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In Queens, Two Art-Lovers Make Room for Baby

by Garrett Fleming

The places you’ve visited, the people you’ve loved, and the way you were raised are just a few of the factors that can greatly impact the way you style your home. Sometimes we don’t even realize that these influences are guiding us, while other times they’re top-of-mind and honoring them becomes a priority. For Nora Gomez-Strauss and her husband David, two things have influenced their Queens, NY home more than anything else: the Queens Museum and their son Santiago.

If it weren’t for the former, this pair would have never met. Nora was launching the Queens Museum’s social channels and David was its Director of External Affairs when they first started dating. While they’ve since moved on to other roles, their deep love for art has remained and is evident from the moment you step through their front door. An evocative, dramatic piece they picked up on a trip to Cuba sets the tone for their pad and greets visitors. From there, you’ll find art both big and small around every corner, most of which they’ve bought at auction to support their favorite charities. There’s even a painting by David’s mother in the living room and a one-of-a-kind installation above their son’s crib. At some points, it’s as if you’re walking through a gallery.

Art galleries are gorgeous, but they aren’t always the most kid-friendly of places. That being said, when their little guy Santiago came around, the couple had to rethink pretty much everything about their apartment. Their old home office now holds his crib and toys, and the living room’s record collection shares the spotlight with toys and children’s books. Perhaps the space that has been the most affected is the kitchen. Years before Santiago came along the couple renovated it, installing IKEA shelving and open storage. Displaying their neatly-curated stemware and glasses was easy when it was just the two of them, but with Santiago came sippy cups and mini silverware galore. The kitchen is a bit harder to maintain now, but the couple says it’s changed the way they view cleaning and tidiness. There’s no slacking on chores now!

Sure, the home’s never 100% put-together like it once was, but Nora and David’s pad simply wasn’t complete until Santiago arrived. His giggles and smile fill the space with happiness. His parents also say he’s inherited their love for art and has already begun scribbling and having fun with paints and markers. It sounds like this fun family is going to need more wall space. Follow the jump to take a peek at the rest of their Queens, NY home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Carolina Mariana Rodriguez

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A classic "For Like Ever" print hangs above the couple's IKEA bed. David surprised Nora with it.
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David and Nora met while working together at the Queens Museum. When they first began dating, this apartment was David's studio. After buying and combining the studio and the unit next door to it, the space comfortably fits the pair and their new addition, Santiago. He's named after the protagonist in "The Old Man and The Sea," a book by their favorite author, Ernest Hemingway.
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This corner of the couple's bedroom is full of love. Every night before bed Nora sits here and rocks Santiago to sleep, reading to him from a book pulled off shelves his father made. She cherishes those moments. The framed photo that decorates the nook was taken in Montauk on Nora and David's first anniversary.
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This 40-foot, walk-in closet extends past the bedroom down the entire hallway. It runs pretty much the length of the home. Atop it sits what the family calls their "little village."
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Santiago learned to run in this hallway full of closet doors. Behind each one sits treasures collected by garage-sale-fiend David and Etsy-super-fan Nora. If ever a day comes when these closets overflow, they can store goodies above the closet in the nooks you see here.
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Work by Ryan Humphrey, whose home we peeked into years ago, and a Lichtenstein print decorate the apartment's entryway.
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The couple's front door is wallpapered in photos capturing Santiago's first year. Nora used Social Print Studio to create the display and surprised David with it. He's ecstatic that their photos now live somewhere other than on their phone where one wrong swipe can delete memories forever.
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The couple bought this painting on a trip to Havana, Cuba. They love how "beautiful and haunting and very unique," it is. Nora says, "People are often hypnotized by this piece. A pizza man once stared for a few seconds then turned to me and said, 'Your home is scary and beautiful.'"
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Nora's had the living room's mannequin since she was 15. Her mom found it outside a department store. David's a picker as well. He found this black Barcelona-esque chair castoff in the street. A painting by his mother hangs to the left of it above a West Elm sofa.
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The living room's coffee table was nixed after Santiago came along. He simply had to have more room to play. Whenever he wants to swap a toy out, all he has to do is reach for these yellow bins from 3 Sprouts. When he isn't playing, Santiago will climb into his little chair and "read."
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Books and plants decorate the shelves around the kitchen table.
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The entire kitchen, minus the appliances, is outfitted with IKEA cabinetry and shelving. The open shelving was super easy to maintain before Santiago, his sippy cups and accessories came along. Now, Nora and David find it a bit more challenging to maintain order, but they've been keeping up with it pretty well.
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Before Santiago came along, his room -- "the most colorful and joyful spot in the apartment" -- was the couple's home office. It's not very large and has just enough space for a crib, so he typically plays in the living room instead. Above his bed hangs a vintage Pepsi sign. It was used in Duke Riley's show at the Queens Museum titled "Those About to Die Salute You."
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The building Nora and David live in was completed in 1953, but their unit was renovated in 2009.
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The 1,000-square-foot apartment has one-and-a-half bedrooms and two bathrooms.

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