I Just … Made a Very Big Impulse Buy

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.”

A pair of drag-queen portraits from Andy Warhol’s “Ladies and Gentlemen” series hangs on a glass wall via a pulley system custom-assembled by Caitlin Moore, who was also the previous owners’ architect. The electric-blue chair (one of a pair) is R. & E. Bouroullec for Ligne Roset. The colorful sofas are from Spanish furniture-maker Sancal. The walls are Pigeon Gray by Benjamin Moore. The cool tones that predominate are a departure for Shellhammer. “This is definitely muted for me,” he says. “There is no yellow or red, and I usually do a lot of that.” The television is hidden away in the sideboard below the vast windows. Near the windows are a pair of Eames chairs and a Vitra side table, and in the center of the room, a Saarinen table from Knoll. Photo: David Allee

The walls are painted in Black Horizon by Benjamin Moore. “It’s the best color in the world,” says Shellhammer. “You just want to lick it.” The Brillo Box Pouf is sold exclusively through Fab. Photo: David Allee

The dining room has an animal theme, with two of Warhol’s “Cow” portraits and a row of mounted antlers by Cast & Crew. The teal steel credenza was picked up at the Oregon-based furniture shop Heartwork; the chairs are a mix of new and vintage designs by Herman Miller; and the rug is by Nanimarquina. Photo: David Allee

I Just … Made a Very Big Impulse Buy