How To Have A Better Apartment NOW: 3 Home Experts Dish

With constantly rotating sublets, a bedroom smaller than your cubicle, and (ugh!) roommates, it's difficult to make your New York City apartment feel like a home. But don't think you have to be Nicole Kidman in The Stepford Wives to pull it off. Nowadays, the term "housewife" doesn't need to mean pearls, updos, and aprons or, more recently, pearls, updos, and catfights. You can be married or not, working or not, have kids or not. It’s all about the idea of being able to take care of your digs in a way that makes you feel like, dare we say it, a domestic goddess. We asked three super-chic interior experts for their best advice, and they dished some must-bookmark tips, products, and rituals for making cramped apartments feel like real modern households (with style!). If this is the M.O. of the new "housewife," then count us in.
Read on for domestic tips from a renowned author, an Elle Decor editor, and home designer.
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ChristianeLemieux
Christiane Lemieux, designer and author, Undecorate.
Are there any domestic tips you would suggest for styling a space to feel more like a home?
"I think it’s the personal that makes a house a home. I love the heirloom things that people have mixed in with their furniture — celebrate the things that have history. Those are the pieces that make your home personal. To me, there is nothing worse than untouchable decorating lifted from a magazine or catalog. Decorate so that your kids can jump on the couch. Those are the memories you will cherish. Slipcovers are amazing for those early years! Save the expensive upholstery for a couple of years and enjoy it all."
What do you think is most important to remember, in terms of designing and decorating a space, when living with a significant other/and or children?
"Make it comfortable for everyone. Work with your significant other on the decor. There is always a great style compromise. When there are kids involved, avoid designing areas where they can’t go. The old notion of the 'sitting room' where kids were banned seems so antiquated. Trust me, if you don’t want them somewhere, that is the place they gravitate towards."
Do you have or suggest any weekly or monthly rituals in helping to keep a home feeling organized and fresh?
"I love fresh flowers — I do that when I remember. I try and stay on top of the toys but I am always moving furniture around. Little tweaks can make your space feel almost redecorated. I have my whole online Sunday ritual which includes groceries, drugstore, and upcoming events like gifts, dinner reservations, tickets to plays and museums. The web makes it easy to stay on top of these things!"
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Can you suggest any must-have products for keeping your home neat and clean?
"I swear by the Crypton cleaning products. They are expensive but I have used them to get red wine out of a cream rug and it has worked. They have given me the freedom to let the kids jump on the couch!"
Photos: Courtesy of Christiane Lemieux
liliDiallo
Lili Diallo, stylist and author, Details.
Are there any domestic tips you would suggest for styling a space to feel more like a home?
"I will say that organizing shelves throughout the house (either in the kitchen or living room) helps. It doesn't have to be over-styled — it still needs to be practical, real, and accessible — but just giving it a little thought and some love often has quite a big decorating impact."
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What do you think is most important to remember in terms of designing and decorating a space when living with a significant other/and or children?
"You want everyone in the home to feel comfortable. It might mean waiting for the kids to grow up to get that Parzinger coffee table you've been lusting after or getting one borderline-looking comfy armchair for the hubby. Just make sure you have somewhere in the house you could unleash your inner Draper or Baldwin. Basically the key to decorating a space you share with others is the trade off (and there's a whole art to it!). You get your comfy chair, I get to wallpaper the bedroom, you get to transform the closet into a shrine to your shoe collection, I get to transform the study into my man-cave."
Do you have or suggest any weekly or monthly rituals in helping to keep a home feeling organized and fresh?
"Fresh flowers every week is a must (you can find fresh tulips or Hydreangas almost everywhere now, even at your local deli or Trader Joe's) and reorganizing my closets every two weeks. It makes me happy and brings a very beautiful energy to the home."
Can you suggest any must-have products for keeping your home neat and clean?
"I will have to say Miele vacuum cleaner (little pricey but so worth it!) and Swifter dusters. Can't leave (or stay) home without them."
Photos: Courtesy of Lili Diallo
MiekeTenHave
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Mieke Ten Have, editor Elle Decor.
Are there any domestic tips you would suggest for styling a space to feel more like a home?
"I'm a big believer in surrounding yourself with the things you love — objects that are personal to you in some way or another. I think for a home to feel expressive of its owner it can't be too perfect or too edited. For instance, I love photos tucked helter skelter along the border of a mirror or leaning casually on a mantle, mingling with finer objets and art work as opposed to residing in a predictable frame. I think there needs to be an element of chaos — I always find that when I mix the things that appeal to me, even if their styles wildly vary, they always end up seeming cohesive and charming once paired. Design only with what you can't live without."
What do you think is most important to remember, in terms of designing and decorating a space, when living with a significant other/and or children?
"I think it requires a certain level of negotiation, most importantly recognizing that your relationship comes before a lot of the minutiae of decorating. Tyler and I are very fortunate in that we live very similarly — we share a certain aesthetic, collect antiques, hoard books, and are not afraid of piles (this could also be seen as our downfall). I think for most people, though, compromise is a very important skill to learn."
Do you have or suggest any weekly or monthly rituals in helping to keep a home feeling organized and fresh?
"We are both editors, and our hours can be long. We also are prone to hoarding. The last thing we want to do is clean and organize on a Saturday. Our weekly necessity is a cleaning lady. Embarrassing, but true. On the more domestic end of the spectrum, we go to the farmers' market every weekend and try and map out or meals by what looks good. I make a soup every Sunday which makes the perfect snack for the rest of the week, and we often roast a chicken or make a big stew that will last for several days. Having delicious, home made food in the fridge always makes a house feel like a home."
Can you suggest any must-have products for keeping your home neat and clean?
"Large wicker baskets by the front door or under a table in the foyer are indispensable for frequently worn shoes and boots. Make your "useless" things useful. All my empty Smythson and Ladurée boxes double as storage for unsightly hairbands, superfluous business cards, and general miscellany that I don't want to stare at every day, but can't seem to part with. Stacks of coffee table books make great side tables that are easily dismantled should you need to reference one. Georg Jensen's Alfredo glass and stainless steel storage canisters are a chic way of storing and adding some uniformity to the kitchen or bathroom. And — this is definitely not elegant, but we cook too much to skimp on practicality — lazy susans in the kitchen for organizing spices. For cleaning countertops I always buy Mrs. Meyer's lavender or lemon verbena all purpose cleaner. Last but certainly not least, Savon de Marseille remains the most effective soap I've ever met."
Photos: Courtesy of Mieke Ten Have
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