A Personalized, Colorful Family Condo Near Central Park

by Sabrina Smelko

Deciding where to plant roots can be tough, and for blogger, Kid & Coe community manager and marketing strategist Nicole Gonzalez and her fiancé, Ivan, this choice was made even harder due to the fact that they had their young son, Lucas León, to consider. Both NYC natives, the couple knew all too well the overwhelming possibilities that exist in the city. Initially, when they were tossing around neighborhood names, Ivan — who was raised on the Upper West Side — wasn’t fond of the idea of the Upper East, but it didn’t take long for him to realize the potential that Nicole recognized all along. “What I loved was the proximity to everything,” Nicole shares, “and how family-friendly it was.” Two years and another baby later (a little peach named Lillie Sol), and any hesitation Ivan once had has completely gone out the window.

The family’s light and airy Upper East Side condo is filled with plenty of personal touches, but still imparts an uncluttered and minimal aesthetic in all the right ways. Although their space is only 700 square feet, and even with a big teddy bear of a dog, Humphrey Bogart, having Central Park, their favorite restaurants, and endless options for family outings at their doorstep makes up for the crammed quarters — although baskets can’t be discounted! “I have clutter-phobia,” Nicole declares, “and my best friend[s] are baskets!” Joking aside, when asked what she loves most about their home, Nicole admits “our view gets me every time.” With an unobstructed view of the East River, Nicole relishes in the moment of calm that strikes only in the early morning or late in the evening “when the house is quiet and I have a moment to myself to sit and unwind.”

For Nicole, a house becomes a home when it’s filled with family photographs and artifacts — both new and old. “It brings history and love into the house,” she says, “My most prized possessions are the pieces of furniture and art that have been passed down to us by family members. They are reminders of how blessed and loved we are.” Although their space has been lived in and loved, the next project on the family’s agenda in the new year is tackling their kitchen. “It’s pretty bare bones at the moment,” Nicole explains, “functional but not loved.” On the short-list is a fresh coat of paint, installing shelving to finally display wedding china that was passed down to Nicole and Ivan by her aunt, and a chalkboard wall for the kids. At the end of the day, no matter how many activities they have planned or how many items on the to-do list, Nicole remains house-proud “of our tiny nooks, filled with family gems and pieces that mean so very much to us… I am most thankful for the people in my home,” Nicole reflects. “My family, my loves; they are what bring life, laughter, and joy inside those walls and for that I will be forever grateful.” –Sabrina

Photography by DIA New York

The living room is a cheerful, happy space for the entire family. "Our living space is where we spend the most [time] as a family," Nicole explains, "I love the open view and how the sun streams in each morning."
One big, happy and growing family! The skull that hangs on the wall was a meaningful souvenir the couple found and brought back with them from an adult's-only trip they recently took to New Orleans. They named her Nola and she serves as a reminder of their time together.
Their main furniture items, such as the grey couch from West Elm, were purposely kept neutral. Pops of color are introduced through accessories, plants and smaller furniture pieces. The plush rug is from Rugs USA and the macrame plant holder is from Tallulah.
The rattan pieces in their living room were all found at thrift stores. Adorned with a faux sheepskin throw, the armchair becomes a comfortable, snug reading spot.
Beside the children's rattan chair is this butterfly beauty from CB2. The reversible grid blanket is from Modern Burlap.
Even in the media area, no nook or cranny is without a family photo or meaningful object. Given the small space, this IKEA wall unit not only adds interest and charm to the room, but offers some much needed surface areas for both displaying decorative items and storing functional ones.
The contrasting warm and cold hues found in this vintage art piece (an heirloom, passed down from Nicole's family) inspired the entire space.
Nicole believes in balancing "current snapshots as well as old family photos" in each room.
Even in the dining area, the ochre and blue tones have found their way in through throw pillows from West Elm and ones found at thrift stores, accessories and furniture such as their grey-blue high chair from Stokke.
Hovering over their tulip dining table is a pendant from IKEA which casts a warm light and makes the space feel more intimate.
A detail shot of their dining pendant and vase from West Elm.
This is Lucas Leon's bedroom, filled with pops of color to showcase his fun, spunky personality. "Lucas says his room is his favorite one in the whole house," Nicole beams, "and it makes me so incredibly [proud] that we have created a space for him that he absolutely loves."
Hits of Scandinavian style are peppered throughout the room through a balance of minimal objects, such as the black and white string ball, and fun, whimsical ones, like the pillows.
Leon's bed is from IKEA, the bedding is thrifted and the fun pillows are from Natti Natti and Mini Boheme.
At the foot of the bed is a bold, black trunk passed down from Nicole's grandmother. Against the walls - painted in Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White - it really pops.
Some of Lucas Leon's toys atop the trunk, which stores many more!
Books not only add color, but when displayed on this shallow shelf, they become a kind-of gallery wall of art.
On the opposite wall of the bookshelf is a reading nook. The chair is from IKEA and the wicker basket is from Serena and Lily.
Another example of aesthetics at work is this colorful coat hanger, adding an artsy touch when empty, and offering function when used.
Nicole and Ivan's master bedroom is light, airy and neutral. "We only have two bedrooms," Nicole explains, "so we created a shared space in our master until Lillie is old enough to share a room with her brother."
With Lillie's crib bedside, things like this clip-on lamp come in handy when floor space is filled and there's no room for a side table.
"My favorite part of our bedroom is the nook/shelving area I created for Lillie Sol," Nicole explains, "It includes a beautiful Jess Brown rag doll from Smitten, vintage dresses passed down from my mother-in-law, and her small library that I plan to continue expanding as she grows."
Nicole says of Lillie's crib being within arms reach, "She usually winds up in bed with us in the early morning for snuggles and extra loving." Her bedding from Olli Ella is neutral yet whimsical and goes perfectly with the couple's white duvet and sheets from Parachute Home.
The view of the window wall to the left of the couple's bed.
The feeling of having the whole family together is what Nicole loves most about home.

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