If you’ve ever looked for an apartment online, you know that what you see is not always what you get — and that might be doubly true in a tough market like New York City. When content creator Taylor Phillips and his partner, actor Jeff O’Donnell, were looking for their first place together earlier this year, they got a lead on an apartment near Columbus Circle from a friendly stranger in a coffee shop. They couldn’t find any photos online, but they immediately fell in love with the large open floor plan by stalking the listing on StreetEasy, which Taylor had been checking daily for six months. But when they got in touch with the owner and went to tour the apartment itself, they were in for a bit of a shock. The decor was, in Jeff’s words, “horrendous.” “The previous tenants had massive, ornate furniture. There were literally 17 chairs in the living room area,” Taylor says, laughing. The kitchen was also extremely outdated. “It was hard to see past it at first.”
Eventually they did, though, by looking at StreetEasy listings of other units in the building to get inspired by what the place could look like without all the crazy chairs. (Seriously, 17!) Then the owner offered to let them completely gut-renovate and customize the kitchen at no extra cost, which was a huge plus. What was left was exactly what they had been looking for: a large one-bedroom with a mix of modern amenities and pre-war charm, a dining room for dinner parties and game nights, and plenty of living space that could soon be a playground for a new puppy. All they had to do next was get some furniture, so they turned to the free West Elm Design Crew service.
Taylor, Jeff + Parker (the new puppy!)
Jeff and Taylor quickly hit it off with Charity DeLeora Ray from the West Elm Broadway Design Crew. “She came over when absolutely nothing was here, and we sat on the floor in a circle and talked for three hours,” Taylor says. “We didn’t say, we need a couch, we need a desk, whatever. It was more, How did you meet? What do you guys do?”
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“I wanted to know what they liked – not even in terms of furniture, but in terms of what their day-to-day life is like,” Charity says. “I wanted to make sure we were picking things that not only look good, but also function well for their lifestyles.” From there, they nailed down their design style: woodsy, homey, parlor vibes paired with clean lines and a moody color palette.
“We had an immediate connection,” Jeff says. “Charity would give us a few options for everything – option A, option B – but for the most part we always went with option A because we were all so aligned.”
See the full tour below!
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt
The “bright-and-airy” aesthetic is popular these days, but Taylor and Jeff knew they wanted to go in a more comfortable direction, especially in the bedroom. “I’m not into anything sterile or super-modern,” says Taylor. “I like things to feel homey, and I like textures and colors that are more on the darker or deeper side.” The large space afforded them the ability to play with dark colors on the Belgian Flax Linen Bedding, the Cotton Luster Velvet Curtains and the green walls (the closest Sherwin-Williams color match is Isle of Pines SW 6461) without making the room feel small.
The Arne Bed with cozy leather cushions was an immediate favorite. “It’s the epitome of what we designed the room around – the leather, the dark wood,” Taylor says. “We knew we wanted that masculine, woodsy vibe, and then we saw this bed and we’re like, this is it.” The browns also tie in nicely with the Modernist Wood + Lacquer Nightstands, Dresser and the wood floors.
The main living area is 24 ft x 15 ft, which is huge by Manhattan standards, so they were able to carve out two separate rooms in the space: a living room and a library/office. The living room is a great place to relax with their dog, Parker, who just so happens to perfectly match their existing sectional. “We got her before the apartment was done, so she’s been a trooper as we’ve added all this furniture to this very open space, her playground,” Jeff jokes. A concrete Pottery Barn coffee table that Charity found for them mimics the grounded nature of the sofa and keeps everything balanced.
Library + Dining Room
The vision for the office was to create a homey library nook. “I work from home and I do a lot of filming and editing here, so having an office area was really important,” Taylor says. “Most people who live in New York City don’t have space for a desk in general, but with just three pieces, we’ve created what feels like an entire office.” All they needed was the Jensen Desk, the Cooper Mid-Century Office Chair and the Fulton Bookshelves.
The sunken living room with dark antique guardrails gives the apartment plenty of character and separates the office from the dining room. It also provided a great opportunity for Charity to mix metals and materials: glitzy brass, dark metals and down-to-earth textures like leather and dark wood. “I love brass, but sometimes it can trend on the side of glam, which is not what we were going for. We were trying to balance that out,” she says. In the dining room, she mixed the brass of the Gallery Frames and the legs of the Slope Leather Dining Chairs with the dark metals of the Cast Trestle Dining Table and the Trough Flushmount in Antique Bronze. Her best advice? “Mix metals right from the start, and don’t be afraid or feel like you can’t do it, especially in a larger space like this.”
Artwork by Richard Vergez
Jeff, Charity + Taylor
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt