DIY CORNER: Decorating My First Grown-Ass Lady Apartment

I want this new place to reflect everything I’ve brought with me up until this point: the things I love, the people that inspire me, the art I’ve made, and the reasons I came to New York in the first place.
Publish date:
September 3, 2013
furniture, interior decorating, Fur, gabi's a weirdo, art is for everyone

I finally have a space of my own. It’s small, but not the mattress-in-the-closet sort of small. It’s cozy and idiosyncratic with its U-shaped architecture and oddly high ceilings. It’s my home.

Well, actually, it’s my very first home away from home. College doesn’t count as any sort of home, because, as far as I’m concerned, that was like an extended version of summer camp. Anywhere where you have to wear shower shoes and hide your liquor is NOT home.

So I wanted this new place to reflect everything I’ve brought with me up until this point: the things I love, the people that inspire me, the art I’ve made, and the reasons I came to New York in the first place. I wanted to create a space that was unique to me. Like the one-bedroom-version of a glass slipper.

Which is why I didn’t stress out over breaking the stickler rules of home décor. I didn’t frame everything I put up; some art was hung too high or too low. But I live to break the rules of the fascist DIY philosophy of perfection! People are going to get so cranky at that last line, aren’t they?

ANYWAY, here are some tips I gave myself before embarking on my decorating frenzy. Maybe some of them will work for you!

TIP 1: Add dimension.

First of all, all hail Stevie Nicks. This magnificent watercolor of her is worth my weight in gold. Metaphorically speaking, I GUESS.

I wanted to surround goddess Stevie with things that I can associate with her essence and spirit. Firstly, she is a queen, so I didn’t shy away from framing her in gold, Rococo-esque frame. Lady deserves it.

Next, she’s obviously a strong woman, so I proudly hung my Election 2012 vandalism poster up next to her. It’s only right.

Perhaps the donut and Eiffel Tower don’t quite mesh, but I justified it by thinking that she rocks out all over the world. And she probably has delicious food on tour. Plus, she would never shame me, or any woman, for loving delicious deep-fried foods. She’s a feminist goddess, remember?

I wanted this whole concept to have dimension, so I opted out of framing everything. I wanted some things to pop (like Stevie) and some things to delightfully bewilder (like the nailed-in donut coaster). I kind of color coded as well, keeping the pinks to the left and the blues to the right. I think the weird z shape makes it look like I created a Stevie Nicks country on my wall, which I enjoy.

Oh, and those twinkle lights? Bloody red and bad ass was the weirder, sexier way to go, don't you think?

TIP 2: Use unconventional materials.

I like mounting different art pieces using unconventional composition. I like to use weird materials to enhance the experience of looking at different art pieces.

My uncle is a fabulous painter. He makes these teeny landscapes that evoke eerie and ethereal tones. So I thought indiscernible furs would go nicely, as would a fairytale mirror.

I used some left over PVC to create an Edie Sedgwick and Marilyn Monroe tribute mural. The art comes from friends or family (though the Marilyn sketch on the far left is mine).

And what would my home even be WORTH without a Kurt Cobain shrine.

In high school, I used to think he spoke to me through the radio whenever he came on DC101—snug between some shitty Everclear song and Hoobastank. The nerve of those people.

Long (and somewhat psycho) story short, I made a shrine to Kurt Cobain on the back of my bedroom door, as my mom (a décor fascist, mind you) wouldn’t let me tape him to the wall.

Now, I can have all the shrines I want! And I choose to commemorate the man I thought sung to me through the radio. He got me through some times. In fact, that poster has survived getting taped up and torn down for some 8-odd years.

TIP 3: Honor your roots!

This little corner is all Catholicism and Boricua-ism. It’s self explanatory. That tiny picture up there on the right was taken at a childhood sleepover using my izone camera. REMEMBER THOSE? This all takes me back, which is important!

TIP 4: Don’t shy away from hanging your own art.

I’m really shy about displaying my own art. It’s not that I’m embarrassed—well, it’s that I’m embarrassed. I have so much self-doubt! I don’t want people internally guffawing when they leave my house! Or sneering that their kid could do a better job at it. But, none of my friends have kids, so there’s that working in my favor I guess.

I also don’t want people to think I’m tooting my own horn or fishing for compliments. I’m not! I just want to feel proud of myself for making things, because it makes me feel good to make things. So, display your sketches or doodles or weird vagina sculptures!

TIP 5: Use books as display art.

I like being well read--RECORD SCRATCH—I like seeming to be well read. So I celebrate my eccentric literature and art-book purchases by displaying them unabashedly. It’s pretty! And it hides the fact that I don’t have enough books to properly fill the bookshelf space! Thanks for that, Kindle.

So, what do you think? Would you adopt any of these tips, or do you loathe them with every fiber, etc? What little DIY hijinks are YOU up to in your décor these days?