek: abbey nova. abbey is a master’s student in the history of design at the cooper-hewitt national design museum in nyc, and is currently researching american silversmiths for an upcoming catalog for the metropolitan museum of art. much of her inspiration is wrapped up in her delightful blog, abbey goes design scouting, and etsy shops featuring vintage accessories and stationery designs. we hope you enjoy her beautiful home as much as we did, and be sure to click here for more, full-sized images (including more great descriptions and product information from abbey). [thanks, abbey!]anne

[Above: Our apartment has really high ceilings and a huge double mantel over the fireplace. When we first moved in we were intimated by all the white space. I’ve collected prints and paintings over time (and painted some of these myself) and it just seemed natural to put them together like this and to have the ability to add and subtract as we like. We keep the rest of the apartment really spare, otherwise I think the effect would be cluttered. But this way, the fireplace and mantel are the focus of the room and a burst of color. Visitors love looking at everything and learning a lot about us in the process. Many of the decorative items came from our honeymoon in Paris – I dragged my good-natured husband to literally every flea market in the city. So, it many ways, it is a living reminder of that trip and our early marriage in our everyday. Something I value in this apartment is that because we took time to select each piece, almost everything represents something special: a memory of a trip, a great meal, a sunny afternoon or maybe a place we’ve lived.]


Having enough work space has always been a struggle as we both tend to do a lot of work at home. We finally created a “partners” desk with two lovely desks from Room and Board pushed back to back. I like that we can be social while working.


I love to garden (left over from my childhood spent playing in the dirt in Vermont) and I spend a lot of time in the spring and summer bringing our narrow balcony to life with greenery. I also use plants as decoration everywhere I can.


We splurged on a few new items, including the blue velvet sofa , our desks (both from Room and Board) and solar shades from the Shade Store, but almost everything else is the result of vintage sleuthing or a family hand-me-down. My mother’s style and ability to mix vintage items and funky furniture into a cohesive, welcoming space has been a huge influence on the decoration of the apartment. Case in point: our plant sanctuary, which is one of our favorite areas. We saved the green wooden table, a sweet chair and a copper boot tray from the trash pile when my parents moved out of my childhood home in Vermont. Now, the tray sits on the table filled with plants and a Chinese wedding basket and the chair is extra seating at the dining table when we need it. A painting of my great aunt peeks out from behind the greenery.


My husband and I live in a one bedroom apartment in New York that we chanced upon just over a year ago. When we walked through the front door and saw the morning light streaming through the windows and washing over the walls, we rented it on the spot. The building, lovingly owned by the same family for generations, used to be a single family house and our apartment was originally a set of parlors (separate for ladies and gents, thank you very much). It’s the third floor of a four story prewar building and the apartment has barely been renovated. On the positive side, that means it has beautiful hardwood floors, high ceilings and tons of light. It also means the kitchen is tiny, I regularly have epic battles with the oven and there are no electrical outlets on the entire left side of the apartment. This has lead to a lot of creativity in terms of furniture placement and candle lit dining (since the dining room is on the left side of the apartment).


We wanted our bedroom, more than anything, to be an oasis. We’ve kept it very simple and soothing, without a lot of decoration or clutter. The painting between the widows is by Michael Abrams and the two smaller Wolf Kahn pastels on the mantel were wedding presents. We purposely hung the curtains low so that when we’re lying in bed we can watch the swaying tree tops from our neighbors’ gardens. The chair is a vintage find of my mother’s that she decided she didn’t like after she slip covered it. Naturally, I snapped it up and I absolutely adore it.


The bathroom has the original sink and tub, which is a treat. The storage unit and tin buckets are from IKEA. The faux bois towels are Martha Stewart at Kmart and waterworks (snagged at the ABC home warehouse). . . This treasure chest was a gift from my mother (who has a similar one herself) and I tuck the little ephemeral bits of life I just can’t bear to throw out here (like a silly plastic duck, or the first little gift from my husband or various sea shells and rocks…you get the idea).



The entry way wrangles coats, mail/keys, recycling and shoe storage in a very small space. I’m particularly proud of this solution, because the console is actually a repurposed West Elm desk that otherwise would have been tossed! The wooden crates are used for recycling and were themselves recycled from a local wine store. I adore photobooths and love having a collection of photobooth pictures of friends and family on our door (many of which were taken at our wedding). You can’t help but walk out with a smile on your face.




Tin Trays: Ebay, Desks: Room and Board Basis desk in walnut, Bag: Jack Gomme, Red Trash Can: Office surplus that I spray painted red


Decorating non working fireplaces can be a challenge and when I saw these milk glass balls in the window of ABC home I just knew I had to try them in our fireplace. In the bedroom fireplace I’ve been experimenting with planters, as plants give a bit of life to an otherwise very calm room.

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  • I love the tiny accents of red that pop up throughout – what a great way to make the French garret style just a touch more modern. Especially those claret (is that lucite?) cabinets! Will have to try…

  • breathtaking.
    t a s t e.

    all except that (gorgeous) mixed race couple making out in the middle of the photo booth pictures. get a room! ;)

    reminds me a little of tasty james spader”s _p e r f e c t_ home in the movie secretary… maybe with a long caterpillar crawling across the flawless white linens…

  • I can feel this couples love through this apartment. It’s lovely, so personal and tasteful. It reminds me that personal touches when edited can really make a room, thanks for the peak.

  • Oh, I am loving this sneak peek so had to comment! I love that everything is organized but not fussy, and that the home looks so comfortable and inviting. It feels like a house (not apartment)…and you can feel the personality of the couple that lives there. Love it!

