Good Housekeeping’s Associate Lifestyle Editor Amanda Garrity loves color and has an eye for smart design when it comes to storage. This is no more clear than in her apartment on New York’s Upper East Side, where she harmonizes her organizational needs with the delight of display. It’s a colorful, relaxing space with plentiful but meticulously curated nooks for comfort items like seasonal candles and holiday decorations (even more important now that she’s working from home every day).
Amanda recently shared with writer Audrey Wachs how the stories of two beloved items — one new, and one she’s been toting around for years — reflect her space’s style, and why personal items can routinely inspire you to decorate in new ways.
AW: How have you turned your apartment into a place that really feels like home, especially at this time?
AG: Now that I’m working from home, it is so important to have a space that isn’t cluttered. You have to find a way to work with however much space you have, and most people in New York have so little space! I live in a flexible-bedroom setting so I’ve had to be very creative with, for example, using [see-through shelving] as room dividers without losing natural light.
It’s also important to have a space that really reflects your personality. I really love very feminine styles, pink, white — I love that light and bright clean look.
How intentional is the arrangement of your book collection?
I love to use aesthetically pleasing books like this to decorate. In New York, I think people stay away from books because it can just look cluttered, but I want to infuse color into my space and books can be a cost-effective way to do that. They’re also something you can use — cookbooks have gorgeous colors, but then inside, you have all these great recipes. I have a pretty expansive collection, but I’m also selective about the books I bring into my home—fiction books I can read on a Kindle, and I’m fine with that. It’s worth it to have books that look really beautiful or hold some kind of personal meaning.
I see you have a brand-new book on your desk with a tropical cover. Can you tell me about it?
I got this book at an event at the (now shuttered) Lilly Pulitzer store on the Upper East Side. It’s a really beautiful coffee table book, put together by Lilly’s daughter, and it walks through Lilly’s whole history of creating the brand in Palm Beach, Florida. It includes images of the stores and shift dresses in different prints from years ago.
They had an artist [at the event] who painted the Lilly print on the inside of the book. Regardless of whether you’re the biggest Lilly fan or not, it’s one of those brands that just has a very specific look. There are a lot of bright pinks and neons, whites, and big florals — and it really encapsulates Palm Beach style. It’s also a really cool history of a brand that’s just iconic, especially in America.
Tell me about this vintage-looking wicker basket. Where is it from?
It was a housewarming gift, so to speak. I had studied abroad in London, and one of my good friends from school was studying abroad there when I first moved to New York. Fortnum & Mason is a huge luxury grocery store founded in the 1700s, and it is loved by the Royals. When I was in London, I bought a tea that they served for Kate and William’s wedding.
Anyway, my friend sent this to me — they’re called hampers, and they arrive full of things like jam, tea, cookies, and crackers. On the top it has F&M painted in black, short for Fortnum & Mason. It’s a basic, glossy wicker basket, but there’s a handle so you could carry it like a picnic basket if you wanted, and there are also two leather straps and buckles so, when closed, it looks sleek and polished. It’s the perfect size for storage.
It makes me think always of my friend and the time I studied in London. I’ve had it now for years, and it’s traveled with me from apartment to apartment.
What lives in it right now?
I have quite a candle collection, so it’s where I store my candles that are not being used. Growing up, my mom was never a fan of us having candles in the house, because we had pets. But I have become a crazy candle person; they just bring such a sense of peace. In my job, I work with a lot of brands and do a lot of gift guides, so I just have an influx of candles that come in from work, which is always wonderful.
In the past I’ve used it as my memento basket — storing cards, photos, throw blankets, things like that. I love it because it is beautiful enough to leave out, but it’s functional; I keep things in it that I can reach easily. You would never know what’s tucked inside.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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