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 apartment of Kim Moreau Jacobs, Head of Copy and Content for Homepolish, occasional freelance decorator. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what she’s all about.
Kim Moreau Jacobs
Neighborhood, # of rooms:
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. One-bedroom with office (railroad style).
What do you do?
I’m the Head of Copy and Content for Homepolish and an occasional freelance decorator.
How long have you lived here?
Who do you live with, animals included?
My husband Steve and our dog, Amy Sedaris.
What do you like about the neighborhood?
It is cartoon-level charming: the gorgeous Brooklyn brownstones, lots of old, Italian men and people with adorable babies, but it still has bars/restaurants/etc. so we don’t feel like the odd ones out.
What about this home?
The original details and molding are really special. The layout, though weird, is also endearing. I always thought it looked like an apartment from a ‘90s TV show because of the unexplainable internal window.
What’s the worst thing about the home?
Original details means old. This apartment could use some fixing. The kitchen is a pretty typical NYC galley, which means two people trying to cook at the same time is nearly impossible. The bathroom and kitchen tile choices are…questionable.
What’s the best?
It feels like exactly the right amount of space. The giant walk-in closet (that’s wired for cable so someone definitely lived in it once) really helps. It’d be nice if the layout was more conducive to entertaining, but I feel lucky to not be cramped. People also consistently say it feels homey, and I have to agree, though that’s kind of a given for me as it’s my home.
Do you ever work from home and if so, what’s that like?
Yes. I’ve freelanced from pretty much every corner of this apartment with little complaint, but having a dedicated space is incredible. The office is very conducive to working when I need to spread out and have real desk space or actually focus and not half-watch Netflix.
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 always decorating and have collected most of the things in this apartment over many years. When we moved in here, I wanted to find a way to make this place feel cohesive despite the weird layout and the fact that Steve and I were blending our stuff for the first time. I chose to paint the entire apartment in a shade neutral enough to serve as a universal backdrop, but with enough weight that it felt thoughtful. I have a ton of art, so things really sprang off from there.
My general aesthetic is kind of Grey Gardens glamour/modern magpie. I wouldn’t call myself a maximalist, but I like stuff. I’m a firm believer of the “if you like things, they’ll go together” school of thought because I think once you know your own sense of style a bit, everything you choose gels. I’m always going to gravitate toward traditional items with a twist because I grew up in Louisiana, and a Southern gothic sensibility runs in my blood. Of course, I subsequently ran away to the city, so my vibe acquired a bohemian eclectic edge. It’s Joni Mitchell meets the Junior League, I would say.
Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating?
The vision is really: How do I decorate the apartment of my dreams without driving Steve out? He lets me have my way most of the time, but I do try to rein it in. The painted roller blind in the office was going to be this sort of Matisse-ish faces/leaves design I drew based on a sign in the West Village and he just kindly asked, “Can everything in our apartment not have a face on it?” So you could call the vision “livable lunacy.”
This apartment is a treasure chest of serendipitous discoveries. I’ve been incredibly blessed with so, so, so many deals and scores. I worked about four or five Jonathan Adler Warehouse Sales in my time as Senior Copywriter there, so there are several items I could have never gotten otherwise. There are a few pieces of NYC street/stoop sale art. The mirror in my bedroom was one of the first things I ever bought in NYC. I got it at the Chelsea Flea Market and carried it (it’s at least 20 pounds) by myself on the A train, up to my apartment in Washington Heights. I found the green chair in the living room on Craigslist and, when I emailed the person, it turned out to be Steve’s upstairs neighbor, so we got it for free. Terrible gambler, fortunate shopper.
Tell a story about one thing in your home: couch, photo, plant, anything.
The wallpaper above the bed is from Brucie, a restaurant Steve and I loved that used to be in the neighborhood. We went on one of our earliest dates there, ate dinner there after he proposed and I had a bridal brunch there the day of our wedding. Before it closed they sold off a lot of the decor, and we got some wallpaper and framed it. The swatch we got kind of looks like the state of Arizona; it makes me so happy to have it in our bedroom.
The hutch in the office is basically like the sisterhood of the traveling cabinet. My old roommate got it from Craigslist in my second New York apartment. We had it there, moved it to another apartment, traded it to a friend, she moved it to another apartment, gave it back to me, my roommate in that apartment took it when I moved out, she gave it to another friend who painted it the current shade of navy who then gave it back to me. It’s so heavy and rickety and I don’t think I’ll ever let it out of my clutches again.
My grandmother collected paperweights so they’re dotted around the apartment. After I moved to NYC, I’d sneak one back in my suitcase every time I went home to visit. But I was never allowed to take the presidents — a set of four who all share the distinction of having been assassinated — until I had a proper place to display them. I’m not necessarily sure why that’s the kind of collection you’d strive for, but they’re a sight to behold.
What about this home makes you feel like it’s a getaway?
In NYC, so many apartments feel undecorated and under-personalized. I like coming home and feeling enveloped in a place with painted walls and pieces with a real story behind them. There’s nothing too precious to use, but it’s all precious to me (laaaame!).
For someone young and trying to nest, what are your top three tips when it comes to finding /buying for the home?
Don’t be afraid to do things. I go into so many apartments where no one wants to make a hole in the wall or paint or buy something they might not want to move to their next apartment. Who cares?! You live there now! If buying something or working on your apartment solves a short-term problem or makes you happy immediately, it is worth it. Don’t be a martyr about where you live!
But seemingly contrary, do have some patience. When it comes to bigger purchases, be willing to wait it out. Don’t just buy everything at IKEA in a Swedish meatball-soaked haze. Get one piece at a time. I ate pizza on my bed for several weeks when I moved to the city so I could save up for a desk and then a chair I liked, rather than just buying a bunch of stuff from one spot at the outset.
New York City lighting is awful. Get some lamps, put a dimmer switch in, take down the garbage overhead, replace it with something you like, and put the original under your bed until you move out. Bonus: if things are dimmer, no one will know how sparsely decorated your place is.
What about a total amateur in putting a room together — any tips?
Pick a palette and then funk it up a little bit. The living room colors all pull from the rug, but I’m not that particular about getting them to match exactly. As long as they’re in the general color family, it’s fine. Also…don’t be afraid. It’s just an apartment. It’s literally just stuff. Nothing serious hinges on whether or not the wall color you chose is too dark. You can undo anything that’s truly heinous.
What does your dream room look like?
Comfortable, unexpected, layered, curated. Similar to what I have but probably bigger and with slightly more luxurious materials.
What’s the one thing every home should have?
Something you would want to run in during a fire to save, not because it’s expensive, but because it brings you that much joy.