The Apartment Tour of A MoMA Collection Specialist


Accomplishing what many art aficionados crave but rarely master, Kayla’s Brooklyn abode feels more like a lived-in gallery than an 800-square foot apartment. But don’t be fooled: Her home is not a place for snobbery. “There’s a no-shoes rule but that’s it,” a valid ask for living in a city as vibrant as New York. “You can create warmth and comfort and not sacrifice on great-looking art—the two are not mutually exclusive,” she comments on the approachable nature of the space. She credits her plants for providing such an inviting feel. Sitting comfortably in an array of self-watering pots rest 30-plus plants all contributing to the relaxed air encompassing the space.

A recognizable Lipsticks Rug by Seletti Wears Toiletpaper covers the bedroom floor, while a 1980s vintage laminate credenza brings in hues of pink we see from the nearby bathroom. A 1960s resin mirror from Hillebrand Leuchten illuminates the space and draws attention to the dresser below.

“I’ll never get rid of them,” Kayla laughs about the wacky fabric flowers her mother gifted her after she got her first job in New York. “I was living in Paris with my parents and I’d always walk past this horrible home decor store with these flowers.… I call them my first-job flowers.” Sounds like a great parting gift to us. 

So what’s next for the collection specialist? Creating furniture of her own. “I basically dumpster-dive and try and find something that’s on its last leg and then try and upcycle it by sculpting over it with papier-mâché and plaster and finishing it with acrylic paint and resin.” With each room representing a different stage in the researcher’s life, the decor is imbued with a deep sense of thoughtfulness and sustainability. “I think it’s healthy to be the temporary custodian of things, allowing them to go on and have a second life somewhere else,” she says. “We will never be the forever owners of any one thing.” 

If the mirror hanging above looks one-o-a-kind, that’s because it is. An ode to her early-quarantine work, the shell collage mirror came about after spending time in Rhode Island. “I just ravenously began collecting seashells and when I came back to Brooklyn, well I just started researching Victorian shell craft.” And thus was born the showstopping mirror. 

🛍 Shop It Out

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Creative Growth Art Center

“A terrific place to start collecting art online. Creative Growth is a nonprofit gallery and studio serving artists with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities.”

MoMA Design Store

“Every Design Store purchase supports MoMA’s exhibitions and educational programs. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of purchases I’ve made here over the years.”

Neue Galerie Design Shop

“Another great online museum store is the Neue Galerie Design Shop. They reissue stunning Wiener Werkstätte design objects, wallpaper, and other paper goods. Expensive, but impossible not to like.”

The Noguchi Museum Shop

“The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum has already sold around 5,000 Akari light sculptures during the pandemic.”

Raini Home

“A new home goods concept store from Kai Avent-deLeon, the founder of my favorite neighborhood coffee shop: Sincerely, Tommy.”

Whispering Winds Store

“A Native-owned Etsy shop where I buy products like sweetgrass, sage, and palo santo. The owner, Sheyenne Tereshko (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) produces everything on her organic farm in Wisconsin. She includes a little gift and a handwritten note with each order—the type of small gesture that completely changes the course of your day.”

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