Self-Help Guru Finds Balance in a Highly Curated NYC Retreat
Proper Work-Life Balance Requires Proper Design
When you work exclusively out of your home, achieving a proper work-life balance can be a challenge…
But when your home also happens to be a 650-square-foot New York City apartment, physical boundaries between work and personal life can feel virtually non-existent. (Bonus points if you’ve got kids thrown into the mix!)
How can you successfully manage a career and a household all in one place — without becoming completely overwhelmed? Easy: Just ask Karen Salmansohn.
As an award-winning designer, personal development coach, and internationally acclaimed self-help author, Karen knows a thing or two about finding balance. After overcoming a series of personal struggles, Karen went on to write dozens of best-selling books on the topics of trauma and recovery, personal growth, and discovering happiness.
To date, she’s written over 40 award-winning books, landed five TV development deals, become a certified yoga and meditation instructor, and she’s a mom to an awesome nine-year-old son, Ari — all while managing her business and personal brand out of her one-bedroom apartment in the Flatiron District.
Room for Work, Play, and Family
“We live in a very cool downtown area of New York City,” Karen says in her article on her home renovation process, “Which is code for ‘small’ – but we sure love this neighborhood!”
Her trick to mastering it all from a tiny home: design every square inch with intention. A carefully curated ensemble of transforming and multipurpose furniture from Resource allows Karen to seamlessly transition from work life to home life to mom life — without the added stress or clutter that typically comes with small urban spaces.
Karen worked with the design team at Resource to create a transforming furniture configuration that met all of her family’s needs. For Karen, that meant having a designated place to sleep, work, store clothes, and exercise. For Ari, who occupies the apartment’s sole bedroom, it required an extra-long desk for his homework, computer, and art projects; a second twin bed for sleepovers with friends; and a storage system that could accommodate his clothes, bike, scooter, skateboard and guitar. A hefty wish-list for a tiny apartment, indeed — but nothing that couldn’t be accomplished with a little space-planning and creative thinking.
Since the bedroom belongs to Ari, Karen modified the living area with the help of a sofa wall bed and a custom modular storage system from Resource. The Ito sofa wall bed allows the 12’ x 23’ space to function as a living room by day, complete with a reclining sofa for family movie nights; at night, the Ito instantly transforms into a queen-size bed with the simple pull of a handle, located discretely beneath the storage shelf.
The Ito’s ultra-small footprint also allows the room to convert into a home gym. When it’s time for her morning stretches and meditations, Karen simply moves her lightweight, geometric coffee table, and rolls out the yoga mat or the workout trampoline, which is neatly stowed away in her modular storage and closet system.
The open-concept living/dining area is outfitted with a circular, rolling dining table, which provides the perfect perch for Karen to work on her writing. The dining table’s super-slender base and white-marble top blends seamlessly with the rest of the home’s sleek, modern décor. Casters allow the table to move around the room with ease; after all, everything in this home is specifically designed to be hyper-fluid and adaptable.
Take a brief glance around and it becomes clear why Karen calls this space the “spa room” — calming shades of white are everywhere, dotted here and there by metallic accents, lots of greenery, and a custom Eskayel wallcovering adorning the Ito wall bed. Sculptural, yet visually lightweight and unobtrusive décor, like the Rebus freestanding storage unit from Resource; unique crystalline light fixtures; and original art pieces lend the space an unmistakably eclectic yet soothing vibe. It’s an atmosphere that invites and relaxes, no matter how the room is being utilized — which explains why Karen uses it for just about everything.
All the Space a Kid Could Need
When it came time to tackle Ari’s room, it was important that the bedroom not only check every functional requirement on his wish list, but also that it “flowed” stylistically with the rest of the home. “I had already created a ‘modern’ and ‘clean’ interior design for our home,” Karen said. “I wanted my son’s bedroom to match well with our whole home.”
With the help of the Resource design team, Karen selected two single-sized wall beds: one Kali twin wall bed, and one Kali Ponte Board wall bed with upper hanging closet storage and an integrated, 7-foot long writing desk. Ari uses the Kali as his bed, and closes it up during the day to open the room for activities. “When the beds are in ‘flatwall mode’ Ari can play Nerf basketball with his friends on the small hoop we have hanging up on his door” Karen says. And with the addition of the Kali Ponte Board, Ari has all the storage a kid could need — plus an extra bed for his overnight guests, and a spacious desk for his impressive gaming computer rig.
Hanging on the wall beside the Kali wall bed is Ari’s custom hanging storage set-up, where he displays his bike, skateboards, scooter, helmets, and guitar. “We decided to openly store these as a fun wall art design,” Karen continues. The display brings vibrant pops of color to the otherwise white, clean and bright room — a playful decorative element that also serves a practical purpose, and makes excellent use of vertical space.
Designing with Intention
Indeed, it’s apparent that Karen has created (and maintained) a designated spot for just about everything in this tiny retreat — whether its Ari’s sports gear, her work station supplies, or work-out equipment. “When it comes to home improvement,” Karen explains, “plan everything in advance…make drawings on your floor plan, and measure everything meticulously.” It may take time to create a clear and concise plan, she says, but you will be glad you did.
Looking for more helpful home redesign tips and inspiration? Read Karen Salmansohn’s best tips for home improvement on her website, NotSalmon.com.
Follow Karen Salmansohn on Instagram: @notsalmon