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Everything Here Sparks Joy

How professional stylist-organizer and unabashed maximalist Jeanie Engelbach transformed a white box in the East Village.

The living room. Photo: Rikki Snyder
The living room. Photo: Rikki Snyder

Jeanie Engelbach, owner and founder of apartmentjeanie, practiced what she preaches when it came to her move this past summer in the East Village. Her new digs were a mere two blocks away from her old place, but moving is moving, and after 25 years, even this pro had much to edit. Her current business is predicated on her past experiences deploying her visual and organizational talents at Bergdorf Goodman and ABC Carpet & Home, so she knew what she had to do. She had seen an advertisement for the EVGB apartments on Instagram, and once she found out she had to move, she toured three different units before making her decision. “Part of what I do as an organizer is help people to learn how to make fast decisions,” Jeanie told me. “So I moved in in July and basically had my entire apartment ready before I left for my vacation three weeks later.” The key to this decisiveness, it turns out, is intent and discipline.

In the living room, shown above, the sofa from Interior Define is new, but the perfectly weathered bench acting as a coffee table was from Jeanie’s old apartment and came from the original Anthropologie store in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 1994. “I lost about 225 square feet moving from the old apartment to this new one,” Jeanie notes, so she had to weigh what would work and what had to go. “I made paper templates of all the things I was hoping to bring with me and laid them out on the floor. I wanted to be intentional about what moves into the apartment. There was none of this, ‘I’ll decide when I get it there.’ And quite frankly, I would never let my clients move into a space like that.” The double mirror was a street find in Dumbo. “It weighed a ridiculous amount,” Jeanie says, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. She retrieved it with the help of her visual staff at the Dumbo outpost of ABC Carpet & Home, who hauled it over to the store to give her time to figure out how get it to the East Village.

Although the apartment is a rental, Jeanie pulled out all the stops when it came to her wish list. One thing she had been coveting was Flavor Paper’s Luxury wallpaper in Golden Rose, and she used it liberally in the living room and kitchen. Benjamin Moore’s Sunbeam yellow paint gives the kitchen an extra pop of energy, and owing to space constraints, Jeanie settled on moving only two dining chairs from the set she purchased at Workbench. The dining table, a 1991 find from Conran’s, was previously painted in leopard spots, with a floral design on top, by a friend. Tater Tot, Jeanie’s bulldog, enjoys his patchwork patterned bed from Lion + Wolf. Photo: Rikki Snyder
The opposite side of the living room is a festival of eye-catching finds, including the display of three batches of framed Pez dispensers. Jeanie explains her Pez fixation: “I love candy, I love cartoons, and actually Pez is a great collectible, and the fact is it is fun and cheap and you can buy them anywhere.” Jeanie said that at last count she had 650 Pez dispensers. “What isn’t on display is stored in lunch boxes, by category, of course.” The “You’ll Do” print by Jealous Gallery was found at the Affordable Art Fair, and above the TV is a railing from a carnival carousel. Photo: Rikki Snyder
The bedroom is anchored by the same Flavor Paper wallpaper as the living room, but in the turquoise color. The pale jade sideboard is from ABC Carpet & Home, and all the bed linens are from Ann Gish. Photo: Rikki Snyder
“I used to describe my home as if Betsey Johnson decorated Pee-wee’s Playhouse that was located in Candy Land,” Jeanie says, laughing. “I have a strong sense of style in myself, and it doesn’t have to be for anybody else.” The panda-bear Warhol poster above the bed was a gift from her parents, who got it from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh when it first opened. “I had it museum-mounted so I could hang it as art.” The Atlas air-conditioning service box was found at the Brooklyn Flea Market. “I wasn’t looking for it,” Jeanie says, but after seeing it, she called the dealer and bought it over the phone. It was a sideboard in the dining room of her last apartment; today it contains stationery and art supplies. “My previous night table didn’t have the storage capabilities, so it didn’t make the cut for the new apartment.” The Bozo the Clown art is a mixed collage called John Wayne, by artist Greg Gossel. Photo: Rikki Snyder
The rare white wall in the bedroom features a collection of old seltzer and medicine bottles on a salvaged door frame that acts as a shelf. Jeanie has had to curtail collecting more bottles in deference to a lack of space. The cracked antique oval frame that once held a mirror is now used as a memento board. “I really love living here,” Jeanie says. “I am not losing my neighborhood; I am not losing the edge that I like of the East Village. I thought it would be bittersweet to leave my old building, but the transition was pretty smooth. I mean, even my dog — I thought he would have a hard time and want to keep going back to the old building, but no, he just walks right past it now.” Photo: Rikki Snyder

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