Clemence Poles and her partner used to think they'd never live in a newly renovated apartment, preferring the character that came with older homes. But after five years of living in a narrow railroad apartment, they decided they needed a change.
"We didn't realize how that would almost be a mindfuck in a weird way, being in such a narrow space," Poles says. "We would be watching TV and our feet would hit the TV. We also had a cockroach infestation, and it was a nightmare."
So Poles and her partner took the plunge, leaving their rent-stabilized (!) railroad apartment for a high-rise home — for the steep price of $3,150 a month. "I've never paid that much money for rent in my life," she says.
Still, the founder of cool girl recommendation site Passerbuys put her energy into making her apartment as far from cookie-cutter as possible. They exposed the raw wood of their kitchen counter, outfitted the living room with a custom couch, and decked out shelves with piles of books and art. "It's ultimately really great and comfortable, the opposite of what we had before," Poles says. "Whenever we go to this apartment, we feel like we kinda don't deserve it."
Get a sneak peek inside her apartment above, then read on to hear more about their apartment search.
How did you find the apartment?
We found it on Street Easy. What we did, which I think is a smart trick, was we looked for a place around December, because no one was moving around that time so places were cheaper. So there was no broker's fee, even though the options weren't that great. But that was our strategy around that. We also did a lot of filtering. We put "gym" into our filter search, since we . didn't want to go into an older building. Our last apartment, I was talking with the landlords every week because a new issue would arise.
But I'm assuming you had to pay a security deposit?
Yeah. One month. I feel like that's kind of the standard at any place though, you know, one-month deposit, yeah. But no broker's fee.
But the amenities make the rent worth it?
It's ridiculous. There's a pool, there's a sauna, a steam room, a gym. But it's weird; in every apartment I had in Europe we had a washer/dryer, but in New York it's crazy how that basic necessity of a washer/dryer is a luxury here.
What were you thinking about when you set up the apartment?
I remember initially, because we don't have that much space to work with, I wanted to put in shelves and cover the whole back wall with books, but when we looked into the cost, it was like, $300 to actually install the shelves. So we ended up getting these very narrow, low bookshelves from IKEA for $30 and it looks awesome.
Do you have any decorating rules or tips?
I went by what Marie Kondo said, where anything I don't really need I got rid of. I also accepted that I'm not going to have the place together instantly. Color coordinating your bookshelf I think helps. It makes it look less cluttered. I also like to expose more neutral books and kept the colorful books behind the couch, and so it doesn't look busy, I decant everything to make things a little more simplistic.
Did you get inspiration from anywhere?
I would like my place to look like Brancusi's studio, the sculptor. Also, my mom has definitely influenced me in terms of organization and keeping the place tidy and presentable. You know, if you have anyone over, your house needs to be nice and clean and you make sure that you have food for people.