Style Evolution: Ellie Somerville’s Studio Space

Despite all the stress and heavy lifting, there’s an often-unacknowledged benefit to moving. “You pack everything up and move to a new space, and when you take everything out of the boxes, you reimagine it in a new way,” says Ellie Somerville, Lonny’s associate market editor, who recently relocated to a new space with her boyfriend, Nick McNevin. Somerville and McNevin sacrificed square footage for a great neighborhood, which in turn led to some serious decorating decisions. “I had to think about the pieces I really loved,” Somerville explains.

Fitting into a smaller space has taught Somerville a lot about decorating, reinforcing the importance of attention to detail. She customized a Pax wardrobe from IKEA with Lucite pulls from The Paris Apartment and layered rugs to create more texture and depth.

Despite the apartment’s size, Somerville wasn’t afraid to play with scale, even including her Charles P. Rogers canopy bed from her last space. “It might seem crazy in such a small space, “ she says, “but the canopy bed gives it a sense of grandeur and feels almost like a separate room when you close the curtains.” She was even able to fit in the aptly named Studio Sofa by Nate Berkus from HSN.

Somerville says she was inspired by the compact luxury of well-designed hotel suites and by the work of decorators such as Ryan Korban who’ve transformed that aesthetic into small spaces that are big on style. “Everything fits within an inch of its life,” she says. “We’ve been really lucky.” One bookshelf fit so well it looks built in, but it didn’t provide enough space for all their books, so Somerville added a Sapien Bookcase from The Container Store. It has a small footprint but provides a lot of storage, which Somerville appreciates because “books really make a space feel like home,” she says.

To brighten the space and create depth, Somerville made use of carefully placed mirrors, including an octagonal design from Restoration Hardware. “They’re positioned to maximize light,” she says. “With the help of a mirror, I can see out the window when I wake up in the morning, even though it’s on the opposite side of the apartment.”

Because she chose a dark wall color, the reflective quality of the mirrors is especially important. Somerville had dreamed of painting a space a rich green since living in her last apartment, and this light-filled studio was the perfect testing ground for Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green. “I have a lot of neutral pieces of furniture, so I wanted something to ground it,” she says. “The neutral pieces give the apartment a sense of cohesion, but the green really unites the space.”

Living in a studio has had some unintended consequences. “When you can’t close the door on a mess, you learn to be more organized,” explains Somerville. To prevent clutter, she adheres to a rule: “As soon as I bring in one thing, another item goes out the door.”

While utility is paramount in such a small space, practicality can only go so far. “Every space needs a bit a fun,” she says. “For me, it was Cole & Son’s Palm Leaves wallpaper in my entryway. It makes me feel like I’m on vacation every time I walk through the door.”

Even though it’s a studio, Somerville and McNevin regularly host dinner parties with the help of a folding table. “My boyfriend is a chef, and I’m Southern, so I really wanted to have a place for entertaining, especially since we love to have people over,” she says. “Now we just pull out a table and throw a tablecloth on it.” Although McNevin initially laughed when Somerville made the case for a dining table, the stow-away version is perfect, and the intimacy of a small gathering is something they’ve come to love.

Now that she’s done decorating the apartment, Somerville says she and McNevin plan on hosting Thanksgiving dinner. “It’ll be a tight fit,” she says, “but I’m determined.”

P.S. To see Somerville’s previous apartment when it was featured in Lonny, click here. The feature also includes sourcing details for many of Ellie’s current pieces.

1. Palm Leaves wallpaper: price upon request; Cole & Son | 2. Octagonal Mirror: $195, Restoration Hardware | 3. PAX Bergsbo Wardrobe with 2 doors: $189, IKEA (handles: Lucite Adjustable Handle with Brass Finish: $34, The Paris Apartment ) | 4. Linen with Geometric Chenille and Metallic Leather Embroidery Pillow: $275, Ankasa (Similar option)  | 5. "Leopard People, 1966" Framed Photo: $169-699, The New York Times Store | 6. Cashmere Throw in Charcoal: $299, Restoration Hardware | 7. "Studio Green" Paint in Estate Emulsion Finish: $85 per gallon, Farrow & Ball | 8. DL Rhein Cross Hatch Granite Embroidered Pillow: $70, Layla Grayce | 9. Nate Berkus™ Studio Sofa in Velvet Pewter: $599.95, HSN | 10. Sapien Bookcase: $198, The Container Store | 11. Bone Side Table: $199, West Elm |

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