Apartment tour: Studio in the East Village

With a little help from friend (and interior designer) Christina Love, trend forecaster Ann Mack turned her cookie-cutter rental into a timeless oasis.

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  • Ann Mack, director of trend spotting at JWT (jwt.com), has rented her 500-square-foot prewar studio since 2005. Ironically, it wasn't until she started looking to buy a place a few years ago that she decided to really settle into her current spot. "I wasn't quite loving anything that I saw," recalls Mack. "I thought, If I'm going to stay in a rental for at least a couple more years, I really want to love the space and make it more my aesthetic." At the beginning of last year, Mack enlisted the help of her friend Christina Love, who runs interior-design company Love Design (christinalove.com), to transform her olive-green-accented, dark-wood-heavy decor into an airy space reminiscent of a beach house. "Christina called it a West Elm trip gone wrong," jokes Mack of her pad's previous incarnation, which was replaced with a thoughtful combination of vintage, antique, contemporary and industrial items.

  • The bedroom and living area occupy opposite sides of the same space, and Mack initially had the room completely flipped---her sleeping quarters were farthest from the entryway in order to maximize privacy. "I was taking up the best real estate with my bedroom because the windows are here," admits Mack. An abundance of natural light now floods her parlor, which also gets its airy feel from a fresh paint job that came at no cost to Mack (she recently discovered that renters are entitled to have their apartments repainted for free every three years). "[The landlord] will only do a certain color white, which is fine because it fits with the aesthetic," she notes.

  • Since Mack is an avid reader, she wanted a comfortable armchair "that I can sink into with a good book." This one was custom-made by TCS Designs (tcsdesignsfurniture.com) in North Carolina using Schumacher (fschumacher.com) fabric. It's accented by a turquoise footstool from Pennsylvania store Antique Haven and a needlepoint Jonathan Adler (locations throughout the city; visit jonathanadler.com) pillow. "The blue just kind of pops and it's playful," enthuses Mack. "The chair could come across as a little formal, but the pillow makes it really youthful."

  • Love encouraged Mack to transform a snapshot taken on one of her many travels into wall art. "I never think of myself as a photographer," says Mack. "I take pictures, but I don't really think that hard about it." With the help of Art Addiction (7 W 34th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, suite 513; 212-956-0805, artaddictioninc.com)---a company that prints images onto acrylic and affixes them to an invisible mount---a photo taken on the dock at Caye Caulker, Belize, becomes meaningful artwork. "That was such a fantastic, relaxing and active vacation, and this always reminds me of it," says Mack.

  • One of the trends Mack has noticed recently is a movement she calls objectifying objects. "As things become more digitized, like records, books, photo albums and even cash, we're starting to fetishize the physical item," she explains. "We're turning these things that are now kind of archaic into pieces other than their original [intended] uses." Inspired by this, Love created a coffee table using stacks of tomes from the Strand Book Store (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com) as the legs, and an upcycled window purchased at Build It Green! NYC (3-17 26th Ave at 4th St, Astoria, Queens; 718-777-0132, bignyc.org) for the top.

  • Books haven't become totally obsolete for Mack: She keeps a pile of hardcovers next to this vintage dresser from Antique Haven, so if guests want to read something currently supporting her coffee table, they can simply swap a replacement in from the extra stack. An etched Venetian-glass table lamp from Cosmo Modern (314 Wythe Ave between South 1st and Grand Sts, Williamsburg; 718-302-4662) gets a modern upgrade with a shade from Just Shades (21 Spring St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts; 212-966-2757, justshadesny.com). Mack's mother and sister salvaged the porcelain box from the hallway of her old Soho apartment building during a visit; she currently uses it to store small jewelry.

  • "I wanted a place to show off my brother's glass," explains Mack of this painted side table from the Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse. Mack's brother, Jeff, is a glassblower who heads the glass studio at the Toledo Museum of Art (toledomuseum.org). "He's apprenticed in Murano, Italy, and he specializes in functional and Venetian glass," says Mack. "He wants you to use his glass---not only is it artistic, but it's also [useful]."

