Embracing the Character of This Albany Rental Made for a Warm and Colorful Home


The circumstances for nurse anesthetist Kaitlin Spring’s upstate apartment search were far from ideal. She and her boyfriend, also in the health care field, had accepted job offers at a hospital in Albany just before the pandemic surged in New York in the spring. From their Brooklyn apartment, they made the six-hour round-trip drive to Albany in April and were able to tour what would become their apartment alone, masked and gloved, thanks to a trusting landlord.

Nurse anesthetist and vintage dealer Kaitlin Spring and one of her two pups in the primary bedroom. 

Drawn to the natural light of the home, the first floor of a two-story building, and undeterred by the super dark floors and wood paneling, Kaitlin saw the potential of the space to be a bright and comfortable refuge. In fact, when the landlord offered to cover up the original walls in a lighter shade, Kaitlin turned him down. “It feels so special to have something that’s tied to the legacy of the family that lived here,” she explains.

Along with the legacy of the interior, she also inherited the previous tenant. “The same woman lived here for like 60 years. She still stops by sometimes and has coffee with the neighbors,” Kaitlin says with a laugh, clearly charmed. And like any good neighbors, they’ve been inserting themselves into Kaitlin and her boyfriend’s life, campaigning for the couple to make it official and buy the place. 

An adorable corner for the bar and a pair of great lamps. 

Moving from a small Brooklyn apartment to a two-bedroom home outside of NYC meant upsizing, big time. In the months between signing the lease and actually making the move, Kaitlin found herself in the throes of working at her hospital in Brooklyn and separated from her partner, who’d already moved to start his new gig in Albany. She spent her off-hours furnishing the apartment remotely, working from measurements she’d taken and virtually combing the inventory of Brooklyn vintage dealers like Home Union, Adaptations, and Dobbin St. Co-op, which allowed her to imagine the light at the end of the very dark tunnel the pandemic had created. She found herself thinking, “We’re going to get through this and then we’re going to have this awesome house that we’ve really planned.” Dedicating herself to the decorating project took her mind off of work, the pandemic, and being in a temporarily long-distance relationship: “That was definitely therapy for me.” 

Another go-with-the-flow moment. Kaitlin loved the cloud-shaped shelf over the bed (with built-in lights!) but wasn’t enthused about the unsightly dangling cords, so she adorned them with faux eucalyptus. Bedding by Dusen Dusen; bedroom set sourced from Dobbin St. Co-op

The move itself was far less therapeutic. In an effort to be as COVID-conscious as possible, the couple and one friend in their pod spent an intense day packing a moving truck with all of their remaining possessions in Fort Greene and coordinating pickups of all the furniture Kaitlin had acquired to take with them. There was a separate ride arranged for all of the plants. 

A reformed minimalist, Kaitlin found herself moving away from the midcentury trend over the past few years and gravitating toward the groovy, bubbly shapes of ’70s and ’80s decor. She also fully leans color and brightness these days. As for her design philosophy, she works from a place of organic intention: “I really do believe that if you buy things that you really love that speak to you, a lot of times they come together,” she says. “I try not to be super impulsive. If I see something that I’m interested in like a color or a shape, or I get inspired by Pinterest or Instagram, I’ll save it and then, sometimes it’s weird, but I’ll do reverse Google image searches so I can find similar items. I’ll think about it for a little bit, try to decide if it works in the space. But I really think that if it speaks to me, a lot of it will go together.” 

Though her landlord offered to swap out the wall color, Kaitlin chose to keep the bright robin’s-egg blue that was chosen by the property manager’s wife before she moved in. Plant stand by Ikea, side tables by nine fourteen.

Kaitlin and her partner decided against any major renovations to the space and purchased functional pieces like this HAY shelf and storage crates to house important kitchen objects—including her extensive mug collection. Despite the extra space in their new home, her boyfriend has since made two requests: “No more mugs and no more lamps!”

As is immediately clear from the decor, Kaitlin has a penchant for finding delightful vintage pieces large and small. She’s as much a collector of candles and lamps as she is of tables and sofas. Aside from the backyard for the couple’s dogs and more living space overall—not to mention the lower rent—the move came with another unexpected bright side: more storage for her vintage finds, which she has recently turned into a bustling side hustle. “I don’t want my house to become a hoarder home, but I also want to share the love,” she said of her collecting habit. “One of my de-stressing outlets is constantly looking at eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist—I’m really on a marketplace kick lately.”

On the dining room console sits a bowl by Sophie Gori, mirror by Bougie Woogie.

And as for her favorite space in the house, Kaitlin says the dining room is where she’s most looking forward to spending time with friends and hosting when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, she’ll be appointing the space to perfection. “I’ve been downgrading my clothes closet so I can buy more home things and just stuff them in there and pull them out for different vignettes.”

Yet another shade of wood paneling and much of Kaitlin’s candle collection can be found in the porch they’ve converted to a guest bedroom. Chair by Kartell found secondhand. 

🛍 Shop It Out

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Trust your instincts: “Once you are on the hunt for something, I don’t know if you manifest it or what, but I thought ‘Oh, I really like candles’ and then I just started seeing them everywhere.” 

Mix and match your sources: Kaitlin’s found luck thrifting, but sometimes it can be easier to just buy new from merchants you like. A few of her favorite sources include kitchen supply shops, Nata Concept Store and HAY. “I worked overtime one time and decided to spend it on a big order from Fabrek in Copenhagen. It’s worth it.” Spoken like a true collector.

Warm your wood with rugs: Kaitlin’s go-to is Rahba Tribal.

More mugs, the merrier: Trusted makers include Studio Hecha and Kuu Pottery.





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