Nikki Rappaport’s D.C. Studio Home Tour

Let us count the ways in which blogger Nikki Rappaport is an honorary Everygirl:
1. She decorated a 450-square-foot apartment on a budget with heaps of bright orange and pink.
2. She named her KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ruby.
3. She eats Cupcakes for Breakfast (so many, in fact, that she named her blog just that).

Nikki’s D.C. studio inspired us to think, well, inside the box. Complete with the classics (think: Parsons desk and Ikea Expedit bookshelves) and the atypical (see the entry wall dressed entirely in magazine tear-outs), we immediately fall head over heels for Nikki’s space and have an inkling you’ll feel the same way.

Name: Nikki Rappaport
Age: 25
Current Title/Company: Senior Assistant Director for Enrollment Marketing in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the George Washington University
Educational Background: B.A. in Journalism at the George Washington University
Year you started your blog: May 2009

What was your first job out of school, and how did you land it?
My first job after graduation was as a New Project Assistant at GW where I worked on the development of new marketing initiatives in several areas of the University, including athletics, admissions, and licensing and trademarks. I was the editor of GW’s yearbook, and I was lucky enough to find a great mentor in our yearbook adviser, who also oversaw a really creative office on campus. A new position opened up right after I finished the yearbook, and I’ve stayed at GW since.

What did you take away from working at House Beautiful? Did your work there help you at all in designing your own space?
The summer after my junior year, I landed a dream editorial internship at House Beautiful. I learned so much about choosing the right products to feature in the magazine, but I guess at the time I had no idea that would help me with my future blog. Yes, you have to have a refined eye and style, but you also have to make editorial decisions based on your values. I was also exposed to many different designers, fabrics, and styles; actually learning about all of these different things helped me refine my style even further. I worked on one story about flocked wallpaper and fell in love with one design that featured colonial silhouettes. It actually inspired my yearbook cover for that year and is now hanging on my closet door.

What sort of work do you do now as the Senior Assistant Director for Enrollment Marketing?
I manage the digital communication strategy for Undergraduate Admissions at GW, which includes social media, student blogs, and videos directed to high school students and their families. Recently we launched one of my most favorite projects that I’ve developed and directed, This interactive platform allows students to customize their own personal college experience, which is just what teens are looking for online. I loved collaborating with our designers and web developers to come up with new gaming-like concepts for GW, such as the photobooth, where you can take a picture with George and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

How was the transition from being a student at George Washington University to working for the university?
Moving away from campus was the biggest thing that helped with the transition from student to staff. I love that my apartment is in a fun part of DC with new restaurants, bars, and places to go, but I’m still able to walk to work. I loved going to college in a big city, but I love DC even more now. I broke out of my “GW bubble” and have really explored new neighborhoods that I never visited as a student. The city has grown so much in the last seven years, and there’s just more to do, see, and eat now!

When you first began blogging, what were your intentions for Cupcakes for Breakfast?
After graduating, I wanted a place where I could continue my writing and incorporate my love for food. But other than that, I had no idea what I was doing. The great thing about blogging is that you can continuously evolve and also see how you’ve grown. I just laugh looking back at my first few months of blogging.

Where do you draw inspiration for your blog?
I love how a certain meal, dish, or flavor can bring people together and tell a really great story. So when I eat out or bake at home, I try to find those stories. It’s not just about the food on the plate. I’m constantly inspired by other bloggers and creatives—how we push, feed off, and collaborate with each other is so inspiring.

It can be so easy to get stuck in a routine of dark, dreary colors in the cooler months. What are your tips for incorporating more color?
I grew up in the most colorful house (our hallways were pink and teal), so I’ve always been drawn to color over neutrals. Pick a palette of your few favorite colors and don’t be afraid to layer and layer them. You’ll see a lot of pink, purple, orange, and gold in my place. But also anchor your space with a few neutral pieces like my gray chairs, white bedding, and black & white dining area. If big color pieces like my rug or couch aren’t for you, just grab a cozy throw in a bright hue for the winter. I love my raspberry pink one.

