City: New York
Hey there, I’m Jess Torres, one of DapperQ’s newest crew members. When I’m not working with DapperQ, I work as a model, stylist, actor, singer-songwriter, filmmaker, event producer, and occasional tap dancer. Another way of saying this last sentence is this: over the last 3 months of quarantining during COVID-19 in New York City, I have spent 23.5 hours a day within the walls of this 500 square foot East Village tenement apartment. I’ve done lots of Marie Kondo-ing, a few DIY projects and spent some serious time in creative incubation. We (me and my wife and our little black kitty, Amelie) have lived here for almost a decade and over that time we have built this home as a sanctuary. I’m excited to share this ever evolving, work in progress with you.
Apartment Aesthetic: “Time Worn European Flat”
I often daydream about what it would be like to live in Europe…more specifically Barcelona, Rome, or Paris. It’s not that I don’t love New York — in fact, while I’ve only been to one of the aforementioned European cities, I feel like I can say with a fair amount of certainty that there are corners of this city that lend themselves to the energy and essence of these far off places. However, the buzz and life that exists in NYC moves at a pace much faster than that of its European counterparts. I love the hustle and bustle, but I’ve also come to love and value the slower, simpler moments. I needed a place to retreat to when I wanted to live a Parisian life as a New Yorker. Welcome to my East Village Chateau.
MAKING A STATEMENT
If I’m being totally honest, the one statement wall in the apartment painted in this beautiful teal color, wasn’t intended to stand alone. I’d planned to wallpaper/paint other rooms…but I got lazy. Lucky for me though, this design element does in fact stand alone and make a statement when you walk in the door and the cupboard being exposed really forced us to only have items that we love to look at. I’ve been collecting mismatched glassware for years to build this selection and when I have company over, it’s a fun little pick-your-stemware-adventure.
One Man’s Trash…
If you live in New York, you know that the last day of the month can be a time to score some seriously awesome pieces as people discard unwanted artwork and furniture as they move out of apartments. And during the warmer months, there are often the NYC equivalent of a garage sale…the stoop sale. The antique mirror propped on top of my mantle was one such find and remains one of my favorite pieces. I scored it for $20. So–keep your eyes peeled for gems on the side of the road. You never know what you’ll find. One man’s trash is indeed, another man’s treasure.
THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE WALK INTO A BAR…
It was tense.
Who can resist a good pun or dad joke? Certainly not me. But back to the bar…
The wine barrel was bequeathed to us years ago from a neighbor moving away and it has remained one of my favorite pieces in our home. Speaking of bequeathing. Last year, a small neighborhood restaurant was shutting down and was selling everything, including their super unusual liquor bottles. A few (very heavy) trips up and down the 5 flights and we had ourselves a home bar — full of obscure bottles of liquor. Despite not knowing what Poitin or Sfumato was, I loved the idea that over time I could slowly discover what these gems were and it gave me the opportunity to step outside of my usual comfort zone (Gin Martini, bourbon rocks or if I’m feeling extra fancy, a Gold Rush) to try an herbal liqueur from Budapest or a small batch Aloe liqueur from California.
As for the “wallpaper” behind the bar, this was a happy accident born out of my recent boredom with the white wall. I’d held onto this paper from my last hat purchase at Goorin Bros. and while I’m not sure that it will be the final iteration of this wall, it is fun for now.
When You Polish Off That Bottle…
Don’t toss it! Take an empty liquor or wine bottle and pop in some fairy lights for instant ambience.
Cozying up the living room with a limited amount of space presented quite the challenge. The couch from Joybird was my first “adult” purchase, graduating from the futons and hand-me-down couches of my 20s, the antique trunk (used as a coffee table and storage) was bought off Craigslist, and the rug which added instant warmth, was a World Market find.
While it isn’t necessarily “European rustic,” my Polaroid wall will forever be one of my favorite design features of my apartment. Lining the walls of my living room are memories of my favorite people, places, things, and moments. More special than any piece of decor.
THE TOP HAT, THE WATCH & THE WARDROBE
I’m not gonna lie — I’ve often dreamt of having the queer, dapper version of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet…or if you really want a throwback, the original dream was Cher Horowitz’s rotating clothes rack. These fantasies are limited by a couple of things: 1) I live in a tenement building and 2) I’m on an artist’s budget. While my wardrobe is modest (but mighty), the 1 small coat closet that my apartment came equipped with wasn’t going to cut it, so to Ikea I went. The PAX wardrobe system provides a solid amount of storage and has held up really well, considering the relatively small investment. I love the suggestion from Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” of organizing my wardrobe by length and color. And at the risk of sounding crazy, my clothes seem genuinely happier with this arrangement, as do I. Opening my closet in the morning feels like a breath of fresh air.
Take those boxes you would have tossed into recycling from random purchases and use them instead as organizational bins for your accessories or sock drawer. For an extra fancy dapper touch — cut up old old shirts with fun patterns to line the boxes.
NETFLIX AND DILL
It’s funny — since moving to New York, a city known for its concrete surroundings — I have grown a deeper appreciation for nature than I ever had growing up in Florida. Unfortunately my community garden has been closed to the public during this time of social distancing, which is why I’m so grateful for and proud of my little “garden.”
Plants are a relatively inexpensive investment with incredible returns that breathe new life into a space (literally). And because I hear it makes them thrive, I talk to them on watering days (read: everyday). Not at all because I’m lonely after all this queerantining. It’s totally for them. Not me…
Besides my fire escape (or as I affectionately call it these days, la terrazza), my “library” is my favorite spot in my apartment. Unfortunately, this is also my cat Amelie’s favorite spot. So when I can negotiate (aka trick her into getting up), I spend my mornings writing and my afternoons reading there.
Hats Off To You
Such a fun and easy way to display all those hats hiding in your closet…an instant addition of character to any bedroom or living room with just a handful of nails and a hammer.