  • A Lucite stand from CB2 (451 Broadway between Grand and Howard Sts, 212-219-1454 * 979 Third Ave at 58th St, 212-355-7974 * cb2.com) gives the illusion of taking up less room, thanks to the structure's transparency. "It's almost like my computer is floating," muses Mack. "I don't have a television, so I watch a lot of TV on the computer. [With the wheels], I can move it over and watch in bed or in the kitchen."

  • This sofa bed from Jennifer Convertibles (locations throughout the city; visit jenniferfurniture.com) is one of the few pieces of furniture that remains from Mack's previous layout. "We actually tried to do stuff to it to make it a distressed couch," admits Mack. A striped blanket from the Conran Shop (888 Broadway at 19th St; 866-755-9079, conranusa.com) and a pillow that Solomonic Couture for the Home (solomonic.us) fashioned out of an old coffee sack picked up at the Brooklyn Flea (East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th Sts, brooklynflea.com) help the sofa blend better into the decor.

  • Love created this wall installation---named A Quiet Night in Florida after lyrics from a Diego Garcia song---by inserting wire pins into Styrofoam birds from Sprout Home (44 Grand St between Kent and Wythe Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-4440, sprouthome.com) and Jamali Garden (149 W 28th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-244-4025, jamaligarden.com), and then sticking them into the wall. One of the feathered creatures hangs from the ceiling on fishing wire for added movement. "My grandma, who passed away in 2007, loved birds and had all of these ceramic birds [in her house]," explains Mack of the homage. "I was extremely close with her; she was one of my best buddies in the world."

  • A cubed shelving unit from Props for Today (330 W 34th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, 12th floor; 212-244-9600, propsfortoday.com) displays more blown-glass creations from Mack's brother, as well as reading material organized by hue. "Before, I had them by genre and that wasn't working because it just looked like a mismatch of books," reflects Mack. "Now I love the color coordination of it, especially against the white [shelves]."

  • "I love his dinosaurs," enthuses Mack of her brother's whimsical glass figurines. "I give them to friends as gifts."

  • "I had my issues about moving my bed to this side of the room," admits Mack. To assuage her hesitancy, Love came up with a way to section off the area without adding suffocating walls: She worked with a contractor to install inexpensive Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-246-4532, ikea.com) panels onto a ceiling curtain track. "It almost makes my bedroom like a cocoon," says Mack. A similar system was built in place of the closet door in order to maximize space. Mack's Ikea platform bed, which has pull-out drawers, serves the same purpose. She dresses it with a silk quilt and a leaf-patterned pillow from ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway at 19th St; 212-473-3000, abchome.com), a pair of mauve shams from Donna Karan Home (donnakaranhome.com) and two white shirred styles that "are remnants from my West Elm days."

  • In lieu of a bulky nightstand, Mack uses this rustic wall shelf, picked up at Salvage Goods (salvagehomegoods.com) in Easton, PA. The lamp was another Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse find. "We decided not to put a shade on that light because I think the Edison bulb makes it," explains Mack.

  • "I play, but not well," says Mack, referring to the electronic piano propped up next to her bed. "I got this for my 28th birthday and I started taking lessons at Greenwich House Music (greenwichhouse.org). My first recital was me and a bunch of 12-year-olds."A landscape of Capri, painted onto a vintage tin ceiling tile, was a fortuitous discovery at Olde Good Things (450 Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts, 212-362-8025 * 5 E 16th St between Fifth Ave and Union Sq West, 212-989-8814 * 124 W 24th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-989-8401 * ogtstore.com). "I traveled in Southern Italy in 2005 and I loved Capri," says Mack. "This just reminds me of that time."

  • Love recalls that when she discovered this wall-hanging at the Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse, "it was in terrible condition. I didn't realize it was velvet until I vacuumed it off."

  • Yet another decorative item scored at the Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse, this retro gas can complements the apartment's blue and green tones.

  • Mack uses these benches as a spot to dump her purse and sit down to take off her shoes when she comes home. "I wanted a place where I could disassemble myself at the end of the day," she explains. The square-shaped stool is from ABC Carpet & Home, while the circular style was purchased from Red Hook vendor Totally Bruce (totallybruce.net) and originally had a plain vinyl seat. "Christina has this upholstery on a chair in her apartment, and I just love it---I've told her a million times," recounts Mack. "One day, I came home and Christina had upholstered this with her leftover fabric."

