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 Bed-Stuy one-bedroom home of Brother Vellies’ Creative Director Aurora James. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what she’s all about.
How long have you lived here?
Who do you live with, animals included?
It’s a whole menagerie over here. Plants are people, too.
What do you like about your hood?
What about this apartment?
It’s definitely like my treehouse. I’m incredibly lucky to have found it. The space is amazing.
What’s the worst thing about the apartment?
The G Train.
What’s the best?
The floors and the ceiling height I guess? Truly, the best thing about it is that it’s mine, it’s my space. A place is just a box until you make it a home, right?
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 do work from home. I always have, it’s my very favorite place to work. My job is such a huge part of my life and also directly tied to my happiness, so there are no walls or boundaries.
What did you think about when decorating? What was the process like? Did you start with one piece and design around that or has it been add-as-you-go?
I’m definitely an ‘add as you go’ person. I don’t bring anything or anyone into my room that I’m not in love with. I have to be really really in love with a couch or carpet or picture frame for it to make it into my space. But falling in love also isn’t only about aesthetics. More often than not, there’s an emotional connection. Most of these plants are rescues.
Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating? What was it and where’d you get it from?
What are your favorite apt “scores” and where are they from?
I love my driftwood coffee table. I got it in Los Angeles off of Craigslist for $65. My branch closet is also a fave of mine and was roughly $10 in the flower market. You could also just go outside and get one for free. Options.
Tell a story about one thing in your apartment – couch, photo, plant, anything (how you came across it, if you upholstered it, etc)
The African painting holds a special place in my heart. I bought it from someone on the side of the road in Kenya. We were driving and I saw it and yelled to pull over. I spent a long time staring at it because it had an odd sense of familiarity. It was much larger than anything I ever hope to fly across the Atlantic Ocean with, but I felt that I couldn’t leave it behind. A few months later a friend came over who worked at SUNO. It turns out that painting was done by an artist that Max Osterweis had commissioned to reinterpret their lookbook photos. Each day that I look at it it serves as an amazing reminder to me of how we are all connected, even a million miles from home.
For someone young and broke and trying to nest, what are your top 3 tips in finding /buying for the home?
Honestly, I still consider myself young and broke. 90% of the things in my home are from my travels, Craigslist or the flea market. I would say take your time. Search keywords on Craigslist when you’re looking for things and always head to the flea market early. Get crafty and experimental. Little things like vintage wallpaper from eBay can totally transform your space.
What about a total amateur in putting a room together – any tips?
Choose a color and texture story and stick with it. For example: wood and white. Or pink and brass.
What does your dream room look like?
What’s the one thing every apartment should have?
A chair that is so comfortable it makes your guest feel at home.
Anything else you want to add?
There is so much emphasis put on homes, spaces and personal aesthetics. I’m sure some people look at my home and think it’s completely overwhelming, but ultimately it is a reflection of my life. It’s real, it’s alive, it’s cluttered. The last five years have been rich with experience and I’m happy that my home reflects that.