In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers. Today, 34-year-old Megan West shows us around her Carroll Gardens one-bedroom apartment.
When you grow up with parents who made a side hustle out of renovating fix-me-ups, it makes sense that interior design is just built into your blood. "I feel like I grew up in Home Depot, you know?" associate creative director Megan West said. "I was picking out siding and wallpapers and things like that."
So when Megan was finally able to get her own place without roommates, she knew exactly what she wanted to do, filling the kitchen with plants to remind her of her Floridian childhood while keeping the bedroom minimal and pristine. "I was excited to be able to live alone after almost ten years in New York with roommates," Megan said. "I felt like it was a special experience decorating my apartment with my own point of view."
Watch the video above to hear about how she laid out her space and how she met her boyfriend in the neighborhood. Then read ahead to see where she gets her inspiration, and how exactly she found her cozy #megnest.
So this is your first apartment without any roommates! How did you plan for that transition?
"I knew I wanted to live alone, so I started looking a year before I moved, just to see what market value was for the areas I wanted to live. Then, I started saving that extra amount of money I'd be spending on rent to make sure I didn’t have to make any lifestyle adjustments. So by the time I found my current apartment, I knew it was a good deal."
What made you want to move into your own space?
"I paint on the side, so I was looking to get studio space. But when you look at all the bills that come with it, it felt like having a spacious one-bedroom in the apartment would be worth it. So this apartment is a little bit more than I anticipated on spending, but it's still cheaper than getting a separate studio space. I've created a little art nook, and it's become my sanctuary."
What have you learned about yourself, having lived alone this past year?
"I'm a huge homebody, and that's why living alone is worth it to me. I'm actually home on the weekends, and I'd much rather invite people over and cook dinner for them. I think living alone also builds character. You're navigating through different things and making decisions on your own, and that was something I wanted to be able to do.
"I'm really lucky that I had the means to save money in order to live alone. I lived with roommates for the better part of my 30 years, so this helped make me feel like I was making more financially sound decisions. Obviously I aspire to have a mortgage one day, but this is the now."
Can you talk about your thought process behind decorating your place?"
"It's a really exciting experience to not have to compromise and decorate it exactly I want. That being said, it's definitely a process. I live within my means, so I try to acquire things very thoughtfully. I'll leave a wall blank until I find pieces that I feel are meaningful for me, instead of just putting something up temporarily. I've been able to acquire a lot of my favourite pieces for less by shopping second-hand or vintage on Craigslist or eBay."
Where do you get your inspiration?
"I'm still sort of old-school in a way because I create mood boards, digital and physical. I love museums. My inspiration isn't so on the nose, but I'll look at a painting and I'll think wow, I really love fire engine red paired with pale pink, and that can inspire the pillows I buy for my couch or something like that. I'll also find artwork and inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. Right now I'm following @consortdesign, a friend's design company that's always ahead of the curve, @kateberryberry, a former coworker who has an incredible eye for all things style, @oldnymag, @zanzaneyewear, and @jimmymarble, a photographer who has an amazing playful sense and bold use of colour."
Where do you shop?
"I'll look to Adaptations in Greenpoint and Porter James. They go to a lot of estate sales and and fine one-of-a-kind vintage items that will add dimension to any apartment outside of the West Elm, Ikea regulars. Consort is a huge one right now for me; a really good friend of mine started it. They just have an incredible eye and I always love just seeing the way they put together things even in store, and for their clients."
Who has taught you the most about interior design?
"It's just more of like being around it so much growing up. My mom is really good at incorporating textures and making things feel three dimensional, and looking at colour palates and extracting weird colour combos that you wouldn't normally do."
How do you stay organized in such a small space?
"I'm not a big piler, but if I do they're somewhat in like or in organized fashion, within the space they should be. I just grew up with parents who instilled the thought that the things you have in your life are valuable. You shouldn’t be throwing them on the floor. So that just carried into adulthood for me. I like to unpack as soon as I get home from a trip."
What do you want in your next apartment?
I mean, I am pretty lucky. I guess it would be amazing to have a bathtub; I've never actually lived in an apartment in New York where I could take a bath."
But not more space?
"No, it's just enough space for me, and it's inspiring to have that after so many years of not."