Color and Creativity Rule In Designer Susan Alexandra’s New York City Apartment

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces.  For this instalment, we head to New York where accessories designer Susan Alexandra lives in a cozy, colorful apartment. 

Susan Alexandra has lived in seven different apartments in New York City. Seven different flats! “I have moved SO much in New York City,” the accessories designer jokes. Perhaps this one is lucky number seven. Alexandra received the keys to the space on the Lower East Side in January, just after the beginning of a new year. “I just knew it this time,” she enthuses. “I only saw this place and decided it was perfect.”

It was both the location that sold the apartment for Alexandra, smack bang in the middle of one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, and the bones of the space: cosy, good light and a blank canvas that the designer could add her own stamp to. “I am renting, so all alterations to the space were superficial,” Alexandra stresses, but that doesn’t mean that she has been unable to change things up in the apartment. One of her major improvements was covering the kitchen cabinets in colored contact paper “to make them more vibrant,” she explains, and switching up some of the light fixtures. “This makes a world of difference,” she says and it’s an easy and affordable quasi-renovation, too.

Alexandra’s style is creative and full of life, as seen in both her designs – such as her trademark beaded micro bags, or her eccentric charm necklaces – and her apartment. In the living space, an open shelf displays all of her treasures and knick knacks, while a marigold yellow dining table from Wiggle Room and a collection of mismatched chairs stands in pride of place in the centre of the room. It’s her favorite in the apartment: “I spend 98% of my time here,” she admits.

There are a few more pieces Alexandra wants to add to her home. Some beaded lampshades, custom-made for the apartment by the designer, and a curved mirror. Homewares is one of the designer’s passions, which is why it makes sense that she is launching a range of interior decor as part of her business next week. So how would she advise you to approach styling your own space, to make it as exciting and full of life as her own? “I think lots of personal touches are what make any home stand out,” she says.  

Hi Susan! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I make bags, jewellery, lamps, tissue boxes, planters and fantasy worlds. Also, I make an amazing labne dip.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

My whole life revolves around making. I'm constantly seeking inspiration and ideas.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

I always loved creating, since I was very little. I worked really really hard when I got to New York, I tried many different career paths. I never thought that this could be my life!

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

Now, because I'm very much a business person versus a creative, I start with a deadline, haha.

What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to further your business?

Can you believe the answer to this would be social media? It is ridiculously beneficial. Also, living in New York and connecting to as many people as I can. Saying YES can be a gift and a curse but more times than not, something amazing comes from it.

Shop Susan's look with our Sage bath and hand towels

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your business?

That every day can potentially be a heartbreak. And that you're constantly working. Always.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?

I've built a whole community around my work. That is so incredibly rewarding. Gives me the warm fuzzies!

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

Say yes to everything. Plan optimistically. Get it in writing. 

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

Just since January 5 of this year!

Shop Susan's look with Petrol and Lavender in our Build Your Own Bundle.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

I am renting so all alterations to the space were superficial, and there is still so much I want to do! I covered the kitchen cabinets with contact paper to make them more vibrant and changed light fixtures. This makes a world of difference!

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?

No thought process. Just filling it with lots and lots of things I love.

What are your favorite pieces in the home?

I love my vintage green chair carved into a daisy. I love my yellow Wiggle Room table. I love my shelving unit that was built specifically to fit my tchotchkes. I love all my miniatures!

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

I'm installing a really lovely squiggly mirror and switching out the light fixtures to beaded ones that I'm custom making for the apartment.

Shop Susan's look with Petrol and Lavender in our Build Your Own Bundle.

Which is your favorite room in the house?

The living room. I spend 98% of my time here.

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

Nice sheets make a huge difference in the bedroom.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

I'm launching homewares next week and couldn't be more excited!

Photography Meghan Marin

Styling Vanessa Vazquez

For more from Susan, follow her at @susanalexandra or susanalexandra.com

Love this home tour? Step inside the renovated 1950s apartment of Melbourne creative Annie Portelli.

Discover more of Australia's most beautiful homes in our series, The Makers.

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