B&A: A Bland Buenos Aires Apartment’s Refresh Includes a Ping Pong Dining Table

B&A: A Bland Buenos Aires Apartment’s Refresh Includes a Ping Pong Dining Table

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When you are faced with renovating an apartment on a tight budget and only have about a week to do it, you ask your family for help, especially when they’re a designer! Musician Panda Elliot’s apartment was pretty bland before Natasha Elliot, an interior designer and the owner of Sentido José Ignacio, led the renovation. Since Panda didn’t have a ton of money left after purchasing the apartment, she was on a tight budget, and the refresh needed to go quickly: Natasha says they only had about one week to get it done!

“I was looking for a place in Palermo, an area in Buenos Aires with loads of restaurants, bars, near beautiful parks… I wanted to live in a neighborhood with a lively atmosphere where I had shops, supermarkets and friends and family at a walking distance,” Panda explains. “My older sister with her family live in a building in that area and suddenly the first floor was available for sale and I took the opportunity. Although it is a first floor, it has lots of light and the leaves of a beautiful tree right in front of my window. On the opposite side of the block I get to enjoy the beautiful view of a garden designed by famous Burle Marx. Having my nieces and nephews around sounded like a great idea, too!”

The kitchen got a huge face lift thanks to a lovely pink paint color splashed on the cabinets. Instead of a door closing off the space, a funky beaded curtain adds fun and a more airy look between the kitchen and living room. Panda says the new open kitchen makes cooking with friend even more enjoyable. A built-in shelf makeover in the living room gives the whole space a vibrant modern vibe thanks to green paint. While plenty of elements give the space a mature elegance, this is definitely the home of someone who doesn’t take design too seriously: A combination ping pong/pool tables used as a dining table transforms the living space into a playroom.

“I was also looking for a place I could call home,” Panda says. “That is why I was part of the renovating process and I kept things I treasure, like the two paintings on the living room wall, which belonged to my grandma.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Natasha – If we could chose only one word to define our style it would be eclectic. But certainly our style is based on the client. What is their own dream, how they want to live, their favorite colors, what inspires them. When artist Panda Elliot told us she had only a week to renovate her place, we knew it was tight, but we could make it. She came to us with a very tight budget so we spent most of the money on paint. She certainly wanted color, but wasn’t so convinced of the pink kitchen at first, however it ended up being her favorite room.

Inspiration: Panda – I am always inspired by art in all its forms and that influences my music, my style, my home, and my life.

Natasha – I am inspired by nature, by artists, by many travels around the world and their cultures, by books.

Favorite Home Element: Panda – The dining/pool/ping-pong table. It is fun, practical, and it also looks good in the apartment!

Biggest Challenge: Natasha – In this project time was a big challenge. We usually take more time to plan our home designs, but in this case, everything happened in a week.

Proudest DIY: Panda – The two glass coffee tables in the living room are certainly one of my fave DIYs. I took a picture of my eyes, I printed them and stuck them to the table glass. As a final touch I added LED lights underneath so at night when I invite friends over they look really cool.

Biggest Indulgence: Panda – My glass set for my daily whisky.

What’s your best home secret or advice? Natasha – My routine works when I split the house in different areas and clean each on a different day. My secret is vinegar: a great cleaner! And I am recently working on a homemade lavender antibacterial spray, which is great for surfaces and also all kinds of cloths: curtains, sofas, etc.

I think homes are made to be enjoyed. if a house looks too perfect sometimes it feels like it is missing life. I always use hangers inside kitchen cabinets to hang tea cups; it is a great way to organize and make the most of space. When shopping for tableware and utensils make sure they are pretty because they look great in open cabinets! Always have flowers and plants in your kitchen, candles in every room, blankets to relax on a sofa. Make every corner of the house an invitation to relax, play, laugh. A home has to be enjoyed with all of our senses.

What to people most get wrong about using color in their home? Natasha – In Argentina many people are afraid of using color, of mixing, and going for the unexpected. They prefer to stick to a white palette, which is great, but not for every space. Sometimes people think that adding a dark color might make spaces darker but in many cases it is the opposite. Color is life, it is vibration, it is personality.

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? Natasha – I think we chose colors because they represent images that make us feel good. Personally I love blue because it reminds me of the sea in Venezuela where I grew up. It brings to my mind beautiful skies. And I think there are no rules in matching as long as the combination looks good. Sometimes it is important to think what the focal point in a room is going to be… and, of course, there are patterns and textures that cannot be separated from color. You might choose only one color for a room but including several textures might make the room look very colorful instead of looking dull.

Favorite wall paint color of all time: Natasha – Wow, this is a hard question. I am used to mixing paintings myself and making my own colors. It totally depends on the house and its location, how much natural light every room has, I could go on. But if I get to choose only one, it would be “Hague Blue” from Farrow and Ball.

Thanks Panda and Natasha!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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A NYC Apartment Is Small, But This Renter Has Optimized Every Inch

A NYC Apartment Is Small, But This Renter Has Optimized Every Inch

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Name: Maggie Antalek and one roommate
Location: Lower East Side — New York, NY
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My name is Maggie, and I’m a creative director for an events company based in Greenwich Village. I am also an artist focusing mainly on watercolors! I moved from Astoria to the Lower East Side last year and have spent a lot of time making this spot feel like home with items I have collected from overseas trips, art I have made or purchased, and items I have thrifted or bought cheap to redo/DIY at home to make them work with my aesthetic.

I would say I have made my apartment look and feel like a fantastic home without the huge price tag. With a little work and creativity, anyone can do it! It’s a small space, but I have optimized every area for storage and adding shelving. I also have TONS of plants for aesthetic purposes, but also for air quality while we are now working from home.

