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I Just ... Made a Very Big Impulse Buy

Bradford Shellhammer loves to shop, but he didn’t intend to buy a whole apartment. Then he found a light-filled Chelsea space that felt just right.


If there’s one thing Bradford Shellhammer knows, it’s shopping. Not only is it his business—Shellhammer is the co-founder of the design e-commerce site Fab—it’s his passion. “I’ve collected a million things in my life,” he says, “from toys to art to shoes.” Over time, he’s honed his eye, and these days his tastes run to fine art (he’s got a soft spot for Andy Warhol), shoes (about 220 pairs at last count), icons of modern design, and a quirky assortment of cool stuff.

Real estate wasn’t even on his mind when a friend, who’s also a broker with Corcoran, suggested that maybe Shellhammer think bigger. “He said, ‘There’s this apartment that’s about to come on the market. It’s got your name all over it. There’s something about it that’s just screaming you.’ ” Shellhammer was skeptical, but he and his now-husband, Georgi Balinov, attended the open house. “We walked in and I had this very emotional reaction,” he says. “I felt something.” He submitted a bid, and was surprised to have it accepted; he was not in the market for an apartment at all, and suddenly he owned one.

The couple didn’t need to alter the space’s architecture. The previous owners had renovated, so Shellhammer and Balinov focused on the fun stuff. “I just got to go in and decorate,” says Shellhammer. First up was a drastic palette change. “People mistakenly think white walls make everything look bigger and cleaner,” Shellhammer says. “I think it’s the opposite.” The dark walls have the added benefit of helping the art and the couple’s many other objects stand out.

Whether it’s the bags he uses for grocery shopping or the Warhol Polaroids of, in Shellhammer’s words, “the four most important women in the world: Jerry Hall, Bianca Jagger, Diana Ross, and Grace Jones,” there’s a lot on display. “I like to just look at everything,” says Shellhammer.

He jokes that Balinov hates the clutter. But Shellhammer’s connection to these things is deep. “My philosophy is always style trumps everything,” he says. And it’s clear that Shellhammer doesn’t just love stuff, he reveres it. “On some level, all these objects around me are alive. I actually like furniture better than people, sometimes.”


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