Renovated Studio in Former Warehouse


Location West Village

Rent $1950 (market)

Square feet 600

Occupant Beth Saidel (senior marketing manager, the Phillips Group architecture firm)

So tell me everything. Part of my story is that I’m an artist. I’m a very creative person. I’ve always been someone who upholstered my own furniture. Even in college in the late ’70s, I had dorm rooms that people had to come see. I didn’t want them to look cookie-cutter, like anybody else’s. I moved to New York from D.C. a year ago. I was living with a doctor. He had a big house in Adams Morgan. It was beautiful. But I didn’t feel like it was mine, and I really couldn’t do what I wanted with the house. When we decided we didn’t want to get married—we were together almost six years—I moved into what I felt was like a trash compactor of an apartment. I was determined to make it as much mine as it could be possibly be. Last year I came to New York and lived briefly with a man in Chelsea. I don’t want to talk about that. For a few months, I was basically living out of boxes, then I found this. I nested in here so quickly, your head would spin. This building has families, people my age. I’m 41. When I walk in a place, I have an intuitive feel whether I can live there or not. I had this vision; I could imagine it. Every place I’ve lived in on my own has felt reliable to me. It’s because I’ve made it mine. Anyone who knows me could walk into a hundred apartments and know which one is mine. I went to Harvard—studio art major. I’m from Dayton, Ohio. I had a scholarship at the Joffrey when I was 16. My father always brought me to New York because of the dance. He was a dentist, now he’s the art reviewer for the local paper. He totally is my biggest fan in terms of creativity. He thinks everything I touch turns to gold. There’s a story and meaning behind everything in my apartment. My love seat, it’s a Victorian shell shape. When I saw it in the store, I curled up in it. My friend looked at me and said, “It’s yours.” I had it redone in raspberry velvet. When I finished it, I had a champagne and raspberry party because I figured if anybody spilled on it, it wouldn’t show. This is kind of a good story: A week after September 11, I got this Paul McCobb bookcase that was sitting outside this gallery on Eighth below 14th. It was reduced. I realized I had to carry it home. It was actually sort of hurting to carry it. You know everybody’s mood at that point; everybody was everybody else’s best friend. This guy said, “Can I help you?” He helped me carry it to my door. We talked about what happened in the days before. It was just so meaningful to me. Here’s a picture of me in India with a bull. I lived in India from ’87 to ’88 with an architect who got a grant to document the Moghul Gardens. We lived on a houseboat in Kashmir. My brother was in Greece then. He had climbed to the top of Mount Olympus. He came down the mountain and was killed in an auto accident. That year was beauty and enormous tragedy. This is the first piece of art I ever bought. It’s a Walt Whitman poem, a collage. The artist committed suicide not long after I bought it. I love collages; I do them myself. My apartment is sort of a collage of me. This is my grandmother’s photo. There were a lot of beautiful, artistic women in my family. This pussy-willow pear is from Chicago. I was seeing a man there for two years. I remember where I bought everything. I can even remember what I paid. I remember the little stall in Paris where I got these silver tins. This gazing ball from the ’20s. Here’s a photo of me on a trapeze. I studied trapeze for three summers at a circus school. It’s like dancing in the air, very cool. I love heights. Maybe it’s from being sort of short; I’m five-two. I was always standing on the furniture as a kid so I could get a better vantage point. And I love having people stay in my apartment. I’m like a real nurturer. I always think how it would be for people to be in the space with me. In my apartments, there’s a real power. It’s not materialistic. I also know that people who are going to be in my life are going to respond to my apartment. They’re going to know a lot about me and . . . All right, enough about me.

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