how to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentBlogging about apartment updates have always been some of my favorite blog posts to write. Since I moved to NYC last year I’ve shared the makeover of my (tiny!) closet, shared the transformation of my (also tiny!) bedroom, and blogged the reveal of my (huge!) gallery wall in the main living space. Today, I’m excited to share the final reveal – the main living space. Click through after the jump to see how to decorate an NYC brownstone apartment, join me in a walk through each part of the space and read how we navigated the NYC rental market for the first time!

how to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentDon’t believe the apartments you see all those millennials living in when you watch glossy American rom-coms and sitcoms! Those vast lofts are few and far between even if you have several million in the bank. Still, I was determined to find a place with charm and character for my heart mate and I to live in. I remember that we were sitting in my old home office back in London one night when we saw a bunch of potential properties on the rental market. If I had learned one thing from my NYC dwelling friends over the years, it was that you had to act fast when you saw something you liked in Manhattan. So, I used my air miles to buy a ticket to fly from London to NYC the very next morning and I had three days to find and sign a place, while Facetiming my heart mate who was at his office back in the UK! Add in the fact that all my credit history I’d built up in the UK counted for nothing here, it was like trying to find and sign an apartment suitable for two almost thirty year old men with the credit score of a college kid – yikes! Essentially, the pool of available properties (read: landlords that would even give us the time of day) was, um, somewhat dry. Still, we took it in our stride and after literally begging the broker to let us see this brownstone apartment, we managed to jump through the necessary hoops to secure it. Sources: Sofa | Vintage pillow | Stripe pillow | Coffee table | Rug | Armchair | Blinds | Desk | Chair | Lamp | Vase | Arthow to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentThis open-plan space had to allow for living, working, eating and dressing (yep, my closet is in this space behind that mirrored door). This corner by the closet was ‘dead’ space for a few months but eventually we decided to turn it into a small dining area. Adding a mirrored door to the closet really helped bounce light into this part of the space, and so it went from being an empty area to one of my favorite places to be in the apartment. Sources: Dining table | Dining chairs | Custom bench | Arthow to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentGah! I love this custom bench – the indigo color feels quite timeless and compliments the exposed bricks wonderfully. Plus, it’s a nice introduction of upholstery to contrast with the grey fabric of the sofa. Sources: Typographic pillow | Sand pillow | Vintage pillow | Sofa | Vintage fabrichow to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentOnto my office space and this beautiful campaign desk. The moment I saw the oversized table lamp in the Anthropologie sale, I knew it was the ideal piece for my desk. As my desk was in the open-plan living area I liked how the oversized lamp became the statement piece on the desk and in turn detracting visual attention away from the Mac. Sources: Desk | Chair | Lamp | Vasehow to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentMy design direction for this apartment is my most traditional to date but I really like how the pieces feel in the space. There’s a comforting, welcoming and cozy feel evoked by bringing these pieces together, especially when foiled by the exposed brick to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentThe three large windows along one side of the living space helped flood the room with light, and I knew before I brought a single piece of furniture into the space that I wanted to have a reading chair by one of them. The vintage painting I bought from Etsy is the perfect partner for the armchair, and I love how the window treatments add color and pattern to the walls. Sources: Blinds | Vintage painting | Vintage measuring stick | Side table | Rug | Armchair | Pillow | Media unit | Lamp | Navy arthow to decorate an nyc brownstone apartmentThis pair of pictures shows how the two facing brick walls are quite heavy – this was the main driver behind hanging large scale pieces of art in a white and navy palette as a way to soften their dominance of the space. Hands down, one of my favorite parts of this apartment is the open fire. Even when we first moved and had literally zero furniture (we sold all of our furniture in London before moving to NYC and came only with suitcases and a few boxes of personal belongings, books etc. that arrived two months later via boat), we would sit on the floor eating takeaway pizza in front of the open fire. I grew up with an open fire in my childhood home so it felt comforting; it felt like home. Still, with so little time to find our first apartment in the city, and with all the complications that came with being first time renters in America, there were a number of things about the apartment that we found frustrating. So, we decided to move when our lease was up for renewal and I’m thrilled that we have found our second NYC rental! I can’t wait to share the new space with you all, but for now consider this post the swan song to #BBbrownstone! What do you like about the space? Have you ever decorated around exposed bricks?how to decorate an nyc brownstone apartment // Photography by Will Taylor


Will Taylor

Will lives in NYC and is an interior design author and content creator. He's been blogging about his love of design, style and travel since 2009. His #MakeYouSmileStyle approach to decorating and dressing has inspired over one million Instagram uploads to the hashtag from followers across the world.