The design work you’ve done on your home is amazing! How do you make a smaller place feel (and look) so open and spacious?
Thanks! Really my apartment is just one large 450-square-foot box, so I tried split it up into smaller “rooms” but without adding a screen or divider. Putting a big piece of furniture like my couch in the middle of the room helps separate the spaces. Plus, this way I can watch TV from my bed and my couch.

What are some of your favorite places to shop for affordable pieces for your home?
HomeGoods (or the home section at T.J.Maxx) is seriously one of my favorite places ever. So many things from my apartment are from there, from my bar cart (which I then spray painted gold) to frames to kitchen pieces. I bought my coffee table and silver side table on Craigslist for $50 each.

What is one piece you recommend splurging on?
My biggest splurge was my hot pink KitchenAid stand mixer. I named her Ruby. Not only is she gorgeous and a big help in the kitchen, but buying it was a bit of a rite of passage. I wrote a fun story called “From Training Bras to Stand Mixers” about what it meant when I first bought her.

We love how you made each area of your studio feel like it’s its own room. What are some elements of your studio that were essential in giving each area its own space?
The whole place really came together when I bought the giant Ikea Expedit bookshelf. I love how it brings height to the room and really helps create a café feel I was going with for my dining area. I chose this particular Parsons desk from Target because it fit perfectly under my window. And the fluffy flokati rug is so cozy for my “dressing area,” plus I love stepping out of bed onto something soft.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your magazine wall collage. Do you have any other DIY projects in your home?
I’ve been ripping pages out of magazines for as long as I can remember. I covered my pre-teen bedroom in magazine photos of NSYNC—seriously, Justin Timberlake was staring at me from all four walls and my ceiling. I used to spend hours flipping through my mom’s home magazines and putting pages in my “future home” shoebox (the pre-pinterest!). I’ve continued to pull out pages from magazines that inspire me—ads, fashion spreads, interiors, delicious looking food—and one day I just decided to do something with them. They’re held up just by double sided tape, and if I find a new page that is currently inspiring me, I can just replace one tile at a time. It’s the perfect cheap, renter’s, magazine-loving girl’s wallpaper.

I also spray painted my bar table metallic gold (I couldn’t believe how easy that was!) and have some of my own artwork around the apartment (the canvas on the bar, the canvas on my bedside table, and the collages above the TV).

What challenges have you encountered along the design process?
The tough thing about a studio is that you see everything all the time, so I really wanted my apartment to be finished from the moment I moved in. I had to learn that it would grow with me and maybe it wouldn’t ever be “finished.” What’s the fun in that, anyway? I love how my place has changed along with me over the last three years that I’ve lived here. I have to say, I’m very thankful for my huge walk-in closet—I’m happy that a lack of closet space wasn’t a challenge for me!

What does an average day look like for you?
I’m up at 7 a.m., and if I didn’t finish a blog post the night before, I’ll usually put one together while I’m still in bed in the morning. I work from 8:30 to 6ish, and thankfully, my job in social media allows me to follow Twitter and blogs throughout the day so I can stay up-to-date on news, brands, bloggers and trends. I love how most of my new ideas at work come from inspiration outside of the education field. Most likely I’ll have some event to go to after work. Just this week I have a restaurant opening, a concert, a date, a girl’s wine night, and an office party. Hopefully I’m home by 9-10ish, so I can catch up on my blog posts and TV shows. I usually save baking and big cooking projects for the weekend.

What are you most proud of in the design of your studio?
I just love how it feels like me and it’s full of things that make me smile. I make no apologies that this is a girl’s apartment with lots of (grown-up) pink and sparkle. My favorite compliment is when a friend comes to my place for the first time and says, “Ohhh, this is exactly what I pictured your apartment to look like!”