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 East Village three-bedroom home of Phoebe and Annette Stephens, jewelry designers behind the line Anndra Neen. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what they’re all about.
Name: Phoebe and Annette Stephens. (Phoebe answered the questions)
What do you do? We’re jewelry designers.
How long have you lived here? Since October.
Who do you live with, animals included? I live alone by night and with Annette by day since our office is at the apartment.
What do you like about your hood? It has great restaurants and Tompkins Square Park is a block away. We keep discovering new finds.
What about this apartment? I love my bedroom; it’s quiet. The only thing I hear in the morning are children playing and birds chirping.
What’s the worst thing about the apartment? I have a nosy neighbor who gets really stressed out about the correct disposal of trash.
What’s the best? Two bathrooms on two different floors is great for dating and the fact that it is quiet and has lots of light.
What’s your work-from-home advice? It is always easier to be organized and focused when you have a designated space.
What did you think about when decorating? What was the process like? The pieces in my apartment have moved around with me for years. All of them have a personal story. I guess I would call myself a collector. More is more when it comes to decorating. I appreciate minimal spaces, but I’m not sure I could live in one. I think it takes time to decorate an apartment. It’s never really finished. It should feel like a living, breathing space as it’s an extension of one’s self.
Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating? I didn’t. It happened organically — sometimes objects find their way in a space. Our father was a big collector of art and furniture. When you’re young, you take it for granted, but later on, when it’s your turn to decorate a place, you notice the influence it had on you. I could never hire a decorator; it’s too impersonal.
What are your favorite “scores” and where are they from? I love the Afghan war rugs that I found in Martha’s Vineyard super randomly and the Mexican woven baskets.
Tell a story about one thing in your apartment: couch, photo, plant, anything. Ten years ago three friends and I were at a Phillips de Pury auction, where I was working at the time. We got a bit tipsy and dared each other to buy a Rolf Sachs sled. The next morning’s hangover came with more than just a headache. Now it’s the perfect bench!
For someone young and broke and trying to nest, what are your top three tips? Flea markets are the best way to go. New York also has amazing furniture on the streets. My parents found an incredible Finn Juhl chair on the curb. There’s also always Ikea which, if you mix with your flea market finds, doesn’t look so bad.
What about a total amateur in putting a room together — any tips? Analyze your space. Figure out what furniture you might need. Then you can create an inspiration board. Pinterest has great images. You can see spaces you love and try and emulate them.
What’s the one thing every apartment should have? A flashlight.