Apartment tour: 2BR in the West Village

Preschool teacher Diana Alutto isn't afraid to mix colors and patterns in her cheerful DIY digs.

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  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Diana Alutto, a preschool teacher at progressive institution the Blue School...

    Diana Alutto, a preschool teacher at progressive institution the Blue School (theblueschool.org), has been living in her color-splashed pad since July 2007, but it wasn't always so vibrant. "When I first moved in, it was a white box; there was nothing in it except for a refrigerator and the stove," she says. "But it was renovated in 2001, so it just had to be painted." And paint she did---the walls, ceilings, doors, radiators and light-switch covers were coated in various shades of Behr paint from Home Depot. "I don't like natural wood for some reason," Alutto says, "so anything that was natural wood also had to be painted."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    "This is sort of like a preschool bordello," jokes Alutto of the...

    "This is sort of like a preschool bordello," jokes Alutto of the 380-square-foot space she currently shares with a roommate. "Children come here and they love it because it's so colorful. I think it's really reflective of my career choice to work with young children. I'm also a very colorful person, and children are very colorful people." 

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    This fuchsia couch wasn't always so cheery. "It was an ugly, dusty salmon,"...

    This fuchsia couch wasn't always so cheery. "It was an ugly, dusty salmon," recalls Alutto, who reupholstered it with pink cloth. "I'm not a professional---I just covered it with fabric and tucked it in, but you can't really tell." She tops off her handiwork with CB2 pillows that were a Valentine's Day gift and an embroidered blanket from Marshall's that she uses to "cover up all the crap I have underneath there, like the puzzle I'm working on right now."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Though upgrades around the apartment usually depend on cash flow, Alutto didn't...

    Though upgrades around the apartment usually depend on cash flow, Alutto didn't have to save too much to afford this opulent-looking chandelier. "I got this one from Home Depot and it's plastic," she admits. "The molding is foam. [My boyfriend and I] painted it so it looked like an original detail. You'd never know, except I tell everybody because I'm so proud of it."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto bought this pair of floral stools from Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway...

     Alutto bought this pair of floral stools from Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-431-4770, pearlriver.com). "You can fold them for storage, and when we have people over it's good for extra seating," she says.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    "I used to be a performer at Disney World, so there's a lot of Disney touches...

    "I used to be a performer at Disney World, so there's a lot of Disney touches throughout the apartment," says Alutto, referring to this plaid, stuffed Mickey Mouse. It leans against a wood divider that she salvaged from the street. "They have one in the Thai restaurant downstairs; I think it must be Thai because I only see them in Thai restaurants," she posits. "It was originally brown but I painted it black."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto sets her petite dining room table with a black toile runner she made...

    Alutto sets her petite dining room table with a black toile runner she made with fabric purchased from eBay, hand-me-down teacups from her grandmother, Joan Mir dishes that she inherited from a friend who moved to Japan, Crate & Barrel patterned napkins and glasses from Fishs Eddy (889 Broadway at 19th St; 212-420-9020, fishseddy.com). She painted the Alice in Wonderland teapot at now-closed pottery place Our Name Is Mud. 

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Graphic pillows from Crate & Barrel, CB2 and Old Navy jazz up an otherwise...

    Graphic pillows from Crate & Barrel, CB2 and Old Navy jazz up an otherwise blank wall. The vintage side table is yet another find from Alutto's grandmother's house. "When I babysit and the little kids are eating, they use this because the table is too high for them to reach," she explains. 

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto fills a Crate & Barrel vase with daffodils she grew herself at the...

    Alutto fills a Crate & Barrel vase with daffodils she grew herself at the LaGuardia Corner Gardens (511 LaGuardia Pl between Bleecker and W Houston Sts, laguardiacornergardens.org). "I grow really crazy daffodils---they're not the normal kind that you would usually see," she says. "I like having flowers in my house."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    A TV stand from Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn;...

    A TV stand from Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-246-4532, ikea.com) has been repurposed as banquette seating with the help of a pink toile cushion Alutto made with fabric purchased from eBay, and as a cabinet for storing Alutto's dishware (most of which comes from her grandmother and T.J.Maxx).

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    This rolltop writing desk was discarded on the street outside Alutto's...

    This rolltop writing desk was discarded on the street outside Alutto's apartment. It now holds the former textile designer's enormous printer, which she uses to print all of the photos that are hung in her apartment. "I like having a big printer for [creating] quality prints," she explains. "That's something from my textile days that I really wanted to keep." The pink chair is from National Wholesale Liquidators (locations throughout the city; visit nationalwholesaleliquidators.com).

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto fashioned the aquarium for her betta fish using rocks and shells that...

    Alutto fashioned the aquarium for her betta fish using rocks and shells that she collected. "Its name is DVD," she notes. "The betta fish I had before him was named VHS and I plan to name the next one Blu-ray."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    When Alutto first moved into her apartment, the decorating process began with...

     When Alutto first moved into her apartment, the decorating process began with one room in particular. "I wanted the kitchen to be orange, that's all I knew," she says. She organizes her pots and pans on a baking rack from HomeGoods and keeps CDs, DVDs and baking supplies in a purple-trimmed storage unit she made with a friend in a college wood-shop class.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Magnetic storage canisters from Staples stuck to the refrigerator serve as a...

