Merrell, a 27-year-old model and actor, and Saathoff, a 26-year-old model-turned-agent, have been renting their spacious digs for almost a year. The apartment is a serious upgrade from the first space the roommates shared, when signed with Next Model Management. “The agency gave us a 500-square-foot apartment, and we had a bunkbed,” recalls Saathoff, who will be featured on Logo’s forthcoming reality show Kept, about the privileged lives of gay New York socialites (which premieres in October). “It was exactly like Zoolander,” jokes Merrell.
Hanging above the elevator door that opens onto their apartment is an upside-down horseshoe (yikes, bad luck!)—but there’s a reason it’s ass backwards. On a trip home to Louisville, Kentucky, Saathoff picked up the horseshoe for their apartment. But when airport security stopped him during a bag check, he was informed that his souvenir was designed for a mule. “We still think it protects us,” shrugs Saathoff. The entry mat is from Bed Bath & Beyond, though “it’s got that quirkiness of a Jonathan Adler design,” says Merrell.
The mustard-colored armchairs were an eBay find that Merrell and Saathoff had reupholstered. They were delivered from Florida by TS and Company (tscmoving.com), a Christian moving crew. “They come up and try to convert you,” laughs Saathoff. “It’s only, like, $100, so preach all you want to me!” adds Merrell.
Merrell haggled for the rug at the Brimfield Antique Show (brimfieldshow.com) and scooped up the coffee table outside a hospital on Lexington Ave in NYC, which he sanded and then painted black. The shelving unit was purchased from Ikea. “I like the idea of Ikea being an accent, but not the design,” explains Merrell.
A lush palm tree gives the living room a laid-back vibe. “I’m from Southern California, so my influence is Malibu Beach take-your-shoes-off comfort,” says Merrell. The couch was a gift from a friend and the photo negative is on loan from a friend. “I think it’s some sort of Thai war veteran Christmas,” speculates Merrell. “There’s war guys in Thailand, and these Thai girls are singing for Christmas—at least that’s what I see.”
This traveling guitar was a birthday gift Merrell received from a friend because "I wanted to take lessons and, yet, there it sits," he laughs.
"I went through a phase when I wanted start an art collection by buying an art book a month," says Merrell. "People like to look at them. Plus, they give me a lot of ideas and inspiration."
Large mirrors make Merrell's bedroom appear twice its size. "The mirrors came with the room when I moved in," says Merrell. "At first I thought it seemed like a dance studio, but now I'm totally excited—they're very functional."
“We have a private chef [Georgia Melnyk of Two Peas in a Pod (917-757-3429, twopeasinapodchef.com)] that comes in on Mondays,” says Merrell, “but she doesn’t cook for us! She cooks for our neighbor upstairs, but since we have a larger kitchen and more counter space, she uses ours. She teaches me so much, and when we come home on Mondays, the apartment smells amazing. A lot of this stuff is a mixture of mine and hers, so we have pretty much anything you need to cook.” Adds Saathoff, “Sometimes she leaves food in the refrigerator, like homemade hummus. She’s such a nice person; I’ll sit back here for hours and listen to her tell stories.”
“A friend of mine, Andrew Leslie, closed his gallery [Cohan and Leslie] and loaned a lot of these pieces to us,” explains Merrell of the apartment’s art collection. “He saw that it would really bring life to our apartment. This is one of my favorites in the house; I like the natural wood frame. It’s just simple.”
A vintage poster from Merrell's mother gives an otherwise all-white bathroom a splash of color while providing the California native with a hint of home.
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Angel Street Thrift Shop(118 W 17th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-229-0546, angelthriftshop.org) "It's like Housing Works, but even better," says Saathoff.
The Company Store(thecompanystore.com) Merrell is a big fan of this e-commerce site. "It's the best for bedding, pillows and towels," he says, "and they have sales all the time."
Hell's Kitchen Flea Market(39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com) More than 50 vendors hawk vintage goodies at this year-round outdoor market. "I go there just to walk around all day long and pick up things," says Saathoff.
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