  • Part of Mack's old aesthetic was an abundance of picture frames. "There were just too many," she admits. Although many of them are now packed away in boxes, this family portrait is one of the few that remain. It rests next to an incense burner that was a gift from her mother atop a credenza Mack picked up at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market (W 39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com) long before her apartment overhaul.

  • Love scored this unsigned oil painting of an airplane barn at the Antiques Garage Flea Market (112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com) and gave it to Mack as a gift. The artist, Peter R. Betz, has since passed away. "He was an illustrator and he loved painting barns and airplanes," notes Love. "I didn't care that it wasn't signed because I just love this one."

  • "You'll notice that everything wheels around," points out Mack. That includes her kitchen tables from Wisteria (wisteria.com), which are actually intended for gardening and propped up on industrial casters from CWIH (364 W 36th St at Ninth Ave; 800-672-2783, cwih.com). "If I'm entertaining, I can move these to the living room and we can eat out there," she notes. "I wanted that flexibility." Barstools sourced from Totally Bruce, Cosmo and the Sundance catalog (sundancecatalog.com) flank the eating area. Rather than rip up the cracked linoleum, the pair found a rental-friendly temporary solution in Urban Outfitters (locations throughout the city; visit urbanoutfitters.com) tromp l'oeil floor mats, printed with an image of whitewashed floorboards.

  • Another example of using personal photography as wall art, this image of Mack was taken by Love while they were having drinks at a Nolita restaurant. "I was laughing and I put my head down and she captured it," explains Mack. "Look at those arms!" adds Love. "That's the product of hours of yoga." Love had it matted and framed at MH Art and Framing Gallery (9 W 20th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-242-1252, mhartandframe.com).

  • This nautical painting from Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse ties in to the apartment's beachy theme. "It's beautiful, you kind of get sucked into it," enthuses Mack. "I just wonder about the story of that ship."

  • Mack had always envisioned having a mirror in her hallway, but the pair found it difficult to track one down with the proper dimensions. Love had this one custom-made through secondhand-furniture vendor Long Island Eddie (631-286-5564). Its trim is constructed from vintage baseboards.

  • A ruffled shower curtain from Urban Outfitters gives the bathroom girly appeal. The cheeky trash bucket was also sourced from the hip chain, while both the koi-shaped bath mat and candelabra are from Anthropologie (locations throughout the city; visit anthropologie.com). The decorative candlestick rests on a three-tiered shelf from Antique Haven.

Ann Mack, director of trend spotting at JWT (jwt.com), has rented her 500-square-foot prewar studio since 2005. Ironically, it wasn't until she started looking to buy a place a few years ago that she decided to really settle into her current spot. "I wasn't quite loving anything that I saw," recalls Mack. "I thought, If I'm going to stay in a rental for at least a couple more years, I really want to love the space and make it more my aesthetic." At the beginning of last year, Mack enlisted the help of her friend Christina Love, who runs interior-design company Love Design (christinalove.com), to transform her olive-green-accented, dark-wood-heavy decor into an airy space reminiscent of a beach house. "Christina called it a West Elm trip gone wrong," jokes Mack of her pad's previous incarnation, which was replaced with a thoughtful combination of vintage, antique, contemporary and industrial items.

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ABC Carpet & Home 888 Broadway at 19th St (212-473-3000, abchome.com)
Mack purchased a few items from this home-decor mecca, including part of her bedding. But she mainly uses the store as a source of inspiration. "It's so nicely laid out," she says.

Archangel Antiques 334 E 9th St between First and Second Aves (212-260-9313, archangelantiques.com)
This antique shop is one of Mack's favorites for "its nooks and crannies," where she likes to browse the unique wares. "I appreciate older furniture because it's made so well and with such craftsmanship," she says. "These days, not all furniture is made that way. You either have to assemble it yourself or it's just shoddily made, so I really appreciate the hardiness of old furniture."

Meeker Avenue Vintage & Antique Warehouse 391 Leonard St between Meeker Ave and Richardson St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-3532, meekerantiques.com)
"We found a wealth of stuff there, and all of it is so unique," enthuses Mack of this indoor flea specializing in vintage and antique decor.

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