Space of the Week: Decorating Without Time Constraints

Yuko Shimizu, a freelance illustrator and teacher at the School of Visual Arts, looked at more than 150 one-bedroom co-op apartments before deciding on this one in Morningside Heights a year and a half ago. She then gave herself an open deadline to furnish her dream apartment, no matter how long it took. The apartment is still a work-in-progress, but most of her wishes are in place, starting with a pair of Harry Allen hands for hanging up keys and dog leashes near the front door. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Yuko’s six-year”old longhair Chihuahua, Bruiser, goes with her everywhere, and he travels in style, with a one carrier for trips and one for home. “I am a bit embarrassed by his name because it is from the movie Legally Blonde,” she says, “but when I adopted him a year ago, he already had that name. No matter how I tried to change it, he didn’t want anything else.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

Yuko, seen here, found her couch through the Etsy page of Spruce (, a mostly-female furniture-reupholstery shop down in Texas. They found her an old frame, which they stripped and reupholstered with this black-and-white Verner Panton print. The whole process took a year and a half, but Yuko was ecstatic about the results. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The acrylic bench in the living room doubles as a coffee table”, not to mention an oversize lightbox”, ideal for romantic parties. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The hooded chair is from Restoration Hardware, and the wallpaper is a Scalamandre print (the same found in the late New York restaurant Gino’s and in Gwyneth Paltrow’s character’s room in The Royal Tenenbaums). Yuko’s friend, interior designer Andrew Kozak, was able to get it for her. She also leaned on friends Wade Laing, an architect, and Ed Pollio and Stefan Karfakis, both contractors, who made the closet in her office and painted the apartment. “No contractor nightmare for me,” she says. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Yuko found many of her decorative pieces and furniture on Etsy and eBay and in flea markets around the country (she travels often to give lectures). “I gave myself a huge task of making an Ikea-free apartment,” she says, not because she doesn’t like the store but because she adores a challenge. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The painted striped walls were inspired by her childhood memories of the sixties (“Space Age, Panton, Pierre Cardin”) and by interior designer Miles Redd’s apartment, as it once appeared in Domino magazine. “I even picked different finishes of paint. The white is matte and the black is shiny, so when the light hits, it looks very dramatic. It is one of my favorite parts of the apartment.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

The stripes continue right up through the door frame and onto the ceiling. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Architect Wade Laing was one of the previous owners of the apartment and left behind a pair of Artemide desk lamps above the stove and sink. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Yuko, reflected in the mirror in her office, has just a few things left on her wish list: “My dream item, a chandelier from Dutch design studio Droog, is still not here because I can’t afford it. I have a no-knockoffs policy, as I am an artist myself and know how frustrating it is to be copied.” Yuko’s first monograph is due out in September from German publisher Gestalten. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: Decorating Without Time Constraints