Fun and Function Define This Interior Design Student’s Eclectic, Black-and-White Manhattan Studio

Carrie Carrollo is committed to contradictory decor in her playful New York City studio. And it all started with a set of black-and-white salt and pepper shakers that quickly fueled a quirky obsession with everything zebra.

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March 31, 2020

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Home, Sweet Eclectic Home

Freelance writer, lifestyle YouTuber and interior design student Carrie Carrollo surrounds herself with lots of her favorite things, things that don’t always fit perfectly into a cookie-cutter design theme. “My style is eclectic, overwhelmingly. A little kitschy, a little quirky for sure, and also fun and feminine,” she says.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

No Love for Partitions

A big selling point in many homes is natural light, and this apartment definitely has it. “A lot of people separate their studios with a bookshelf or something like that, and I really wanted to emphasize the open layout and also the light in here,” Carrie says. “So I use rugs and intentional decor pieces like a bookshelf to separate the space without putting up any walls or partitions.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Dainty, Double-Duty Dining Area

Working from home in a small space means furniture must be multi-functional. Carrie's dining area doubles as a home office, and lacks nothing in style, with two beautiful suede chairs and a key element that sparked her idea for the whole space.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

A Dash of Design Inspo

“These salt and pepper shakers were a housewarming/birthday gift from one of my best friends and actually were the first black-and-white pattern that I had in here,” Carrie recalls. “And I remember saying to her that I was going to have too many black-and-white patterns, that it was going to look crazy — and then I flipped the script and really committed to the mismatched black-and-white.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Meet Loretta ... the Friendly Houseplant

“This is my largest real plant in the apartment. She’s the only one with a name. Her name is Loretta, and I take very good care of her. She’s grown a lot. We’re friends. I love her.”

Keys to Success: How to Care for a Snake Plant

And Loretta Has Friends

While houseplants have been praised for their many health benefits, they also provide visual beauty in almost any space. Carrie is doubling down on this trend. “This area was just a mirror and then it turned into a plant area somehow," Carrie says. "Most of these are actually real, some of them are fake, which I’m planning on swapping out."

Become a Plant Person: 20 Homes Made Prettier (+ Healthier) With Houseplants

A Dabble With DIY

Carrie’s love for DIY extends from one corner of her Manhattan apartment to the other, starting with a little zebra-print wallpaper. “This bookshelf is one of the first DIY projects in the space, and also to this day, one of my favorites,” Carrie says.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Wildlife Inside

“I saw this wallpaper pattern and loved it, and needed a use for it, and decided to do it,” Carrie says smiling. “This is like an accent wall without having to commit to a wall.”

Buy the Wallpaper: Etsy, $45.20-$226.01

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You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

As a former fashion editor, Carrie’s accumulation of earrings turned into a stylish display. “I really like statement earrings specifically, and jewelry in general. I found this little spinning acrylic earring holder, which is pretty much at capacity right now, but it’s great and super functional.”

No More Tangles: 13 Jewelry Organizers to Keep Your Baubles in One Place

Quirky Black-and-White Bedding

Carrie’s characteristic style with black-and-white mismatched patterns extend to the bedding, keeping the animal theme going. Note the adorable cat-and-dog-shaped pillows.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Periodic Table Wall Art

Everyone remembers the first piece of art they purchased, right? “I think the first thing that I bought was my periodic table of trash poster,” laughs Carrie. “I had always wanted a large art piece…and it helped set the tone for the color and quirkiness of the space.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Gallery of Favorites

Gallery walls have evolved from perfectly matched frames and layouts, to perfectly grouped collections of images and things that tell a bigger story. Similar to the rest of her space, Carrie’s gallery wall showcases a pinch of personality and a deeper look at the woman who designed it.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Float Framed Life Lesson

“Another favorite thing is a little framed card that’s on my gallery wall which I got in my high school photography class,” Carrie says. “It just says, ‘I don’t know. I’m still learning.’ And it’s been through eight apartments with me and almost 10 years now. It's torn up, has been a bookmark and everything in between. And I just think it’s a really cute little reminder.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Hidden From Plain Sight

At first sight, this fun, eclectic living room pops with black-and-white dotted wallpaper, an emerald green rug and warm wooden console table. But under the surface, this small space packs a lot of secret storage.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Check Out My Drawers

“I have a lot of stuff that needs to be hidden and stored," she explains. Of course, Carrie outfitted her dresser with zebra-head hardware. "I think that's partially where the eclectic nature of this space comes from. I had to make all the things that I like work together."

Buy the Zebra Drawer Pulls: Etsy, $42.56

That Zebra Life

Speaking of, we wouldn’t be discussing the home of Carrie Carrollo without discussing her growing obsession with everything zebra. “I have a lot of zebras in this space, which was kind of not intentional and now is intentional,” Carrie says gleefully. “This is kind of a more recent addition, I would say within the last six months — my ceramic zebra. I saw that and immediately my heart was racing, and I was like, ‘Give me this! I’ll Venmo you right now!’”

Buy The Rug: Joss & Main, $229.00

From the Family Collection

All whimsy aside, Carrie’s home also features a few very special pieces that can’t be quickly scooped up on Etsy. According to her, “My favorite piece in my apartment, by far, is this clock. It’s from my grandparents’ collection of antique clocks. It has a lot of character and I think it’s from the 1800s which is really cool.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Bathroom Based on Towels

Wallpaper makes a big statement in this small bathroom, and it’s all based on a simple set of towels. “I moved to New York with a set of towels that I had gotten at Target,” Carrie says. “When I decided I wanted to do more to the bathroom, I just played off the things I already had and committed to that blue color.”

Buy the Wallpaper: Etsy, $36.00-$147.00

Wanted: More Wallpaper

Carrie’s apartment features lots of unique, patterned wallpaper, on the DIY bookshelf and in the living room and bathroom. The kitchen is no different. Originally just a plain wall, she worked with the artist that designed all the other colorful wallpapers in her apartment and chose a yellow and green floral design perfect for the space.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Don’t Like It? Cover it!

According to Carrie, the kitchen was the most outdated space in the whole apartment. “So a few months after I moved in…I wanted to tackle the kitchen,” Carrie says. “The very first thing I did was put marble contact paper on the countertops, and then I wanted to do more. I had seen peel-and-stick backsplash on YouTube and various places, so I wanted to try that.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

A Labor of Laminate Love

The last DIY task Carrie tackled was her most challenging yet: the kitchen floors. “They were originally like vinyl squares that you have in classrooms at school. And so I figured out that temporary floor planks are a thing,” Carrie remarked. “There’s a bunch of different types and they don’t have to be adhesive.”

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

Don’t Be Afraid of Design Commitment

Make your space your own by “finding little connecting pieces and committing to it, and not being worried about one very specific style,” Carrie says. And, if you love zebras, design your space with zebras.

Watch the Video: How an Interior Designer-in-Training Does Small Space

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