Before embarking on a search for her dream New York City apartment, actor Molly Bernard compiled a wish list. Light was a top priority, she decided, as was a one-and-a-half or two-bedroom space with enough room to grow a family. Other items included in-unit laundry, a dishwasher, and the sort of overall warmth and sense of safety that comes only from the experience of feeling truly at home. “What I ended up getting was a one-bedroom apartment with a fantastic view of the city—which was nowhere near my list of things,” she reveals with a laugh. “Laundry’s in the basement and I won’t be able to grow into this space when my partner and I decide to have kids, but for now,” she says, “it’s absolutely perfect.”
Molly, who shares the apartment with fiancée Hannah Lieberman and dog Henry, wasted no time transforming what she calls her “treehouse in the sky” into a bright and welcoming home, implementing changes that ranged from floors—original amber-toned wood was sanded to a neutral honey; patterned Dusen Dusen tile brought life to a once-uninspired kitchen—to living room ceiling. “It used to be blue,” she explains. “But I thought I’d warm it up with a little pink instead. The idea was for the space to feel colorful without overwhelming the senses.”
When it came to furnishings and decor, the actor turned to West Elm for cozy-chic pieces that included a compact swivel chair in the bedroom (“perfect for reading scripts,” she says), a midcentury-inspired statement sconce, and a custom chaise-sectional that’s since become a beloved staple. (Catch all the details on West Elm’s site.) “That couch, that beautiful L, it just ties the whole space together,” Molly says. “We love nothing more than inviting friends over for dinner, and then moving to the couch afterward and talking until the late hours. We do that almost every night.” (Ed note: Pre-quarantine, of course!)
Completing the look is a selection of accessories—lamps to vases, planters to picture frames, many of them also West Elm—that live alongside treasured books, mementos, and artwork, much of which was gifted or made by family and friends.
While the apartment may lack a few of the items from Molly’s original wish list, she reports that the most important—that all-encompassing sense of warmth—is ever-present. “Yesterday morning, when Hannah was still half asleep, she said something like, ‘Oh my gosh, this bedroom is so beautiful. We’re so lucky we get to wake up here every morning,’” the actor recalls. “It was such a sweet moment because I’m generally the one who’s obsessed with the house—but also because we are lucky. We really just love living here so much.”
🛠 Do It Yourself
Start with art. In the living room, Molly let a piece of statement artwork (by friend and fellow Clever home tour subject Ethan Cook guide her color palette and furnishing choices. “He brought it over the day I moved in,” Molly says, “and that ended up informing the design of the whole room.”
Get creative with color. Molly stuck to neutral tones when it came to larger pieces like her couch, credenza, and dining table, choosing to incorporate color in subtler doses instead: rainbow-hued books brighten the apartment’s built-in shelving; pink paint on the ceiling adds unexpected warmth overhead.
Look to the past. Meaningful hand-me-downs can help a house feel like home. In Molly’s case, artwork that once belonged to her grandparents—a framed Calder print, for example, and a painting of a boy holding a chicken—has found new life in her Brooklyn abode, adding a layer of personal history to the space, too.
Keep sleep simple. Take a tip from Molly and keep the design of your bedroom as calm and quiet as you can (think subdued colors, white bedding, and simple, unfussy accents). “I wanted to create an environment that was as conducive to sleep as possible,” she says.
🛍 Shop It Out
Zebra flat-weave rug by Cold Picnic, from $110, coldpicnic.com.
LED floor lamp by Bower, $399, westelm.com.
Protea canvas print by Upton, $165, whatsupton.com.
Andes Chaise Sectional by West Elm, from $3,098, westelm.com.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest