After years of living in a boxy, dim NYC apartment, our founder, Nicole Gibbons, was ready for a palette change when she moved into her light-filled Upper West Side rental. “I’d been using color to compensate for the lack of light in my previous apartment,” she explains. “This time, I wanted a clean, neutral space with strategic splashes of color.”
This meant unloading the bulk of her furniture so that she could outfit the space with fresh pieces that reflected her evolving aesthetic, and picking a color palette that played up the natural light, as well as the prewar charm of the space. “I wanted it to feel light and airy while highlighting the architectural character of the apartment,” she explains.
Curious how you can create a bright and airy home sanctuary like Nicole? From paint tips to affordable renter-friendly swaps and more, she walks us through her apartment tour:
1. Use paint to enhance interesting architectural details.
To ensure the space felt open and bright, Nicole painted the entire NYC apartment from top to bottom in crisp, clean hues that help enhance the natural light. For the formal entryway and living room, she went with Penthouse, an ultra-pale greige that has the perfect mix of warm and cool undertones, and applied a fresh coat of warm white Whipped to the baseboards, crown moldings, and doors to highlight the rooms’ prewar details. “Whipped is our bestselling white for a reason,” Nicole says. “It’s such a beautiful warm white that plays off the warm greige throughout the space.”
2. Stick with a light color palette to maximize light.
To play up the natural light in the bedroom, Nicole painted the walls in Classic, an airy gray with a hint of saturation that’s slightly cooler than the Penthouse-painted living room and entryway. She also layered clean off-white linen rugs and roman shades to add softness. “The bedroom gets the best light in the apartment,” she explains. “I wake up and feel like I’m in a soft, airy light box.”
3. Create a neutral foundation with light-colored furniture.
To create a clean backdrop for the apartment, Nicole filled the space with neutral furniture pieces, including a vintage Karl Springer lacquered goatskin credenza, caned dining chairs, and a white upholstered sofa. “I wanted everything to feel light and bright like a breath of fresh air,” she explains.
4. Be strategic about brighter colors.
To infuse personality into her NYC apartment, Nicole incorporated eye-catching decor accents, including Danish mid-century armchairs from 1stDibs that she covered in pale pink upholstery, pastel-hued throw pillows, and a colorful abstract painting by artist Nicole Cohen. “I was very intentional about color this time around,” she says. “I relied on a small handful of statement pieces to provide strategic splashes of color.”
5. Replace outdated light fixtures and hardware.
For an affordable renter-friendly upgrade that delivers maximum impact, Nicole swapped out all of the builder-grade door knobs, light fixtures, cabinet hardware, switch plates, and outlet covers with more sophisticated styles from places like West Elm and Amazon. “Fixtures and hardware are like jewelry for your room,” she explains. “And you can take them with you when you move.”