“Raleigh is boring,” says the customized mirror in content creator Katelyn Sailor’s colorfully quirky New York City apartment. When the North Carolina native and her husband Kyle left Raleigh for New York City in the midst of the pandemic, they thought their time in Manhattan would be temporary. But once they arrived, the couple found themselves quickly falling in love with the city. “We got an Airbnb for two months, and one week into our stay, we were already looking at how to live here full-time,” Katelyn said.
Now, the couple is happily settled into their 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. “We were both working from home and had no reason to stay in North Carolina anymore,” Katelyn explained. “The city seemed like such a fun adventure and we wanted to take advantage of our current freedom!”
Read on for a glimpse into Katelyn’s vibrant city space, which is full of clever DIYs, funky decor, and renter-friendly upgrades that you can easily replicate in your own home.
Katelyn Sailor’s Colorful NYC Apartment Tour
Name: Katelyn Sailor
Location: Upper West Side, New York City
Square Footage: 1,100
Right now, you’re a full-time content creator. Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re enjoying about being self-employed!
After having a few different careers over the years, I am proud to say that I am a full-time content creator and I absolutely love it. It’s so fun to show my life and my creative side to others for a living, and I love working with brands I’ve used for years. It can be a little stressful being self-employed, and I’ve had to work to get over the anxiety of feeling like I could be constantly doing more, but it’s ultimately been worth it.
There are so many amazing DIYs and upgrades in your home. Have you always enjoyed making your spaces feel unique, or is this a newer passion?
I have definitely always enjoyed decorating my home. Growing up, my mom spent a lot of time making every apartment or house look and feel beautiful, so I got that from her for sure. She was always great at it, too.
How would you describe your interior style?
My style has changed so many times over the years, but right now, I would describe it as fun, modern, and girly.
Living with a partner requires some level of compromise when it comes to design. How do you and your husband work to make design decisions together?
I’m really lucky in this aspect. My husband lets me have full control over the pieces in our home. I think my current apartment would be too pink for a lot of people, but Kyle loves it!
Your coffee table is such a showstopper. What’s the story behind it?
I love my coffee table. It’s from Anthropologie, and it was a bit of a splurge at the time. The color is neutral, so I can use it even if my love of color changes, but the uniqueness of the shape makes it really fun.
What has been the biggest splurge in your space?
Probably my marble mantel, but it was well worth it.
Tell us more about your faux mantel and the rainbow-colored books inside of it. What inspired that project?
I’ve always loved the idea of having a mantel to decorate but never lived in a home that had a real one. I searched Facebook Marketplace for weeks to find the perfect mantel. When I finally found one I loved, I quickly realized the seller was the extremely talented Josh Young, the person who arguably made decorating a faux fireplace with books inside a thing! It’s a stunning, real marble mantel that I absolutely love.
I wanted to add some color to it and was inspired by Elsie Larson’s rainbow bookshelves. I scoured thrift stores and the $1 carts at locally owned bookstores for all the colors. Some are definitely harder to find than others, but I think the finished look is fun!
You’ve constructed a gorgeous gallery wall above your media stand. What are some of your favorite art pieces in your apartment?
The gallery wall above my media stand (that includes our Samsung Frame TV) is basically a travel wall showcasing a few of my favorite places my husband and I have visited. And I got them all on Etsy! I think people can be intimidated by art, but Etsy has such great prints that you can put in my favorite cheap Amazon frames with matting, and it ends up looking a lot more expensive than it is. Some you can even print out yourself for under $5!
Wallpapering your kitchen was another big undertaking that seemed to require lots of creativity and patience. What advice do you have for someone thinking about tackling a project like this?
Take your time and don’t stress! I know this is easier said than done, but it’s important to not get discouraged when things don’t look perfect or happen quickly. Decorating and home improvements take time—it’s taken me nearly two years to get just 75 percent of my small apartment to look the way I want it to.
Can you talk about the renter-friendly aspects of your DIY projects? How can one ensure that any DIYs can be undone when it’s time to move out?
I have tons of renter-friendly upgrades in my current apartment. One of the things that makes the biggest impact, in my opinion, is switching out builder-grade light fixtures. There are so many pretty light fixtures for decent prices out there if you take the time to look. I’ve also changed all the hardware in the kitchen and the faucets in both the kitchen and bathroom. Even the doorknobs got an upgrade to gorgeous crystal knobs. The most important thing is to keep all the original pieces in a safe place where they won’t get broken so you can switch everything back out when you move.
Tell us about the vibrant pillows and rug in your bedroom. What made you decide to decorate with bright colors in there?
When we moved to New York, we decided to rent our house in Raleigh furnished, so we didn’t come with much. I basically started fresh and really wanted a bright and fun living space that made me happy every time I walked into each room. I wanted my bedroom to feel calming but to share the vibe of the rest of the apartment, so I kept the bedding, walls, and furniture white then found euro shams I fell in love with from Laura Park Designs. The rug adds a few more colors, and I think it all goes together nicely.
Where do you like to shop for your home items? Any favorite resources in the city?
I shop all over for home decor. My go-tos are Anthropologie, Wayfair, Overstock, Target, West Elm, World Market, Amazon, and Etsy—all the popular ones. My favorite hidden gem is Scout Design Studio. They have such a beautiful and unique selection of items and the absolute best customer service. In the city, I love stopping by Johnathan Adler for inspiration, and there is a small shop called Happy Kangaroo in my neighborhood that has great finds.
What advice do you have for someone who may be nervous about incorporating bold patterns and colors into their space?
I promise you can add subtle color throughout your home without making it overwhelming. If you’re thinking about adding color, start with a few throw pillows that make you happy. Then, maybe some bright and colorful art on your walls!
Tell us a bit about your adorable Frenchie, Lou. Did she move to the city with you? Where is her favorite spot to hang out in the apartment?
My French Bulldog, Lou, is my best friend and has been for eight years now. If you watch her on my Instagram, you know she is hilarious and has so much personality. She makes me so happy and I love taking her anywhere with me as much as I can. She has a fluffy little bed in the living room where you can usually find her during the day while I work next to her.
In just two sentences, what advice do you have for someone moving to NYC for the first time?
Go explore, as much as you can. Pick a new neighborhood each weekend and spend the day walking around popping in and out of new spots!
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday in New York?
I love taking advantage of everything New York has to offer. My favorite kind of Saturday is when my husband has researched a new restaurant in a new neighborhood and we go and get to know the area. We love eating out and enjoying the level of food NYC has!