Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Just when you think you’ve got your place decorated, you are faced with the greatest design challenge of all: baby’s arrival. Making a home baby-friendly is not just about installing cabinet locks and wall anchors. It also means reassessing your existing furniture choices (prioritizing safety) while incorporating your new baby stuff in a way that doesn’t make your living room feel like the inside of a preschool.
Of course, I’ve made a few unstylish choices for the sake of our comfort or convenience (hello: jumperoo in my living room). Ceding some territory to your baby is unavoidable, but here are some of my favorite baby-friendly options for the style conscious:
Rethinking the Layout Many New Yorkers do not have the option of turning a spare bedroom into a nursery. In some larger one bedroom apartments, a dedicated baby space can be temporarily and inexpensively carved out, usually without the need for extensive building approvals. Temporary wall companies can install a pressurized wall and your choice of door in a matter of hours. These are just like ordinary walls -- drywall attached to wood studs/frame -- but the frame is held in place using pressure against the floor and ceiling rather than screws and nails. Most buildings will not consider this to be an alteration -- in those buildings, as long as you use a company that is reputable and insured, you simply inform management and then schedule the installation. If you’re in a rental, you should always check with your landlord beforehand to be safe.
I wanted a nursery that was suitable for a newborn as well as a toddler or older kid. For visual impact we installed a wallpaper mural -- ours looks like a scene right out of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Wallpaper murals can be cartoon-y but some vendors -- like Rebel Walls (which we used), Society 6, Anewal, and Anthropologie -- offer some great options that are more artistic. For only a few hundred dollars, we styled Teddy’s nursery with a beautiful wall mural, whereas a custom wall painting would have cost us thousands of dollars.
For flooring, carpet is king. Wall-to-wall carpeting has come a long way from the 80s rec room, but it can be costly. For a more budget-friendly option, Flor floor tiles can be cut to fit the space and are easy to install and customize. A big benefit to these is that each tile can be washed, or in the case of more serious stains, cheaply replaced. We ended up going for an even more cost-effective option as our room is almost exactly the size of a standard 8x10 rug -- a thick (¾” rug pad) topped with a stain-resistant rug from Overstock.
For a dresser/changing table, we went with the Keekaroo Peanut Changer, which can be wiped down rather than washed in the laundry. We keep the Changer atop a dresser we already owned instead of buying a dedicated changing table.
was hesitant at first, but the final piece of our nursery which we couldn’t live without is the glider/recliner. There are sleeker options out there, but comfort should take precedence over style here.
The Rest of the House Pre-baby, we had a sleek Platner coffee table, but a thick glass sheet on top of a crown of spikes is not exactly baby-friendly. After searching for a safer table that was affordable, stylish enough to work for a few years, I decided to go in a different direction and just get an activity table. We chose this unobtrusive black and birch table with a chalkboard surface. Its rounded edges are great for Teddy, and it doesn’t scream “kid’s table.” In our dining room, we opted for the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair in a neutral gray-wash, which looks modern and tucks under the table like a regular chair.
While much of baby-proofing (like outlet covers and corner protectors) is not terribly fun or exciting, overall I’ve enjoyed adapting my home. If you have any other ideas or suggestions that you’ve found worked for you, please share them! I’m always looking for innovative design ideas that evolve with our changing lives.
Carnegie Hill is a small section of the Upper East Side with a history of rich culture, architecture, and residents. Home to Museum mile, world-renowned museums such as the MET and the Guggenheim set the standard for the luxurious history and feel of the 12 x 4 block neighborhood. Named after the mansion that Andrew Carnegie built on 91st Street and 5th Avenue (which is now the Cooper Hewitt Museum), other wealthy residents followed suit and their lifestyle survives through the apartments available in the area -- today, Carnegie Hill is full of white-glove co-ops and grand brownstones with beautifully manicured stoops that line the park and surrounding streets. Here are some of the Team’s top picks in the neighborhood for fine dining and museum visits among other can’t-miss stops in the neighborhood.
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Talk about a possible recession has been swirling for months, and the market has taken a hit in anticipation. While no one has a crystal ball, the consensus is that we are probably due for a recession, but it is unlikely to be as catastrophic as 2008-09. While no one can say exactly when the recession will hit (many speculate it will be around election time), the NYC housing market has been trending downward due to tax law changes that have limited certain homeowner deductions as well as hesitation on the part of buyers who are waiting for the “bottom.” Our clients across the real estate spectrum have been asking our advice on how to weather (or capitalize) on these economic conditions:
Sellers need to understand that pricing is key. Accurate and strategic pricing is important no matter the economic climate, but with current conditions the margin for error is razor-thin. Traffic is down overall, and only properties perceived as “deals” or having good value are having any traction. Another piece of advice we’ve been telling our clients is to be patient. Even very hot properties that would typically be snatched up in a week or two are taking longer than anticipated, and with fewer offers. For less hot properties, the time to contract is even more protracted. In some cases, properties that languish on market end up selling for prices that are way below initial asking, while others do sell at the expected prices, but after months on the market instead of weeks.
Buyers, it is your time to shine! Interest rates are at all-time lows and prices are about 10-13% lower than in previous years (and more for condos over $3M). That said, we are seeing some herd mentality on the part of many buyers who are sitting on the sidelines rather than capitalizing on these opportunities. While no one can predict when the “bottom” will come, even if things get a bit worse before they get better, pricing has already largely adjusted in anticipation of the recession and other factors, and there are risks (like rates or lending standards or increased competition) for buyers who wait to see if prices will drop a few extra percentage points. Remember, you only know you hit the bottom when things turn back up.
Renters are facing tough times as rental prices hit an all time high last quarter in all boroughs. For renters who have the means to consider buying, there are deals out there and opportunities to lower your monthly costs through purchasing. For some renters, there may be unique residences available to rent for a couple years as owners are delaying selling, but otherwise, it is mostly good news for landlords.
For everyone in NYC, it’s important to keep in mind that the market here is resilient -- even in the middle of the last recession, prices in NYC remained fairly strong when prices nationally plummeted and foreclosures ruled the day. From Q4 2008 to Q4 2009, the median condo sale price fell 11.7%, but co-ops only fell 6.7%, and both began to correct fairly quickly in 2010 and soon exceeded pre-recession levels. If you have any questions about how to navigate the current market, please don’t hesitate to reach out.