  • What a breath of fresh air! I absolutely love the photo of your terrace with all the green plants. Golly! is all I can say! Sunlight is the key to having a sanctuary to come home to. It’s always at the top of my checklist whenever I have moved into a new place. Bravo to you both!

  • wow that bedroom is lovely, so calming! i think i’ll be spending my weekend whiting up everything in my room now.

    & a photobooth at a wedding, cute idea! makes me want to get married!

  • Abbey, I am so excited for you… congratulations! Your apartment is stunning. I love all the light, and the beautiful white bedroom, and there are just too many lovely details to mention. GORGEOUS!

  • I don’t wish to be mean spirited – but what student can afford this apartment and to shop at ABC home and carpet? This is lovely – well done and envy inspiring – but not that useful to most in tiny apts with no view, moldings etc…

  • Abbey’s home is so inpsiring! We are going to redo our bedroom soon and the idea of keeping it very simple speaks to me. Thanks for posting this!

  • Abbey, thank you for sharing images of your home. I am so inspired by your aesthetic. I also love the mix of vintage and modern. An eclectic mingling of the things that inspire and make you happy. It makes for a beautiful and livable space. I also am printing some pictures for my inspiration board!

  • What neighbourhood do you live in? And to agree with Sue, how do you afford shopping at ABC as a student? Ah… what a beautiful life! Thanks for sharing.

  • sue and margaret, don’t forget, not everyone goes straight from undergraduate to graduate work. also, she shares the home with her husband :)


  • Sue, Margaret, I totally understand the question because ABC Home is insanely expensive. Anne is right of course, I did work at a corporate job for 5 years before going back to school. I don’t do a lot of shopping there: the only pieces in the apartment from ABC are the towels and the rug which I got at a huge ABC warehouse sale, so I paid well below retail and the milkglass balls in the fireplace which run between $10-$35 each.

    For those of you who admired the modern furniture in the apartment, we bought most of it from a dealer on craigslist whose current listings you can find by searching for his phone number: 908-313-4212.

    xo Abbey

  • Wow! Joanna was right – your place is FANTASTIC!!! You have such an eye and so many fantastic pieces. I have so enjoyed my tour.

  • Wow, for a one bedroom apartment this place seems HUGE! Or maybe just compared to the teeny tiny flat we live in! :)

    Beautiful space, very inspiring!! I would like to move. Right now! Beautiful.

  • LOVE! what a beautiful home… i can only imagine how difficult it must be to leave…i’m sure you love coming home! would love to see photos of your kitchen… i know you said it was small but i’m sure you have done wonderful things in there as well. thanks for sharing!

  • I love the balls in the fireplace! A woman I know has potted violets in her nonworking fireplace. She had to add a grow light for them to survive in the dark fireplace.

  • just like all the others.. i am drooling over the place.. dont wory.. i will clean it up!
    but i really mean it.. i love that you actually live in this place.. not just have all new ‘designer’ things around.. it really looks comfortable and most importantly functional…
    do you plan on raising kids here? haha.. sorry really getting into things here.. ha
    anyho.. getting a peek inside such a beautiful home is a real pleasure.. so thank you to both you (abbey) and your husband for letting us into your world!


    ps- candle lit dining sounds fun!

  • Okay! Thanks for the info, Abbey — I love a good sale.
    PS- I didn’t assume that Abbey went straight to grad after undergrad… I certainly didn’t do that myself. NYC is just expensive, and it’s amazing how people can do it! just wondering!!

  • Abbey, your apartment is an oasis of calm and good taste. I love how you’ve been able to artfully display your mementos and treasures while totally avoiding the cluttered look. Great tour!

  • That blue velvet couch is amazing and would love to find something similar- do I understand correctly that you got that at R&B? What a wonderful oasis you have created!

  • Hi Erin, so glad you enjoyed the sneak peek — the couch is indeed from R&B and is the “Hutton” in vance indigo. We love it! We got two matching side square pillows too, which I would recommend — makes it easy to stretch out and take a nap. PS Tracy check the Flickr set for a shot of the kitchen…

  • Abbey – I love these photos of your apartment! In many ways it reminds me of your parents house in Vermont. Very comfortable, thoughtful and inspiring.

  • These rooms have an amazing amount of style and yet they are cozy and inviting! There is lots of attention to detail which makes the rooms very personal. Bravo!

  • Lovely lovely sneak peek…odd question, I’ve been eyeing that Hutton sofa, and trying to decide if my room could handle the 98″ one, is the one pictured the smaller size? Thanks.

  • Wonderful photos! And it’s even better in person! Seriously, your balcony space is phenomenal. Kudos for keeping all those plants healthy! And I LOVE the mantel creations…and the glass balls…and the shared desks…and basically all of it.

  • I just discovered your blog. Gorgeous!
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    You’ve given a much needed boost to my decorating creativity.

  • I’m worried I may be a little late to the game on this, but just in case Abbey still checks the comments on this page:

    Can you tell me where those gorgeous bookcases are from? (I don’t think that was listed.) Many thanks!

  • Beautiful sunny place, it reminds me of Meg Ryan’s apartment in “You’ve Got Mail”. If you feel like sharing – what exactly are those gorgeous white paint colors? F&B?

  • Last week, I saw the exact same magazine rack in a garbage pile on my street and thought about salvaging it on my way home. I totally forgot and now I regret it…

  • where has this blog, which tOtally just reinvigorated my creative senses, been all my life? while I wouldn’t choose apt life again, I would, however, love that interior. nice!!

  • there are apartments like this in new york? which neighborhood? must be upper east side…