Take a look at Gloria Steinem’s apartment (1970)
Of her New York apartment, Steinem wrote: “After too much moving… cheerful rooms to live in, a private place to work.”
By Gloria Steinem (Photography by Horst)
The sleeping balcony allows me to use the other room in my brownstone floor-through as an office.
The corner under the balcony was useless anyway, except as a dining room for the sit-down dinners I never give. Now, it’s good for sprawling around and listening to music or just talking.
The big pillows cost all of $7 each (an invention of Jane’s small decorating firm, Hitana), the little plastic tables came from Albrizzi, and the Indian dishes are the rewards of travel. The whole balcony is bolted to the wall and can be taken away — a necessity imposed by New York landlords.
If I’m smiling, it’s because I have a grown-up apartment at last.
Steinem’s “grown up” ’70s apartment in New York
One day, I figured out that I had not been completely unpacked in eight years. College books were still stored in some dormitory attic, patient friends were keeping more books plus mementos of two years in India, and my mother was looking after clothes and letters unsorted since high school days.
I’d had several apartments, but none I really liked. For three years, I’d been living in a studio that was pleasant but much too small: Friends referred to its decor as “Pop-Art-Collier-Brothers.”
Since I work at home, I was determined to find a decent-sized apartment, and to do something about making it a cheerful place to be.
This may not sound unusual to normal people who live in houses and work from nine to five, but for a transitory New Yorker, especially a freelance writer who lives an odd unstructured life, it was a major decision.
It took nearly a year to find the apartment, and a year after that I still have things to do.
“If I don’t work well in this room, the fault can only be mine.”
The decoration got done in fits and starts: First, a junkyard yielded fragments of somebody’s old front porch, which made a perfect sleeping balcony; then I found an out-of-work art director to nail it up.
Finally, Jane Holzer, an actress with a genius for color and beautiful bargains, helped me find printed fabric for the curtains and walls and Indian scarves for the alcove under the balcony, because I wanted a reminder of India.
The couches at the other end of the living room, are good ones, down-filled, bought secondhand, and slipcovered with the wall fabric.
The Italian benches are remnants of another apartment, as is the Bermuda bed in my workroom. Its cotton flame-stitch cover dictated the wall and curtains, but I liked Jane’s idea of adding an under-curtain for depth. Posters and friendly faces disguise a big cupboard.
The 12-inch cubicles are my favorite kind of bookcase, the country roulette wheel was another wrecking company find, and that’s actress Jeanne Moreau in the fireplace.
Gloria Steinem on the cover of Newsweek magazine (1971)