  1. Will! This space is so completely amazing! Can’t wait to see how you will transform your new place – sending you good vibes for the next move!

  2. An open fire is my dream man! This looks like the perfect NYC home. One day!

  3. Leigh-Anne Reply

    Love your home tour posts!! My bf was pushing for that gray couch when we were shopping for a new one but we went for a different couch…I don’t remember the name..? but now I wish we had chosen this one! 😉 xo

  4. This is amazing, Will! You did such a great job of creating a cohesive and cozy space – the blue and white makes it feel fresh and modern, while the bricks, fireplace, and the way you arranged the furniture keep it feeling cozy and warm. I really like that you put a bench at the dining table, and the custom shades are perfect for the windows. Also can’t get over how high the ceilings are…but so excited for you guys and your move! Can’t wait to see what the next space is like.

    • @Jackie – Yay! So happy you like it. Aren’t those custom shades just perfect? They were the perfect way to add some warmth to that side of the room. The ceilings were sooooo high!

  5. Some of the most interesting and beautiful spaces I have ever seen are products of the effort to deal with miniscule N.Y.C. apartments. Yours is no exception. I think the difficulties somehow spark the creativity that most us don’t even realize we have. I was once privileged to visit the apartment of an antiques dealer who had recreated the most perfect Parisian pied-a-terre in barely 500 sq.ft. It was filled with color and light and utterly exquisite yet practical and livable. And no designer other than the occupant was involved. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

  6. I love the blueish feel of the apartment! It gives the fresh air, especially when you live in NYC. Thanks for sharing Will 🙂

  7. That looks amazing! I love how you put the shoes in that pic and it looks so natural but whenever I try to bring extra elements in my pics it looks awkward! The sofa looks so homely and inviting and love that whale on the table! An old favorite is your painting with Toby 🙂

  8. So beautifully decorated Will! Love all the blue accents, and the modern yet warm and inviting style! What a wonderful space! Congratulations on your beautiful new home!

    • @Maritere – I love that you described it as being warm despite the blue as that was the feeling I hoped to evoke. Yay! Thank you! 🙂

  9. Will, I absolutely love what you’ve done with this room. You have the most amazing vision and such a wonderful ability to really pull a space together. I can’t believe you’re moving and have to leave this beautiful little home behind. Good luck in your next adventure.

    • @Stacey – Really kind of you to say that, thank you! It was hard in some ways to say goodbye but there were quite a few practical problems with the apartment throughout the year. As we had more time to hunt this year (being based in the city) we were able to really explore and (fingers crossed!) find a place that ticked more boxes. Hope you are the family are well! 🙂

  10. WOW. What part of NYC were you able to find a working fireplace in?

  11. This space looks fantastic but I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with your new apartment too:)

  12. You done such an amazing job with a super small space! On your pictures the apartment looks ‘normal’ sized, can’t wait to see what you will do with your new pad. I must say I went way more classic and monochrome decorating my new house as well maybe it’s an age thing ? Was wondering what are the rules for decorating a rental in NY? Are they as strict as the London ones? As in no holes in walls, everything back to original colours when moving out etc?

    • @Hester – Really kind of you to say, thanks! It was a challenge to decorate the small space but a fun one. Landlords tend to be more flexible here, some even let you paint and wallpaper. That said, ours wouldn’t let us paint but would let us hang art.

  13. Will, this is GORGEOUS! So you but also quite unexpected at the same time with how traditional it is. I adore it. Can’t wait to see what you do with your next New York home!

    p.s. You know you’re a real New Yorker when you move apartments every year xo!