    Magnetic storage canisters from Staples stuck to the refrigerator serve as a space-saving spice rack. "On the package, it showed, like, pushpins and paper clips," admits Alutto.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    "This is my iPod dock," says Alutto, pointing to a hot-pink birdcage from Pearl...

    "This is my iPod dock," says Alutto, pointing to a hot-pink birdcage from Pearl River festooned with faux flowers sourced in the Flower District. "I put the speakers inside because I think they are ugly and don't want anyone to see them."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Patterned pot-holders from Urban Outfitters and a percolator that Alutto scored...

    Patterned pot-holders from Urban Outfitters and a percolator that Alutto scored from her great-aunt add retro flair to her kitchen.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto displays her loose-leaf tea collection on shelves purchased from...

    Alutto displays her loose-leaf tea collection on shelves purchased from Target's website (target.com).

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    A candle-adorned wall sconce that was a gift from a friend provides plenty of...

    A candle-adorned wall sconce that was a gift from a friend provides plenty of mood lighting.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Rather than waste precious counter space with clutter, Alutto hangs recently...

    Rather than waste precious counter space with clutter, Alutto hangs recently received greeting cards on a string above her foyer. "Everything I own is here," she boasts. Her secret for storing life's belongings in a typically small New York space is to "shelve up. All you have to do is get it off the floor and get it up---and have a really good step stool or a super who has a ladder you can borrow."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    "I wanted to do white, black and mirrored or silver photo frames," says Alutto...

    "I wanted to do white, black and mirrored or silver photo frames," says Alutto of her vision for the photo gallery in her foyer. Among the most prominent images hanging in Urban Outfitters and Ikea frames is a snapshot of Alutto and her boyfriend, Gio. "He's really done everything for me in this apartment," she gushes. "I couldn't have done it without him; I can't really take all the credit."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    If you look closely at this Rorschach-esque print by artist John Zaso...

    If you look closely at this Rorschach-esque print by artist John Zaso (johnzaso.com), you'll notice it consists entirely of abstract penises.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    "I used to love Domino, and they featured a black, white and purple room,"...

    "I used to love Domino, and they featured a black, white and purple room," Alutto explains of the inspiration for her bedroom's color palette. "I thought, Oh my God, that totally works! It all mixes in." The damask bedspread is from Century 21.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto found this windowpane on the street and uses it as a unique frame above...

    Alutto found this windowpane on the street and uses it as a unique frame above her bed. "I find pictures that I like and rotate them every few months so I don't have to be committed to one thing," she explains. "I had a pinup girl in there for a while and now it's an illustration from a weird '70s or '80s book about people that ride robot dinosaurs."

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    An Urban Outfitters jewelry tray and globe lamp that once belonged to Alutto's...

    An Urban Outfitters jewelry tray and globe lamp that once belonged to Alutto's mother sit atop a Target nightstand.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    To create her DIY corkboard, Alutto painted a mirror frame from National...

    To create her DIY corkboard, Alutto painted a mirror frame from National Wholesale Liquidators black, and placed wine corks she collected from a friend's now-shuttered Williamsburg bar in the area where the mirror would be.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    Alutto scored this hula-inflected pinup girl calendar on eBay. "I wanted to...

    Alutto scored this hula-inflected pinup girl calendar on eBay. "I wanted to feel summer all year long," she says. She discovered the funky Trixie and Radar (etsy.com/shop/trixieandradar) light-switch cover at the semiannual Bust Craftacular.

  • Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

    The great outdoors come indoors with the help of this scenic shower curtain...

    The great outdoors come indoors with the help of this scenic shower curtain from National Wholesale Liquidators.

Photograph: Jani Zubkovs

Diana Alutto, a preschool teacher at progressive institution the Blue School...

Diana Alutto, a preschool teacher at progressive institution the Blue School (theblueschool.org), has been living in her color-splashed pad since July 2007, but it wasn't always so vibrant. "When I first moved in, it was a white box; there was nothing in it except for a refrigerator and the stove," she says. "But it was renovated in 2001, so it just had to be painted." And paint she did---the walls, ceilings, doors, radiators and light-switch covers were coated in various shades of Behr paint from Home Depot. "I don't like natural wood for some reason," Alutto says, "so anything that was natural wood also had to be painted."

Love the look? Get it here!

A.K. Fabrics 257 W 39th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-944-5693)
"They're really cheap and they'll give you good prices," enthuses Alutto of this fabric store. "You start walking out and they're like, 'Oh, come back, come back!'"

Diana Fabrics 250 W 39th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-302-0006, dianafabrics.com)
Alutto sources most of her textiles from this Garment District fabric outlet, including a Dolce & Gabbana floral print she used to make her living-room curtains. "Yeah, that was like $20 a yard," she admits. "I kind of sprung for that one."

Nook n' Crannie (29-18 Ditmars Blvd between 29th and 31st Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-204-8399, nookcrannie.com)
The cowboy lamp shade in Alutto's bedroom comes from this vintage furniture shop, which is run by nonprofit organization Betel of America. "It's like the coolest store ever," she gushes.

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