Thomas O'Brien

I bought American Modern when it was first released, but I've been spending an inordinate amount of time leafing through it these days. Remember I declared Tricia Foley my design mentor? Is it okay if I have another? Much as I adore Foley's style, I'm not sure I'm as disciplined as she is. At first, the idea of becoming that disciplined was attractive. But only in the way that joining a nunnery was when I was a little girl.


I think, in Foley's case, it comes naturally. But for me, it would be a constant tug-of-war. However, I think there are some significant overlaps between Foley and O'Brien. I see lots of the mahogany that I was craving in this post about Georgian style. But I also see more greys and much more of a bookish, masculine feel in O'Brien, which suits me too.

I know, I'm obsessing about my place these days. But much as I'm obsessing about decor, I'm also knotted up over pragmatic concerns. I'm bothered by the untapped potential in my apartment; it's definitely big enough for me but the use of space is dreadful. For instance, my hall closet is 4ft deep, but it's one big cavern. Every inch of space matters when you're living in a 700 sq ft apartment.


So, much as I'm dreaming of antique fairs and fabrics, I'm also thinking about trips to Home Depot and Ikea and trying to understand the limits of what I can justifiably add to an apartment that is, after all, not mine, but a rental. I love this place so much, it's difficult not to want to make it better in every possible way. Are you a renter? What's the most you would do to your place?

Images scanned from American Modern by Thomas O'Brien & Lisa Light.
Photography by Laura Resen
Published by Abrams
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