I’m beyond excited to share this interview with you today. I had the chance to chat with my Insta-friend Nicole Blackmon of @sweet_domicile about her recent move to NYC and you’re about to be so inspired! To give you a little backstory, Nicole previously lived in Nashville in a good-sized home with all the space she could possibly want to decorate and redecorate a thousand times over. But when her husband’s job relocated them to the heart of New York City, she underwent the crazy test of downsizing.
I’ve been following her journey on Instagram along the whole way, and I am in awe of the way she not only put her personal style on her new apartment, but how she manages to fit the stuff she’s got in there. Not to mention she’s got a son and a dog, along with family that visits often. So next time you complain about not having enough room or not being able to stay organized, jump back over to this post for a reality check. Nicole is proving that it’s not about how much space you have, but how creative you are with it.
Lela: I’ve been following along with you on Instagram for a long time and you’ve always been such a design inspiration for me. Your move from Nashville to New York City only amplified that even more. Where do you get your own inspiration when it comes to decorating and organizing your home?
Nicole: I love to peruse Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration! There are so many amazing accounts out there, whether designer by profession or purely out of hobby. I also feel inspired by my late mom. She loved to decorate too and I feel like bring a little bit of her into my home.
Lela: One of the things I’ve noticed most about your Instagram feed is that the rooms have so much light and color in just the right places. Can you give some advice on picking textures and colors for small rooms?
Nicole: I’m drawn to light and bright colors. I always have been. So in our home that’s what you’ll find. It doesn’t matter how big or small the rooms are, that’s what we tend to decorate with. However, don’t be afraid to go dark in a small space. It totally works!
Lela: I know you’ve gotten thrifty with a lot of your decor. What’s your favorite DIY to date?
Nicole: My favorite is the midcentury modern chest that is currently in our dining room. It belonged to my husband’s late grandparents and had been sitting in a damp shed for about 5 years. His aunt gave it to us and thought it was falling apart, I knew it could be beautiful again. It took a lot of sanding, stripping, wood filler, painting, even a little sawing, to get it to where it needs to be and it’s a beauty now!
Lela: When you were ready to move, did all of your belongings come with you, or did you have to store or donate some things? I know some people get really attached to their belongings when downsizing, so how did you decide what’s most important to keep?
Nicole: We definitely had to get rid of a lot! We left NYC for Nashville and lived there for two years in a small house. I’m embarrassed to admit to the amount of stuff we accumulated in two years. Having an attic is a dangerous thing! So when we moved back to NYC, we basically sold half of our belongings in a massive yard sale and through Craigslist.
We held on to the things we knew would work in a NYC apartment but kept quite possibly the largest piece of furniture we owned, my late mom’s buffet. I couldn’t part with it and figured we’d just make it work…and we did!
Lela: Speaking of a major downsize, your kitchen is pretty small. What was the transition like going from a large kitchen to a small one?
Nicole: That was hard. Our kitchen we had in NYC the previous time was also larger than our current kitchen but our kitchen in Nashville was huge! We accumulated a lot in that time. It came down to the necessities.
Did we need that massive crockpot we had just gotten 3 months earlier and the smaller one? No. The smaller one came with us instead. Do you really need 3 muffin baking sheets? No. Take one. What about several dozen glasses that you don’t use, each for different occasions? Keep a dozen and sell the rest. So it was pretty easy to part with stuff and honestly, it feels good to purge!
Lela: I noticed you have some gorgeous open shelves in there. What are some other creative storage ideas you would recommend for any room in a small space?
Nicole: The shelves were hands down the best idea I’ve had for this apartment. We desperately needed more dish storage and using that dead space was perfect. I’m a big fan of of those cabinet shelf organizers. I can fit so much more in our little cabinets because of them.
I also love furniture that can hide things. Anything with a door or a drawer to store the stuff you don’t want out in the open is welcome here. Baskets and bins are my best friend, especially in our son’s teeny tiny room. If it hides the clutter, sign me up.
Lela: I’m loving your entryway, too! Can you spill the beans on how you made your narrow hallway work for your family?
Nicole: It’s definitely narrow. I knew we were gonna need to maximize that space before we left Nashville. Living in NYC, winters are cold and we have a plethora of coats and winter gear that need a place to land when we walk in the door.
Knowing the hallway was narrow, I purchased an 8 inch wide piece of wood from Home Depot before we moved and stained it outside in our yard. I ordered hairpin legs from Etsy and made a skinny bench that doesn’t take up much space.
I installed little brass hooks above it that were originally knobs on our television cabinet. I purchased hanger bolts that allowed me to drill them into our walls. Now we have a place to hang bags, coats, etc.
Lela: I think my favorite room in your apartment, though, has to be your guest bedroom with that amazing Ikea bed. What’s it like having family visit? How do you all stay sane sharing the space?
Nicole: That bed almost ended up being thrown out the window and on the street. It was such a nightmare to put together and I’m convinced our marriage is stronger because of it! It’s genius though. The fact that it’s a twin bed and pulls out into a king is brilliant for our tiny guest room.
Family and friends have their own space when they visit now and whatever mess they have can stay tucked away in their room during their stay. In our previous apartments, guests have had to sleep on an air mattress in our living room so we feel like we hit the lottery with the third bedroom, even if it is small.
On Kid Stuff
Lela: Your son’s bedroom looks great, too. How do you keep all of his stuff in order?
Nicole: His bedroom is tiny. To put it in our perspective, his twin bed goes almost wall to wall, with about a foot to spare. We got rid of his desk and dresser because we knew there wouldn’t be enough room for them. His closet is large so it holds all of his clothes without the need for a dresser. We use the inside of his closet door for his shoes using a shoe organizer. I may or may not have a slight problem with buying clothes and shoes for him!
He has a bookshelf that has two shelves just for books and the others are used for storage or displaying his little stuff. Our rule is, once you’ve read it, unless it’s a favorite or a classic, it goes in the donation pile. Don’t worry, he still has a lot of books! I used to keep them all but we simply don’t have space.
He has a toy shelf on the other side of the room that is used to display his many, many Lego creations and is full of bins to hide the rest of the toys…one for cars, one for his magic kits, one for Nerf, etc. Each bin serves a purpose so he can easily find what he’s looking for!
On Pet Stuff
Lela: Let’s chat about sweet Bleeker for a second. I know you’ve got some kind of secret on storing all his stuff and keeping him comfy in your apartment.
Nicole: Yep, he definitely has his fair share of stuff. Treats and medicine are stored away in a basket on top of our tiny makeshift pantry cabinet that sits in the living room…yes the living room! It’s on a wall next to the kitchen so it’s okay. His leash and things used on the daily, like sweater, jacket, poopy bags, etc, are tucked away in a small cabinet in our entry way so they are out of sight!
She shares tons of videos daily of her day-to-day life around New York City, and you get first-person views of local shops, markets, and venues that transport you directly to where all the action is, and you don’t even have to put on pants. Nicole is real, raw, and doesn’t bs, so if she had a crazy experience taking her dog out into a wind tunnel, you’ll hear about it. While I love her photos and feed, I always come back every day to hear her Stories. And her boy and pup are just the most handsome things ever.
Updated April 2019, Original Interview September 2018
Legal Disclosure: This interview was not paid and was conducted between Lela Burris and Nicole Blackmon in good faith. Interview questions and responses are property of LelaBurris.com and may not be used or quoted without written permission of LelaBurris.com media department. All photos shared within this post were provided by Nicole Blackmon for the use on LelaBurris.com. These photos are property of Nicole Blackmon and may not be used by any other entity without approval. For contact information regarding Nicole, please email her via the link within her Instagram profile here.