This NYC Apartment Is Proof That Cool Art Can Be Found At The Flea

Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
As the force behind the beloved blog Habitually Chic, Heather Clawson lives in a richly visual world. Between studying 19th-century painting, designing interiors in New York, hunting through flea markets, and logging frequent trips to France — and, of course, being all over Pinterest — she’s trained her eye on thousands upon thousands of images. For anyone into design, art, and travel (and who isn’t?), her site is the perfect daily fix.

We had to know how Clawson, who describes her own style as “unabashedly uptown,” actually lives and works. Our peek into her lovely apartment, located on the top floor of a tony uptown block, didn’t disappoint. It’s beautifully collected, totally respectful of tradition, and it moves to its own beat. There are tables made of books and antique silverware kept in mason jars. It leaves an impression that’s both rich and lighthearted, decadent and joyful. We couldn’t get enough (and want to copy everything).

Take a tour and spend time with the lovely Heather Clawson at home.
1 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Like so many other staunch New Yorkers, Clawson isn’t a native. She grew up outside of Pittsburgh, where, she says, “Andy Warhol is the hometown hero,” and was steeped in the stories of Warhol’s Factory and Studio 54 early on. New York seemed “mythical, glamorous, and full of opportunities.”
Advertisement
2 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
When Clawson arrived in New York nearly 15 years ago, she felt destined for the Upper East Side. Although “the cool kids have always lived downtown,” she loved uptown’s association with Truman Capote, his swans — Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill, C.Z. Guest — and the glamorous past. And the modern-day version might be even better. As Clawson puts it, “It’s still more polished and put-together, and so beautiful. It used to have a snotty rep, but I find it really inclusive and neighborhood-y.”

New Yorkers never waste space, even in a vast apartment. Clawson leaned a drawing on a blank bit of wall, creating a rich, layered effect.
3 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Already cultivating her design sense, she pored over House & Garden — during Anna Wintour’s stint there as editor — and accompanied her mother while she steamed wallpaper and hunted local flea markets.

As a die-hard collector, Clawson is one of those enviable people who seems to find gems wherever she goes. She buys great little paintings for a song or spots a lovely Wedgwood piece that someone overlooked. She believes in training your eye by looking at art and furnishings even when they’re out of your budget.

“Over time, you get a sense of why one gilt frame is better than another,” she says. “And then, you can spot the good stuff. With the amount of art I have, I could have gone much crazier in this apartment, but it’s important to leave some space for the eye to rest.”

Related: Your Ultimate Guide To Decorating With Mirrors
4 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
She does have a leg up on the art, having studied 18th- and 19th-century European art — including all those beloved Impressionists — and that’s where her taste tends to go.

Below her impressive pieces of art is her petite settee, perfectly situated in a nook she created by flanking bookshelves.
5 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Most of Clawson's art comes from flea markets. She keeps works in their original frames; if a work is simply painted on board, she will hang it as is or lean it on a shelf.
6 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Aside from art, Clawson collects furniture, as well. With her gift of arranging objects and no desire for a minimalist, streamlined look, her whole home feels like one big compilation.

“I definitely prefer interiors that look collected, rather than decorated. Everything in my apartment tells the story of where it’s from, even if it’s a $5 find at the flea market,” she says

Here, an Hermès bag perched on one of her French side chairs, which looks airy during the warm months and cozy in the winter. A useful find, indeed.
Advertisement
7 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
A chinoiserie vase, ornate gilt frame, and an intricately painted plate speak to Clawson's ability for bringing multiple finds together.
8 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Clawson's talents extend beyond collecting antiques, however.

Since founding her blog in 2007, following an early career working in commercial real estate and for interior designers, Clawson has continued to evolve her career. She stopped taking her own interior design clients a few years ago, when she began work on her first book.

Currently, she balances her time between creative inspiration — which could include a trip to the medieval Cloisters in the upper reaches of Manhattan — and execution. Along the way, she’s preparing to write her second book.

She tends to craft her blog posts first thing in the morning to give her readers something fresh when they begin their own days. “I love that my audience ranges from design-obsessed teenagers to lovely 80-year-old ladies.” There’s no typical day — after posting a piece, she may continue working, or zip out for meetings or a museum jaunt.
9 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Clawson's home office setup feels somewhat reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s in Sex and the City, which also overlooked the Upper East Side. Her office has the best windows in the apartment. “When I’m working, I like to feel like I’m not stuck inside,” Clawson says.

She loves having a proper office to keep her in a working frame of mind. At the same time, Clawson appreciates the ease of not having to actually commute to an office.

This all informs her personal style: “I’ve embraced having a uniform — though I do sometimes blog in my pajamas.” She spends a bit more on shoes, bags, and coats, since those are the most visible pieces when you’re walking around the city.
10 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
“Even though New York is a big city, it’s also a small town, for sure. You always run into someone you know.

“With the blog, there’s no separation between work and life. I’m always Instagramming and tweeting on vacation.”

With a whirlwind life like Clawson's, organization is key. This chic toast rack keeps her stationery and desk looking tidy.
11 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Clawson takes her organization to the next level by layering her books by color, adding depth and contrast instead of strictly color-coordinating.
Advertisement
12 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
The same mantra goes in the organization of her kitchen, as well. Chic details like a modernist coffee pot, Ladurée tea box, and gold-rimmed Champagne flutes fill one of her kitchen cupboards.
13 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Clawson keeps an open layout in her kitchen, but not by choice: “I had fallen so in love with the apartment’s south-facing windows and gorgeous light, I didn’t immediately notice the lack of kitchen drawers.”

This doesn't bother her, though — Clawson admits that she barely cooks: “I have more champagne in my fridge than I have food!” Sounds a bit like we have a Holly Golightly theme here.

But since she can order party-ready hors d’oeuvres from a spot around the corner, Clawson has taken to throwing cocktail parties — serving Champagne — rather than hosting sit-down dinners.

Related: Inside Designer Lela Rose’s Chic and Cozy Potluck Dinner
14 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Aisde from Champagne, Clawson has gin and Pellegrino on deck on this minibar. Little details, like this beautiful ashtray, makes this one handsome-looking bar.
15 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
After said parties and glasses of Champs, this is the best room in her house.

“If I’ve been traveling, I find it so comforting to come back to everything in its same place and sleep in my own bed,” says Clawson.

One long sojourn away happened last summer, when Clawson decided to decamp to Paris (trading New York takeout for food from Le Bon Marché’s famed La Grande Épicerie, which was dangerously close to her pied-à-terre). While she relished finally having time to see the smaller museums, become a flea market regular, and walk the city, she craved the routine and work ethic of New York.

You know what they say, there's no place like home.
16 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
Clawson is unabashedly into monogrammed linens. Amusingly, though, her sheets prompted one devout Habitually Chic reader to give her some love advice. “She wrote to me to say that, as a single person, I shouldn’t have monogrammed bed linens because it’s bad feng shui. I’ll report back!”

But how can you get rid of these beautiful blue sheets — especially next to these elegant white flowers and a stack of beautiful books?
Advertisement
17 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
This blue theme seems to extend everywhere in her home, seen in her collection of Wedgwood beside a blanc de chine lamp.
18 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Rodriguez/One Kings Lane.
And evidently, so does her love for monograms. Her blog’s name, Habitually Chic, has the same letters as her own initials. Very chic indeed.

Next: Meet the Chic French Visionary Behind Ladurée
Advertisement