At Home with Maira Kalman

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Walking into the New York City home of author and illustrator Maira Kalman is like stepping into the pages of one of her beautiful books. Small, curated groups of eclectic objects with fascinating histories fill every corner, and there are enough books and artwork to fill a NYC gallery and library several times over. Hers is the type of home that cannot be replicated or produced overnight – this sort of magical, but very relatable, space takes both time and experience to build. When Max, Amy and I met with Maira, we were blown away by how many stories this
one space held. From treasured collections (books, boxes, buttons and more) to unbelievable objects (like conductor Arturo Toscanini’s suit) and family paintings, Maira’s home is like a living, breathing museum curated by someone who finds beauty in the everyday as much as the world of fine art.

Maira has called this West Village apartment (which is actually two apartments combined) home for over 32 years. Originally built in the early 1920s, her home has gone through several transformations with the help of architect Ross Anderson. By keeping the space neat, organized and all white, Maira has created the perfect backdrop for displaying (and living with) a lifetime’s worth of meaningful art, furniture and objects. What struck me most about Maira’s home (aside from the fact that we were actually standing next to – and talking with – one of our community’s most inspiring artists) was the sense of appreciation for all objects. From laundry drop-off tickets and shopping bags to old shoes and paintings, Maira’s home is a welcoming space where all things loved – and lovingly made – can be on equal footing. To say that it was an honor to step into her home would be a great understatement – it is truly a day I know none of us will ever forget. I hope you will enjoy this tour as much as we did. Also, be sure to check out both of Maira’s fantastic new books, My Favorite Things and Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum – both are celebrations of her favorite objects and focus on telling the stories behind incredible objects and artwork. xo, grace

  1. Andrea says:

    Love everything about this space. I am very envious of the Mendl’s box, as I adored the movie. Nice collections and well-placed. Funny, I have the same collection of white shell buttons. I even have the same jar. I never thought to display it, but I will now. To coincidence. Cheers!

  2. janicu says:

    Lovely. I actually wish I could see more of that giant bookshelf!

    FYI: I subscribe via feedly to and it seems to be broken – last thing I see is the Thanksgiving post, not these new posts.

  3. Kelly says:

    Just wanted to give you a heads-up to a typo in the opener (name is Maria in one place).

    Thanks, she has been a favorite of mine for such a long time and I’m super excited to see the tour!

  4. Katy Gilmore says:

    Thank you Grace and team! What a treat – paging through these photos you can see the references for so many Kalman paintings – those red shoes! I love everything about Maira Kalman, she’s a huge inspiration for work, for keeping at it – articulate and accomplished. And congratulations to D*S for wonderful new layout! Seems so clean – almost like a Kalman room, lots of fascinating stuff well curated on white! I, too, have lost my subscription link in the changeover, but hope those glitches soon gone. Again, thank you for this tour – and for D*S!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Thanks Katy!

      We JUST fixed the feed issues and refreshed- it should be working now :)


  5. Kim says:

    I love getting to see into her apartment!

    Her name shows up as Maria on slide 20.

  6. Summer says:

    Lovely, just lovely! Also, it’s exciting that Maira Kalman may love mosses and lichens as much as I do…and books…and art….

  7. Jackie Lamas says:

    Love this home! so busy with lots of important mementos and inspiration! love the new design as well!

  8. That’s a serious book collection! I love how eclectic the space is.

  9. Mary says:

    Great stuff. How fun would it be if everyone pulled out cardboard cell phones and started fake-texting on them?

  10. Grace, this is a truly inspirational tour! In my own little world I’m imagining that Maira is inspired by all the shapes and textures of the objects in her home (As I’m sure she is). The Mendl’s box is precious. I would definitely have that displayed in my home, loved the movie and was inspired by it as well! And the typewriter? Amazing. Wonderful post! Thank you!

  11. New Trix says:

    This posting was a total treat. How generous of Maira to share her home with you and us.

    Seeing the reference to M&Co. immediately stirred nostalgia for the great work of Maira’s late husband, Tibor. (Readers not familiar with his work can get a primer from his 1999 obituary.

    The world has benefited so much from the Kalmans’ creativity and social consciousness.

  12. Mary says:

    So funny, after reading her books and seeing her exhibit at the Jewish Museum a few years back I am familiar with so many of the collections in her home already, sort of feel like I’ve been there/ seen it though of course I have not… Until now! Thank you for a great tour.

  13. Aidel.K says:

    This has been up since December?! Don’t know how I missed it–it’s wonderful! Thank you! Beautiful space filled with beautiful & interesting objects. Loved hearing Maira’s comments, too.

  14. Ckay says:

    Love her and love this piece! I recently discovered her at the Saul gallery and have been infatuated ever since!

  15. Katie VH says:

    I think I recognize that dog (basset hound?) from Ms. Kalman’s illustrated edition of The Elements of Style! It’s fun to see how closely her living space relates to her work. Thanks for this!

  16. Thais says:

    Lovely,beautiful space,this posting was a treat,wonderful post thank you!!

  17. Julie K. says:

    Amazing place! I can’t believe it is in the city, it looks light and spacious. I like paintings, fabrics, colors and those little decorations, really nice and inspiring home.

  18. andrea says:

    a great post that I’m revisiting because it showed up in the sidebar. I love looking at these tours more than once and spotting something new. for example, I just noticed that in slide 22 it looks like grace’s visage has been captured in the broken mirror propped up on the mantle. a little home tour easter egg. :)

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      ha! that is me. good catch ;)


  19. Elizabeth says:

    Love seeing the little collection of moss from Asheville, my beautiful home! Such an amazing space!

  20. Brannan says:

    Lovely space and wonderful lighiting…I was hoping you could tell me about how you took the photograph. What equipment you used and specifically what lens?

  21. Crystal Ketterhagen says:

    I love Maira’s work…and her home. Does anyone know where to get the photo ledges that she has in every room?

  22. I just loved the house. It looks so much pretty. Completely white interiors and nice to see again and again.

  23. judi says:

    I loved the line of mannequins she created for Ralph Pucci. They were so unique – collector’s items.

  24. becky hutner says:

    Love her use and placement of significant objects. Makes me rethink all the things I’m hiding away!

  25. What a beautiful home! I love how bright and spacious the living room is. P.S. The mini furniture decor is absolutely adorable. I’ve got to get some for myself.

  26. elle says:

    Nice home ..beautiful decoration…. i like it. i love t decorate home with wallpaper. but wallpaper should be unique and attractive..i always change my home and office wallpaper too.

  27. Terri says:

    Lovely, just lovely! I love the color of the house and the scheme fits so well.

  28. Leslie Brlec says:

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I love the colours and the style. Please continue to post.


  29. Sadhbh says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. This house is so pretty. Very inspirational.


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