I met Emily at an event hosted by Octavia & Brown, where we immediately connected over our shared love of interiors and design as well the challenges of being independent professionals. Emily is an interior designer, living and working in NYC and remotely in Houston, TX. She has a strong point of view keeping things classic, tasteful and smart. She's also extremely well mannered, with a kind spirit, not something that you see too often these days.
Emily has a great location on the Upper East Side, close to all of the compelling amenities including an easy walk to the the D&D building (score!). As is typical in New York, an affordable apartment in a great location means you have to compromise somewhere. In this apartment, the compromise is the size and while it is a little, it is mighty big on style. Emily has thoughtfully designed the space into 3 separate areas i living, dining and workspace - that are all very functional, making it comfortable and cozy, not crowded and confined. The larger room functioning as the livingroom/dining/work space is all designed in a warm color palette of off-whites, buttery yellows and rich oranges, complimented by deep cobalt blues. A common motif that is cleverly used throughout the space is the classic greek key design that adds an extra does of style to her chairs and couch. This tour has even sparked two ideas to bring into my own home. One being the brilliant use of those popular sea urchins, and the other has me thinking of a way to add dining moment in my living room.
Emily shares this home with her boyfriend Jonathan and their sweet, curious kitty Penelope. Jonathan is a musician with several guitars and their accompaniments (all the dreaded "gear"..) which all had to be integrated into the space. I completely understand the challenges of storing instruments and any cords or amps that go along with them. Luckily Jack has a closet.... Penelope is also the kind of cat that likes to find her way into and on top of anything. So Emily must be mindful in keeping she (Penelope) and her fragile items safe.
The last interesting design challenge that Emily had to work around is the apartment's railroad layout. Which situates the bedroom in the back with view's of the adjoining building's wall. There isn't much of any natural light in the space, so Emily decided to paint the room a deep blue-green that is surprisingly warm and very comforting. The deep walls highlight the integrity of the space, enhancing it's features rather than fighting against them.
Continue reading to learn more about Emily and this apartment below...
EMILY C BUTLER
325 SQ FT | 1 BDRM, 1 BTH | 4TH FLR WALK-UP | RAILROAD LAYOUT APARTMENT| LENOX HILL SECTION OF UPPER EAST SIDE, NY
Years lived in New York 3.5 yrs
Born in: Houston, TX | Grew up in: Somerset, KY
Occupation | Where do you work? Interior Designer + Decorator | Work from home and yes, it's harder than it sounds!
Where do you go to get work done? I have a desk layered behind my sofa. I keep my files, printer, and samples tucked away underneath for easy access. If I need to get out, it is nice to work from pretty spots like Haven's Kitchen for a change of scenery.
Years lived in this apartment: 2.5 yrs
Own / Rent: Rent
Why did you choose to live in this place? My friend learned her co-worker was giving up his rent stabilized one-bedroom, so I acted fast!
What were the major deciding factors? Because I was upgrading to a one-bedroom from a studio space and paying less money for it, it was a very clear decision for me.
What is your favorite thing about your apartment? My first apartment was a dark studio on a low floor, so I love that this apartment has two nice size windows in the main living space that bring in a lot of natural light.
What is your least favorite thing about the apartment? I only have one tiny closet that can't even fit a full size hanger. Sufficient storage is absolutely an issue with this apartment.
If you could buy this apartment, would you? I would love to actually. For being a small one bedroom, the apartment is a really functional space. With some storage/closet upgrades, this could be a really terrific apartment.
What would be one that that you could change to this apartment that you can't do now as a renter? Increase the amount of storage space.
If you owned this, what would you do differently? Increase the size of the existing closet and take it all the way to the ceiling to maximize storage, rework the kitchen and take the cabinetry all the way to the ceiling, create a small walk-in closet in the bedroom, where there unfortunately is no closet. The space generally needs some cosmetic upgrades, but it honestly is a great little one-bedroom, I lucked out.
What inspires you? I'm inspired by people who create real things - art, interiors, music - and really believe in those things. I started my career out in finance where I did a lot of Excel modeling. I didn't realize how frustrating it was to never create anything real until I finished my first interior design project and not only had something to show for it, but a happy client, too.
What or will be your biggest indulgence? My hope is it will be an apartment or home I own some day! I am itching for more space.
What would you call your decorating style? How would you describe it? To borrow Katie Armour's phrase: Neo Traditional. I love modern twists on the classics, plus a healthy does of pattern + color when it make sense.
How have you decorated - on your one, with hand me downs, hired a decorator/designer? Lucky for me, I come from several generations of stylish women who just naturally know how to design and decorate. I've inherited many family heirlooms from my mom and grandmother that I've slowly updated with new fabrics/trims over the years, collected vintage finds in my travels, and also mixed in some more modern pieces. I love having a little history around, even if it isn't all mine.
How did you think up the antler tie backs? My parents came for a visit when I first moved in and while I can't remember exactly how they came about, I am almost positive it was a collaborative idea with my dad. I hardly had any surface areas in that first apartment (you know, for deer shed decorating) and I think he had the idea (and elbow) to drill through them and mount them as tie backs.
What do you like about your neighborhood? Wonderful proximity to the D&D and the majority of my Manhattan clients.
Any favorite stores or restaurants in the neighborhood? JG Melon for burgers, Maison Kayser for a sweet treat, and great shopping along Madison. What I really love about living uptown is proximity to so many museums.
Coffee or Tea: Chemex and French Press, I love both
Dishwasher or hand wash: Hand wash, and I hate it.
Vacuum: Dirt Devil, nothing faaancy!
Do you buy fresh flowers? Sometimes! I more often buy plants - herbs and succulents are my favorite things to buy.
Do you cook at home? Eat out? How often? I cook probably 5 nights a week and make many of my lunches at home, too. While I love my apartment, there aren't that many compelling dining options in the neighborhood, so I am more inclined to go the grocery store than I am to eat out.
Bake? More cooking than baking.
How often do you entertain? I used to entertain a lot, but New York can be hard for that. I would say once a quarter is about right, although I wish it was more.
I saw that you have a record player, which is so unique and great. What's your favorite record for cleaning, for cooking, for entertaining (if it's not the same!) I love to mix it up, but it's always fun to pull out all the girls (Carole King, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, etc.) and load them up on the party arm.
Pets? If so, do you let them on the furniture? Sleep in your bed? Yes! I have a Maine Coon cat named Penelope. It's Penelope's world, so I am ok with her curling up in her special spots, even though it is on the furniture. I am usually able to keep a reasonable handle on the fur by vacuuming regularly and keeping her brushed.
Because you're a designer...
How would you describe your dream client and/or project? I actually think I have some dream clients and projects in the works right now. I've had a very lucky start getting to work with some young families who have been really receptive to ideas and change and it has been really thrilling growing with them, making their homes not only more livable but spaces they are proud to share with family and friends.
What is your proudest project? This is a tough one. I'm really hard on myself and am really trying to learn, learn, learn and get better at what I do. I think my Proudest project has to be a work in progress, something coming up, on the tip of my tongue!
If you could have your dream home in the Tri-State area where would it be, what would it be, and how would you decorate it? It's definitely upstate, probably understated. It has big windows, painted floors, and at least two porches. It's filled with antiques, pretty patterned textiles, and collections of this and that. I imagine it to be welcoming, cozy, and just right.
I hope you enjoyed this tour and if you'd like to learn more about Emily and services please visit her website or follow her on Instagram & Twitter.