Apartment tour: 1BR in the Financial District

A married couple mixes stripes and polka dots to put their uniquely chic spin on a nautically themed pad.

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  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Television personality Katrina Szish (katrinaszish.com) and her husband, Brant Stead, a software executive, have both been renters for as long as they've lived in Manhattan. But that's never stopped them from renovating kitchens, putting up wallpaper, installing lighting and otherwise making a place all their own. "We are serial redecorators," concedes Stead, who says that the 693-square-foot space they've lived in since March 2010 is "our sixth fully reconfigured apartment." Though the pair---who, according to Szish, "first bonded over our mutual love of industrial design"---have resided together in Williamsburg; the Lower East Side; Red Bank, New Jersey; and the South Street Seaport, no two pads of theirs have ever looked alike. "The themes have varied depending on what the view is and what the space says to us," notes Szish. "After seeing the boats go by on the Hudson River through that huge window, I wanted it to be black-and-white urban nautical, but with a twist." Taking inspiration from the razzle-dazzle camouflage painted on World War I ships, the couple decided to mix polka dots and stripes throughout their abode for graphic appeal.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    The couple put up polka-dot wallpaper that they purchased online from Creative Wallcovering (creativewallcovering.com) to add depth and dimension to the vestibule. "Brant is amazing with anything artistic and creative, even if it's just painting," gushes Szish. But Stead's decorating talents don't end with a paint roller: He also hard-wired and wall-mounted the sunburst fixture from Suffolk Designer Lighting (suffolkdesignerlighting.com), even though it's not meant to be "because it's too heavy," he explains. "That was a Jonathan Adler inspiration," notes Szish. "He had them on the ceiling of the Parker Palm Springs (theparkerpalmsprings.com), which is one of my favorite hotels, so we did a smaller version [on the wall]." Graphic Marimekko pillows and a hurricane lantern purchased on sale at Crate & Barrel (611 Broadway between W Houston and Bleecker Sts, 212-780-0004 * 650 Madison Ave at 59th St, 212-308-0011 * crateandbarrel.com) are displayed on a narrow bench from Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-246-4532, ikea.com).

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Szish and Stead share their space with their two Italian greyhounds, Wilhelmina and Tallulah, the latter of whom fits in nicely with the apartment's color scheme---but she isn't the only pet who can make such a claim. "We also have a black-and-white cat, Tabitha," notes Szish. "She matches the decor but she's usually under the bed."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Rather than settle for the unsightly cabinet knobs that came standard with the apartment, Stead hand-knotted nautical-themed pulls by covering wooden balls with black rope (he also made larger knots for the closet doors in the hallway). An assortment of sleek white Jonathan Adler pottery pops against striped Sherwin-Williams (sherwin-williams.com) EasyChange removable wallpaper. "Supposedly, that will just come right off," says Szish. "We'll see how easy it is when we move out!"

