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 Bellport home of Lalena Luba, VP of Global Public Relations for Kate Spade New York. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what she’s all about.
Neighborhood, # of rooms:
Bellport, NY. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms — but 10 rooms total.
What do you do?
I’m the VP of Global Public Relations for Kate Spade New York.
How long have you lived here?
We’ve lived here part-time for the last two years.
Who do you live with, animals included:
My husband Mike, my son Jake and my daughter Stella.
What do you like about your ‘hood?
Where do I begin? There is so much to like! The bay beach at the end of our road (and Fire Island across the bay), Mother’s Beach to watch the perfect sunset, Carla Marla’s for ice cream after, The Bellport for the arguably best food in all of New York, the entire Bellport/Brookhaven community (which is a mix of laid-back creatives and super interesting, chill people), the Seilenna coffee shop and boutique (where you can find incredible, one-of-a-kind pieces) and the marsh boardwalk.
What about this house?
The barn wood cupboards were the first thing I liked – also the pool, landscaping and the light inside and outside the house. I love either super-modern homes or old homes, and this house falls into the latter category (it was built in 1899).
What’s the worst thing about the house?
The bathrooms need serious updating but my husband and I have agreed to take our time so that we actually get to enjoy the space instead of always trying to fix things. The kitchen sink is also due for some work.
What’s the best?
Two fireplaces. I haven’t had a fireplace since childhood.
Do you ever work from home and if so, what’s that like? Is it important to you to have a dedicated work space or do you work from bed/the couch?
I am definitely a work from bed/couch/pool kind of gal. Sadly, neither my husband nor I ever fully unplug, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to get things done with a drink in your hand and your feet in the pool.
Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating?
I had a vision for our ideal dream house on or near the ocean that started taking shape before we even found this place, which actually ended up enhancing it. While decorating, I thought a lot about reading and napping. I wanted an abundance of airy, light-filled, peaceful space where you wouldn’t have to worry about tracking in sand from the beach.
I grounded the white theme with black touches, and strove for a minimalist aesthetic with some bohemian elements. Then I just found pieces I loved – some I had been coveting for a long time and some I just stumbled on, mostly from online sources like 1st dibs, Chairish, Restoration Hardware, Urban Outfitters and, of course, Kate Spade.
We also were able to utilize a few killer mid-century modern vintage pieces passed down from my husband’s family, and I even asked to keep a few things from the woman who sold us the house. It is still a work in progress, though.
What are your favorite “scores” and where are they from?
The Urban Outfitters pieces were the biggest scores — two one-of-a-kind rugs. One of them is on the floor in the master guest room and I want to hang the other one on a wall. I also found some great hanging chairs. One is in the kids’ room, the other I’m hoping to put in a bathroom after we eventually refinish them. Also, the mauve Target stools I got on sale were a pretty epic find!
For someone young and low on money and trying to nest, what are your top three tips in finding /buying for the home?
Absolutely buy what you love and whatever gives you a thrill when you look at it. Don’t worry if it’s cheap or not from a well-known brand or store. I have a theory that if you shop for your home similarly to how you shop for your wardrobe, you will probably be happy with what you buy. If you have a modern, minimalist personal style, you’ll likely enjoy a minimalist look in your home. I’m attracted to similar prints and textures both in fashion and in my home. Mixing masculine and feminine – finding that balance – is how I think about putting together an outfit and a room (i.e. a feminine fringe blanket tossed over a masculine leather bench).
Lastly, I’m a huge believer in form and function. If it’s just pretty but doesn’t really do anything, I stay away from it, especially if it’s a big-ticket item. That’s why I’m drawn to benches and sectional furniture.
What about a total amateur in putting a room together — any tips?
I’m a believer in keeping things simple. Stick with white or neutral walls. If you want color or texture, focus on things like pillows, vases and blankets. If you get sick of it or it doesn’t work anymore, it’s easy to swap out or remove entirely. I also think it’s important to think about what you will actually be doing in the space and decorate it with that in mind. Spend the larger part of your budget on seating and lighting and less on the rugs and decorative items.
What does your dream room look like?
Definitely an indoor/outdoor space. And if I’m really dreaming, there is also a deep bathtub and a fireplace. A mix of white tile, cement and glass with touches of wood and steel. Lots and lots of light. And a wall of windows overlooking the water (beach or pool) that open floor-to-ceiling.
What’s the one thing every apartment should have?
A record player and comfortable seating.