    • @Kelly – Definitely my most traditional space to date! Thanks for the kind words and can’t wait to share my new space! Hugs to PS! xo

  14. Oh gosh, this looks drop dead gorgeous!! It’s so beautiful, and cosy too! It makes you want to snuggle up in your sofa and read your book. 🙂 Although it seems tiny, it definitely looks airy and bright. Great job on decorating the place, but I know you’re so great at pulling a place together. Sending you warm wishes & the best of luck on the move to your second rental place! Cannot wait to see how you’ll decorate your next space. I’m sure it will look just wonderful and pretty.
    Hugs, Inge

  15. You’ve done a brilliant job Will. It looks so light and fresh despite the brick wall. I know how much you wanted to paint it but it actually give a lot of character to the space. Love the open fire too. I can just imagine you two cosying up there. xx

  16. Oh I just love it – it’s so soft and cozy and I love all your touches of trademark blue and watery shades that really make it so personal and unique. I totally want to curl up in front of that fireplace!! Can’t believe you’re tearing yourself away from such an amazing space (that brick wall!! those windows!! that beautiful wood floor!!) so your next place must really be a stunner! Can’t wait to see what magic you bring to that one too 😉 xxx

    • @Kimberly – Ahhh, thanks so much lovely! The windows were one of my favourite parts of the space so I love that you mentioned those. It was a fantastic apartment but let’s just say there’s a reason the ‘kitchen’ (that’s generous to call it that!) and bathroom aren’t in this post… 😉 hahaha! xx

  17. I’ve always wanted a place with exposed bricks (always thought it was visually striking) but alas, their not common where I live and they usually are large lofts that are expensive. What you did with the place is gorgeous. You know I love design and I’m filled with ideas for my own place but I lack the courage to spend time on making it special and well, I’m a procrastinator. I’ve owned a condo for 5 years and only painted 2 rooms and really only made my bedroom special (and it’s not even finished yet). I really need to do something about this!

  18. Firstly, I’m a huge fan! Instagram, stories, vulnerability, everything. Second I’m so happy you show people that making your home beautiful and yours is so important, even though in this case it happens to be a rental/temporary. It doesn’t matter! As a designer myself, I too am aware how much a well designed space affects your psychology, well-being, and life. Keep being your authentic self, I’m so proud of what your doing and your steady success. You go boy!

  19. Amazing Will! Gorgeous, I adore the colors, the light, the textures. So homey and stylish. Thanks for sharing your personal space.

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  21. Such beautiful photos and inspiration. Thanks for sharing. I just bought a loft style townhouse with 17 foot ceilings, yikes! Love the exposed brick and it was what attracted me to the property. I painted the remaining walls Benjamin Moore bridal pink. Somewhat ironic for a bachelorette pad. Lots of fur, gold and blush pink. Placed a large white paper maiche stag on the brick. Displayed a vintage stateroom sign affectionately titled love shack near the front door. My best purchase is a hand painted plate by French fashion designer, Lete that I plan on displaying in dining room area. It says bonjour Cherie meaning hello darling in French and what my beloved grandmother always called me.

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  23. I love this, so bright and is a more upscale ocean look. I like the blue chair. Too many “light” designed rooms in magazines have white furniture which isn’t realistic for people with kids.

  24. Austin Sizemore Reply

    Where did the picture of you guys on your desk come from? It looks like a drawn rendering from an actual photo.

  25. This is such an inspiring space! I am looking to make my own Roman shades using RA fabric. Did you have yours custom made or did you do it yourself?

  26. So beautifully decorated, Will! Love all the blue accents, and the modern yet warm and inviting style of you! What a wonderful space! Congratulations on your beautiful new home! Thanks for sharing!

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Hey, I'm Will

Welcome to Bright.Bazaar, my make-you-smile style corner of the internet. I’ve been sharing my love of beautiful design, feel-good homes, everyday style, inspiring travel and, pretty much everything in between, since 2009. As well as working as a content creator, I write interior design books and edit a bi-weekly e-newsletter called Smile Mail. I live in New York City with my heartmate and can often be found listening to Madonna’s Confessions album and dreaming up my next home renovation project.