Every last detail in Natasha Nyanin’s 350-square-foot Upper West Side studio has a huge impact on how the place looks and feels.

That’s why the freelancer, consultant, and travel guru (who also has a degree in Neuroscience and has even worked at the Center for Disease Control) instilled the same sense of worldliness and unexpected delight into her home as she does in her day-to-day work. Here, Giacometti lithographs and paintings from Nyanin’s home country of Ghana stand in contrast to $40 peel-and-stick checkered floors.

Nyanin’s kitchen, which was remodeled over an 18-month period alongside the rest of her apartment, is only 40 square feet. The galley-style space originally only had cabinetry on one wall lined with boring recessed lighting and lackluster cupboard doors. But thanks to a coat of paint, new pendant lights, marble-like countertops, custom-designed long brass pulls and Semihandmade Walnut Floating Shelves, it now gives off a sophisticated, almost-Parisian flair. “At first, I wanted an all-white space but the wood warms everything up and creates a focal point,” she says.

“People always comment on the shelves when they visit,” adds Nyanin. They’re also the perfect spot to display objects from her travels: like her tagines from Morocco and Spain, French copper cookware, Senegalese bread baskets, and a number of cookbooks, including My Tuscan Kitchen by Aurora Baccheschi Berti, which she picked up while staying at the Castello di Vicarello in Italy. Though the holidays are looking a little different this year, Nyanin shares how she’s infusing her space with festive cheer this season:

 

Keeping Dinner Guests Safe

Galley kitchen with checkered floors and open shelving

Photo by Nathaniel Johnston

This year, Nyanin’s annual Christmas Eve dinner—where she serves up goose, Thomas Keller’s famous Potato Pave, mixed fruit chutney, and a bevy of desserts, including an ambitious Crouquembouche and chocolate Buche de Noel, has been canceled. Food is typically served from the kitchen, where the Semihandmade shelving offers a jewel box moment for curious eyes. 

Studio apartment with pink velvet sofa

Photo by Nathaniel Johnston

Nyanin has always kept things intimate when entertaining due to square footage, often hosting dinner parties with a max of six to eight people. During COVID, she has limited dinner parties to one or two guests for safety. “I make sure people understand there’s a limited amount of space before they come over,” she says. Next year, she hopes to continue the tradition.

 

Adding Holiday Cheer

Studio apartment with pink velvet sofa

Photo by Nathaniel Johnston

In the meantime, Nyanin is still feeling festive and has been busy making simple decorative swaps for the holidays: a Charlie Brown Christmas tree sits on her dining table (as it does every year). “I keep the ornaments simple and limit the colors to two or three so it’s more about the light and the shiny baubles,” she says. 

She’s also switched up her home’s scent through candles. “A new fragrance can go a long way,” she says. Her go-to: a Neoclassical ornate candle, though she’s recently taken a liking to Frederic Malle’s white concrete candles.

 

Switching Things Around

Studio apartment with white bed

Photo by Nathaniel Johnston

Because she spends a lot of time in tight quarters, Nyanin makes it a point to move items around often for a fresh perspective. “It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture,” she says. New coffee table books to browse in the living room goes a long way in switching things up. On rotation currently: Traditional Arts of Japan, Morocco by Paul Bowles, and Paris: Les Boulevards, a small hand-illustrated book depicting the city of lights’ streets. If Nyanin can’t physically take a trip these days, she can at least travel the world through words and images.

Natasha Nyanin At Home

Photo by Colby Blount

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