In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial women. Today, 23-year-old Anh Nguyen shows off her travel-inspired home in the East Village.
After a lifetime spent moving — from Vietnam to India, back to Vietnam, and then to the United States — Anh Nguyen has become accustomed to making a home anywhere. "I don't have a home base, I don't have a childhood bedroom or anything," she says. "For me, anywhere I am, that’s home so I just want to make it as comfortable and joyful as possible. Everything I have with me at this moment is basically my entire life."
So when Nguyen moved with her boyfriend into their own one-bedroom East Village apartment, she decked it out with momentos collected through her life and travels. There's a photograph taken by her best friend, a hammock from her mother, and a vivid orange couch with a bit of history. "All the decorations that we have are very sentimental," she says. "My aesthetic changes every week anyway so I just buy things that I know will make me happy, and most things are either from our travels, or what friends have made."
Watch the video above to get a look into her sweet digs, then read on for more.
How did you find the apartment?
"Streeteasy. We had a small set of criteria: East Village only, under $3,000 (2,278.05), true 1-bedroom. I was refreshing it every half-hour, and we got super lucky because the second I saw the ad I was so close, I ran right over. There was an hour window between it being posted and me running over."
What was your first impression of the apartment?
"The first thing that drew me to this apartment was how much light it had in the pictures. That was one of my biggest criteria that I need to have a lot of windows. I can’t live in one of those New York City apartments that’s in the corner facing the back. It’s really big and the price is great but when I went to meet the landlord, because it’s a rent-stabiliaed building there were no in-between people and I just really hit it off with her. She’s an amazing person. Like we basically hung out for the entire hour talking about art while I waited for Ryan to come and see the apartment. And I think she kind of saw me as her daughter or something because her daughter actually lives below us and is about the same age. So I think it’s the first real estate experience in New York where I didn’t feel like I was getting scammed or ripped off or being treated in the typical way that you would be treated while renting an apartment in New York. "
So were there fees with the apartment when you moved in?
"Literally no fee. We just gave our security deposit and our first month. Best deal of the century."
Can you talk about where you normally find your home decor?
"For furniture, I used Facebook Marketplace a lot and for home decor, I try to go to vintage shops. One of my favourite ones is called City Opera and it’s sort of in Flatiron more on the east side. They have unique pieces for relatively cheap prices because everything is donated there. And definitely when we travel we try to get a lot, but I don't seek out pieces. I might see something as I'm walking and buy it."
What are your tips and tricks for shopping for furniture on FB Marketplace?
"You have to be patient. Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap or there. If you have some sort of reservation about a piece, I’m not 100% on it. I’d say don’t buy it. The right piece will come at the right time almost and I’ve found a lot of the times when I’ve waited a day or two I would find the perfect piece and when I rushed I’d end up giving it away or modifying it."
Tell us about some of the modifications you've made.
"The two big things we’ve modified are our dining table and our shelf that holds up our TV. The dining table, I got the piece to make it into a dining room table. It was a coffee table and we changed out the legs to make it a dining room table because I liked the length. For the TV shelf, that was a rushed decision. We just needed something to put our TV on and then I was like I can’t find a console that I like so let’s just go to Home Depot and buy these shelves you’d just put on the wall with the long beams and and we’ll put the shelves on. And they looked good but I was really bothered by it. So we took them down and then we put the two shelves together to make a stacked table. We just drilled them into each other and the legs we had from the coffee table we put those on and that’s our TV stand."