Apartment tour: 1BR in the West Village

This one-bedroom is full of clever DIY ideas from its artist-cum-hardware-store-owner inhabitant.

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  • Exposed brick, mod furniture and demure cats---what's not to love?

  • The eclectic dining room is a mash-up of old and new, and is decorated with...

  • Schoen, sitting on a chair reminiscent of Henrik Thor-Larsen's Ovalia chair...

  • Chalkboard-painted walls: "Be sure to really let it dry before you write on...

  • Schoen's dog Kodos is an avid reader (kidding!)

  • In the bathroom there's a toilet-paper holder crafted from the deck of a...

  • The bedroom is tiny, but Schoen gave it a burst of life with a graphic...

  • Schoen used antique faucets as door handles

Exposed brick, mod furniture and demure cats---what's not to love?

Photographs by Imogen Brown

"The West Village is still great because of the people," says 31-year-old Nathaniel Schoen, who lives and works in the historic neighborhood, which has been overrun by luxury boutiques in recent years. "The people who have been here forever are still here." Including Schoen's own clan: They opened Garber Hardware (710 Greenwich St between Charles and West 10th St, 212-929-3030), their family-run hardware store in 1884 and have been in business ever since. Today, Schoen, who is also an artist, works in the store with his father and uncle.

Back in the mid-90s, Schoen's mother predicted the cutthroat nature of downtown real estate, so she encouraged her son to request to be added to a management company's waiting list—Schoen was still in high school at the time. Shortly after he graduated from college, his name came up, and he scored the rental apartment he lives in today. The railroad-style flat has five rooms (currently staged as a bedroom, dining room, kitchen, office and living room), and all the quirks (and charm) of a hundred-year-old building, including a four-flight walk-up, exposed brick walls and slanted floors. Schoen shares his bachelor pad with his dog, Kodos, and two cats, Chowda and Starla.

The fifth generation in his family to work at Garber Hardware, Schoen shows his roots in the many HGTVesque projects in his home. When it comes to fixing up a rental apartment, he says, "Don't be afraid to take matters into your own hands." In the living room he installed a shelf around the perimeter of the room near ceiling height to store books without taking up any living space. He also hung doors on a barn-door track to save the square footage that traditional swinging doors would have eaten up. In the dining room, Schoen built a custom bar out of ordinary bracket-style shelving and track lights. And, of course, hardware plays a special role: Handles for the sliding doors are made from antique faucets; a stack of tool chests looks like a sculpture in the dining room; and a rolling ladder from the original Garber Hardware acts as a bookcase.

The furnishings here are a mix of new and old. Three diner-style chairs inherited from a downstairs neighbor surround an Ikea dining table, while the fourth chair belonged to Schoen's great-uncle, Papa Hank. "Hank was the third generation to run the store," he explains. In the living room, a '60s-style egg chair is at home with contemporary furnishings. Ever the handyman, Schoen also puts his own stamp on off-the-shelf furniture. His desk is customized with a glass blotter, and inexpensive doors were fitted with glass panels. Schoen also has an impressive collection of art—most is his own work, but you'll also find a painting by Yaacov Agam and original animation cels from The Simpsons (he's a huge fan). A hallway painted with chalkboard paint encourages guests to add their own artistic contributions to the space.

With an apartment that actually feels like home, an enviable eight-block commute and friends and family nearby, Schoen doesn't plan on moving anytime soon. "I'm going to be here forever."

Schoen will have an exhibition just up the street at the Ivy Brown Gallery (675 Hudson St between 13th and 14th Sts; 212-925-1111, ivybrowngallery.com) from April 30 until May 4.

He's single! Interested? Ladies, e-mail him at nathaniels@tonypersonals.com.


Why the West Village?

"The thing I love about it here is that it's sort of like a big family," says the ten-year West Village resident. "I never walk anywhere in this neighborhood without stopping to say hello to somebody."

Favorite restaurants

La Bonbonniere (28 Eighth Ave at 12th St, 212-741-9266) "I used to come here with my great-uncle Hank when I was a kid. Now, I'll go for breakfast on a weekday when it's less crazy."

Cafe Panino Mucho Giusto (551 Hudson St between Perry and W 11th Sts, 212-229-2799) "They make me a special breakfast panino on request! It's egg, cream cheese and smoked salmon."

'sNice (45 Eighth Ave at W 4th St, 212-645-0310) "I always get the same thing: a double espresso and the fontina-cheese sandwich."Mojo Coffee (128 Charles St at Greenwich St, 212-691-6656) "I love it. It's right around the corner from the hardware store, so it's my work coffeeshop."

Shops

Carry On Tea & Sympathy (110 Greenwich Ave at Jane St, 212-989-9735) "I need them to sustain both my British candy habit and my witty banter habit."

Yoyamart (15 Gansevoort St at Hudson St, 212-242-5511) "For retail therapy, I go to Yoyamart. I buy a lot of gifts there—for kids and grown-ups."

Other haunts

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill(308 W 58th St at Eighth Ave, 212-397-0404) "I live in the brunch capital of the city and I never get to brunch because I work on Sundays. When I do get the chance, I actually go uptown for Chef Dave's cheesy rice—it's just excellent."

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