What is your favorite room and why? My bedroom, for sure! My windows get the most amazing sunlight all day, and especially in the evenings. I am on the fifth floor with no tall building directly across the street so it’s bright and sunny in my room. I created a cozy nook with a reading chair near the window, a gallery wall of artwork that’s special to me, DIY pillowcases on my bed, and most importantly, I painted a mural on my large, plain white wall. [Since this house call’s publication, it looks like Maggie paints murals for others, too!]

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, bohemian, worldly, cozy, colorful

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I found an awesome storage ottoman to hold purses below my coat hangers! The perfect spot to perch to put on shoes before heading out the door.

Any advice for creating a home you love? STORAGE SPACE, COLLECTABLES, AND PLANTS! It’s so important to have ample storage so everything has a place and nothing becomes “clutter.” Collecting items like artwork, pillows, or rugs can add a sentimental value to your home and remind you of your experiences while enriching your space. Plants add color to your home even if you stick to neutrals, bring life into your space, and create an environment that is nurturing.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

B&A: This Blah Brownstone’s Joyful Update Has Wallpaper that Made Us Gasp

B&A: This Blah Brownstone’s Joyful Update Has Wallpaper that Made Us Gasp

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Name: Jill Porter and Steve Larson (plus two kids)
Location: Carroll Gardens — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 1,440 square feet
Years Lived In: 16 years, owned

When we purchased our apartment 16 years ago, we never thought we’d live here more than five years or so. The space was incredibly rational and neutral, lacking the pre-war detailing found in neighboring brownstones, or the quirks and idiosyncrasies found in older homes. Over the years, however, we’ve created a home that we adore, and it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else in Brooklyn! What the apartment lacks in original details, we made up for in our finishes and furnishings, as our furniture, art, and objects all feel deeply personal. They’ve not only been the backdrop to countless family get-togethers, birthday celebrations, and work-from-home Zoom calls, but spark memories of trips, adventures, and moments in time.

Unlike most new NYC apartments, our eat-in-kitchen is separate from the rest of the living spaces, so it doesn’t bleed into the rest of the apartment. I love having this separation, as being in the kitchen feels like a getaway from the rest of our space. When we recently renovated the kitchen, we kept the separation and opted to make the kitchen even smaller. By altering the layout, we traded free space for more efficient cabinetry. The end result is a kitchen that punches above its weight. It feels like a well-designed jewel box! Furthermore, the separate kitchen makes entertaining is a breeze. We host countless holiday and birthday celebrations and never feel overwhelmed by people, kids, or dogs. See more of Jill’s style on the Jill Porter Architect website.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Crisp, modern, joyful.

Inspiration: I’ve spent a lot of time in the painting studio, so I’m always inspired by art. 

Favorite Element: Light! With so many south- and west-facing windows, our apartment is awash in sunlight all year round. 

Biggest Challenge: Family living, with all its stray Legos, scraps of paper, and charging cables, can overwhelm a space, so we opted to add color and pattern to camouflage the way our family lives. Slick interiors are lovely, but incredibly unforgiving. Layering patterns and color enables us to truly live in our space without feeling like one out of place book or coffee cup will ruin the interior composition. 

Biggest Indulgence: Art! Buying art always feels like an indulgence, yet every piece brings me so much joy. 

Best Advice: When it comes to space and stuff, value quality over quantity. And if you think your stuff has reached a tipping point, give it a sense of order; repetition of anything can turn the ordinary into a design statement. 

What’s your best home secret? Our home is small, but well organized, so we know where to drop backpacks, shoes, and homework. There is a place for everything! With every project, I try to understand how clients move through their space and day—from when they enter the front door, to when they put their head on the pillow. If I create an interior that supports that script, there should be no misplaced keys, glasses, or dirty socks.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

A Colorful London Apartment Has the Cutest Pink and Green Kitchen

A Colorful London Apartment Has the Cutest Pink and Green Kitchen

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Name: Cal and Sarah, siblings behind Sascal Studio
Location: London, UK
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 854 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My sister and I live in this apartment in London. We are 25 and 28 and have our own start-up interior design studio and homeware shop, which we are in the process of launching. As we work from home, we wanted a space that was relaxed yet functional and filled with pieces we love. From the furniture to the art to the accessories, we have carefully chosen and collected items that reflect who we are.

As we only plan on living here for around five years, we wanted to do something fun with the interiors, and were not shy with color. One of our favorite items in the house is the green headboard in Sarah’s room; we wanted something completely unique so we painted it ourselves. Another favorite is the shelves we designed; they were installed right before quarantine—perfect timing!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, cozy, bright, playful, and layered

What is your favorite room and why? Our favorite room has got to be the open plan kitchen/dining/living room. We do everything in here from curling up on the big pink sofa to cooking our favorite meals and hosting friends and family! We didn’t want the space to be too precious; we wanted everyone to feel at home as soon as they walked in so we used colorful fabrics and two tone textures.

Our favorite fabric in this room is the amazing “Stardust” by De Le Cuona, which gives the room such a warmth. We have them over our large glass doors, so we wanted something that would allow for some privacy without being a heavy curtain. The fabric has a wonderful multi-colored pattern running throughout, which gives a burst of color in the room. We dreamt of having a pink room from when we were little girls and are so lucky we got to fulfill this dream with this room!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? We bought a lovely tapestry from a little shop in Portobello Market in London and stretched it over a huge canvas frame that we built. We had a big empty wall in our hallway for months and could not decide what to do and it feels like the perfect fit! The colors are vibrant and work beautifully against the dark green walls.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Fill your home with items that speak to you. Don’t be in a rush to fill it as soon as you move in; you’ll have pieces you love if you collect them along the way. Family heirlooms also make a space wonderfully familiar so don’t always feel you need to buy new items.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.