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    To create wall art that went with her theme, Szish purchased sailing books from the Strand Book Store (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com) and framed any black-and-white photos from them that caught her eye. A modern George Nelson clock from the MoMA Design Store (81 Spring St at Crosby St, 646-613-1367 * 44 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-767-1050 * momastore.org) hangs above her DIY decoration.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "We collect matchbooks because we love all of the different designs," notes Szish, referring to the assortment stored on top of the refrigerator. "It reminds us of where we've been---I think there are some in there that date back to when we first met." The couple keeps their extensive collection in a lucite box they picked up at the Lincoln Road Outdoor Antique & Collectible Market (antiquecollectiblemarket.com) in Miami.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Szish replaced the pillows that matched the cushions of this Ralph Lauren rattan couch with Madeline Weinrib striped and ikat styles from the closeout section in the basement of ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway at 19th St (212-473-3000, abchome.com). "This ended up being a lot more comfortable," she swears. A trio of framed vintage photographs hangs behind the seating area; the bottom two depict Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where the couple vacations annually and got engaged, while the top one was a gift from a Russian friend.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "This was just from letting people know what we wanted," says Szish, referring to this black-and-white painting of the New York Harbor. "In Rehoboth Beach, there is one of the most amazing furniture shops I've ever seen called J. Conn Scott (jconnscott.com); you walk into the store and you're just so inspired," she enthuses. "We started talking to the owner and explained what we were going for here. One day, he sent us an e-mail letting us know he got this in, and it was just absolutely perfect. It's almost like having another window on that wall, and it really fills the space." Although most of the apartment was done on a budget, the nautical signal light from Restoration Hardware (935 Broadway at 22nd St; 212-260-9479, restorationhardware.com) was a splurge. "I think of lighting like I think of shoes," says Szish. "It's worth spending the money on something that will be a great accent."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "Rules are meant to be broken in design," declares Szish, who mounted a trio of vertical Ikea shelving units sideways on the wall to create this display area for a curated collection of pop-culture-themed books. "We've got a good number of them signed," notes Stead (Oleg Cassini and Grace Coddington are among the subjects who have autographed tomes). "We love collecting art pieces and books, but also having it personalized," adds Szish. "We don't necessarily set out to do it, but somehow we're lucky enough that our paths end up crossing with a lot of these people, so we're able to add more meaning to some of those items."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    The couple loves skulls---they even have matching tattoos of craniums from New York Hardcore (127 Stanton St between Essex and Norfolk Sts; 212-979-0350, nyhctattoo.com)---and they've repurposed empty Crystal Head Vodka bottles (crystalheadvodka.com) as decanters for various other spirits. "I like things that are uniform," notes Szish. "Everything in the same bottle, everything in the same color."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Szish scored this limited-edition canvas print from members-only contemporary art website Exhibition A (exhibitiona.com). It's a photograph of artist Ryan Humphrey's original piece, Motor City, which is made from automobile sheet metal.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "We love to find little gems on our travels," says Szish, motioning to this pitcher that she discovered at a Paris flea market. She fills it with striped writing utensils that were sneakily acquired. "Every time we go to the Crosby Street Hotel (79 Crosby St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-226-6400, crosbystreethotel.com), we steal those pencils," she admits. "To me, it's strength in numbers, so I like to have a big group. I tried to find a place to buy them, but I couldn't, so I just take them!"

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Since most nautically themed items come in navy blue or brass, the pair had to be creative when sourcing items that fit their unusual black-and-silver palette. An example is this wall-mounted anchor from outdoor-furniture company Frontgate (frontgate.com), which Stead repainted black to conceal its original brushed metal finish. The sleek glass end table from the MoMA Design Store, however, is one item that didn't need to be manipulated in order to fit in. "It's been with us in every apartment---no matter how the decor changes, this just always fits in," states Szish. "It's one of those classic pieces; it's like an LBD."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "This is something I did in an afternoon when I was feeling inspired," Szish says of the nautical gallery in their living room. "She is a picture-hanging wizard," boasts Stead. Since there are ten-foot-high ceilings in this area of the apartment, Szish filled the abundant vertical space with a mix of preframed prints purchased at the Brooklyn Flea (176 Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn * East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn * brooklynflea.com), framed pages ripped from vintage seashell textbooks and sailing tomes that she bought at the Strand Book Store, and artwork that the couple already owned (including  a hand-painted piece of leather nabbed on their honeymoon in Australia). "I don't plan it out," she swears. "I just start by hanging something and then I build on it." The handsome wooden armoire was a gift from Szish's parents and serves as a covert media unit. "I work in television, so I obviously love the medium, but [I don't like] the whole idea of having a television shrine," explains Szish. "For us, it's always about hiding the TV, so this is the perfect way to do it."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    Szish mixes a striped duvet cover from bedding e-tailer Sin in Linen (sininlinen.com) with polka-dot sheets scored at PB Teen. The oversize anchor pillows were a custom job executed by local designer Lana Tarpinian of Honey Pie Design (honeypiedesign.etsy.com). "I love how Ralph Lauren plays with scale," she says. "In an apartment in New York, it's hard to go really big with things, but I will as much as I can."

