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 West Village loft of Autumn Hruby, the founder of clothing brand and art-literary journal Hesperios. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what she’s all about.
Neighborhood, # of rooms:
West Village, two-bedroom loft
What do you do?
I’m the founder of Hesperios.
How long have you lived here?
Who do you live with, animals included:
I live with Bob and Charlie. They’re my miniature Australian shepherds — a red and blue merle.
What do you like about your hood?
What’s the worst thing about the apartment?
The main living room is too dark. I installed a wall-size mirror to reflect more light. Fortunately, my bedroom makes up for it. I prefer very bright spaces.
What’s the best thing about the apartment?
I have four windows in my bedroom including a skylight and views of an overgrown garden, trees and vines, which is the main reason I chose this apartment. I forget I’m in the city. I also have no neighbors to either side of me or below (after business hours). In my last apartment, I could always hear the woman next to me walking around in high heels. I love not having to worry about that anymore.
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 think dedicated work spaces are important. I worked from home for many years. It’s nice to finally have some boundaries with an office space. My apartment and office are both on Bleecker St. and I walk every day, back and forth. On rainy days, I love working from my bed, but that’s a rarity, unless I hit a wall from working too much.
I work from home when focusing on a new collection or content for Hesperios journal. I have an art studio in the second bedroom. I have a thing for long tables and have four in my apartment, each one for specific projects. The writing table in my bedroom is filled with books, a dictionary, markers, a typewriter and various papers. There is a table in my art studio for research and the collection. Then there are two long tables in the main rooms for either dining, working or art projects. I also love to use them when I host dinner parties. My friend Stella gave me a Kintsugi kit for my birthday, so one of the tables has become a repair station for my broken ceramics (I’m just trying to decode the Japanese instructions). Sometimes I invite my team to work from my apartment. When I do that, I make everyone omelettes and cappuccinos.
What did you think about when decorating? What was the process like? Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating? What was it and where’d you get it from?
I usually think of what I will be doing in the space first. Then I think of places where I’ve traveled, or long summers in Martha’s Vineyard, Italy, Greece and Sweden and then I try to recreate that feeling. I designed my space to inspire a daily ritual of creating, reading, writing and cooking — and now painting. Before I found my office, I worked from home, so the creative process and research were the central focus, which inevitably guided the decoration process. It’s very spontaneous. Tables are a big part of my vision, obviously, as is creating areas or nooks that I want to be in for awhile. I started with my bedroom and my writing desk. I have a tendency to blow up wall-size images of very simple and serene landscapes. I let the photographs inform the space around them.
Did you start with one piece and design around that or has it been add-as-you-go?
When I moved in three years ago, I was taking a lot of road trips to Martha’s Vineyard, finding furniture at estate sales and antique shops in Essex, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. I needed an island table as an additional surface because my kitchen is small and I like to cook. I found a black wooden table with three drawers for $100 and commissioned a custom-cut slab of Carrera marble to put on top. Once that was finished, I had four floating shelves installed directly above the island table for my ceramics. Certain pieces of furniture definitely dictate the rest of the space.
What are your favorite apartment “scores” and where are they from?
Kai Kristiansen Teak dining chairs from 1956 in perfect condition.
Tell a story about one thing in your apartment – couch, photo, plant, anything.
I have a collection of ceramics made by Lena Willhammar, a ceramicist whose work I first discovered at the restaurant Daniel Berlin in Sweden. I went to visit her studio the following day in Åhus and ended up photographing her. We will sell her collection in the upcoming Hesperios Shop.
For someone young and trying to nest, what are your top three tips in finding/buying for the home?
Learn how (or find someone who knows how) to build out your furniture designs or install floating shelves (for books and objects), research and ask for several quotes (locally, Task Rabbit, etc.) until you find someone who can meet your budget. Nice, talented people are out there who aren’t looking to take advantage. Invest in many books and read them — they are beautiful and make any environment warm and inviting. Look for light, wood floors and make sure the shell of the home feels good, and only then bring in things that complement the space and inspire you. Otherwise keep it minimal. Invest in one really special thing like a nice lamp that has a story, rather than cheap things you will eventually throw away. Quality over quantity. Invest in frames and frame artwork you’ve saved: art from friends, children (they always make the best art) and letters.
What about a total amateur in putting a room together — any tips?
Support emerging artists you admire. Buy their work and hang it on your wall.
What does your dream room look like?
My dream room is an art studio/writing/reading room with a library, a piano and an oval freestanding travertine bathtub in an old stone farmhouse that dates back to the bronze age, renovated with heated floors, skylights and large glass doors that open up to an overgrown wildflower field.
What’s the one thing every apartment should have?
A bathtub and a bookshelf.