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "I love working with mirrors because they add space and light," says Szish, who discovered this octagonal vintage style at Las Venus (163 Ludlow St between E Houston and Stanton Sts; 212-982-0608, lasvenus.com). "I got it because I couldn't afford the Jonathan Adler version but it reminded me of that one so much," she recalls.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    In addition to books, the duo also collects vinyl figures from artists like Kaws (kawsone.com) and Frank Kozik (fkozik.com)---much of which is currently in storage. "It's not all black-and-white, so it doesn't always fit in," notes Stead. The one exception is this Be@rbrick (bearbrick.com) Hello Kitty figurine, which sits on a nightstand next to their bed. "She has a red bow and it doesn't match, but she's Hello Kitty and I live for her, so she stays," jokes Szish.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "This was something that I'd stalked and that we really wanted for our wedding," gushes Szish, referring to this Jonathan Adler love seat that she eventually found at the designer's sample sale. It acts as the ideal display for a selection of stacked monochrome books.

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    "I've always loved how Anna Sui kind of dolls up her [signature mannequin heads]," notes Szish. "Years ago, when I first moved to New York and I was an intern and a waitress, I felt crafty and decorated one of those. My mom became obsessed with it, and now it's like a joke." Though this one, which was a gift from Stead, isn't bedazzled, that doesn't mean it stays completely unadorned: Szish seasonally rotates the mannequin's hats and accessories. It sits next to meticulously labeled Ikea boxes that store all of Szish's backup toiletries. "I get so many beauty samples," admits Szish. "I still have stuff that I got when I was at Vogue ten years ago!"

  • Photograph: Brian Harkin

    Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

    This anchor-adorned shower curtain was another custom creation by Honey Pie Design, which Szish discovered for a nautical segment on The View. "I bought this fabric and told her exactly what I wanted," says Szish. "She had never made anything like this before." Polka-dot towels from PB Teen continue the apartment's cohesive contrasting-pattern theme.

Photograph: Brian Harkin

Katrina Szish apartment tourphoto 2011 Brian HarkinReference file. Not...

Television personality Katrina Szish (katrinaszish.com) and her husband, Brant Stead, a software executive, have both been renters for as long as they've lived in Manhattan. But that's never stopped them from renovating kitchens, putting up wallpaper, installing lighting and otherwise making a place all their own. "We are serial redecorators," concedes Stead, who says that the 693-square-foot space they've lived in since March 2010 is "our sixth fully reconfigured apartment." Though the pair---who, according to Szish, "first bonded over our mutual love of industrial design"---have resided together in Williamsburg; the Lower East Side; Red Bank, New Jersey; and the South Street Seaport, no two pads of theirs have ever looked alike. "The themes have varied depending on what the view is and what the space says to us," notes Szish. "After seeing the boats go by on the Hudson River through that huge window, I wanted it to be black-and-white urban nautical, but with a twist." Taking inspiration from the razzle-dazzle camouflage painted on World War I ships, the couple decided to mix polka dots and stripes throughout their abode for graphic appeal.

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Jonathan Adler Locations throughout the city; visit jonathanadler.com
Many pieces in the couple's apartment have either been inspired by or purchased from this design guru's eponymous home-decor brand. "I'm a huge Jonathan Adler fan because his philosophy is, if it makes you happy, do it," enthuses Szish. "[Design] doesn't need to be so serious."

PB Teen 1451 Second Ave at 76th St (212-879-2513, pbteen.com)
Though it's geared toward adolescents, Szish has scored many items—including her bedsheets and towels—from this Pottery Barn spin-off. "There is so much great black-and-white stuff," she says.

Saifee Hardware 114 First Ave at 7th St (212-979-6396, saifeehardware.com)
When the couple lived on the Lower East Side, they'd visit this hardware store to stock up on gardening supplies, pots for their plants and other decorative outdoor items. "It's densely packed, so even if you need a paint marker to touch up something or black lacquer spray paint, they'll have it," notes Stead.

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Amy A
Amy A

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