Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu.
For our latest feature, we interview Heather Summers and explore her beautiful home in New York City. Heather’s light and bright home invites you right in and we can't wait to show you around.
First off, please, introduce yourself!
My name is Heather Summers. I live in New York City with my husband, Michael, and our three daughters, Lennon (5), Georgie, (3.5), and James (2). Our time here so far has been spent navigating living in 600sqft as a family of five, learning and growing in our creative/professional pursuits alongside parenthood, and doing our best to soak up all the life and inspiration NYC has to offer. We feel so grateful to be able to call the city home right now.
How long have you been living in NYC?
We moved here in August of 2021. We lived in Austin, TX for a few years, then Sacramento, CA for a few years after that, and made the move to NYC when my husband decided to go back to school after years in the corporate world. It’s been quite an adventure!
Can you tell us a bit about your apartment?
We live in a 600sqft apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s a second-floor walkup with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a kitchen/dining/living room combo of sorts. :) We are so grateful to have found a place with lots of natural light and a really lovely view of the park (that view is so good for morale when small space living feels especially tight!). It has high ceilings, white walls, and wood floors which we also love.
What did you find most challenging about living in a relatively small space with a young family of 5?
The older our daughters get, the more active and rambunctious they become - which I’m sure you can imagine can be tricky when you only have 600sqft and no yard to run around in! Sometimes just the general lack of space can feel tricky in this regard. Having easy park access makes this much easier! Storage is also tricky, especially in the kitchen. We have very few places to store all the things one might keep in a pantry and pretty much anticipate a food avalanche every time we open one of the kitchen cabinets, ha!
Any basic (or unconventional?) tips for space saving that you lean into?
When in doubt, go up! Maximize the vertical space that you have – shelves on the walls for books, peg rails for coats + bags, hanging baskets and stackable storage crates for the kids’ toys, use wall sconces vs. table lamps where you can, etc. Constantly edit your things to make sure you only have what you truly need and love so the excess doesn’t take up unnecessary space!
What is one of your favourite things about the city in springtime?
The winters feel so long here, so when signs of spring start to show up it really energizes the whole city, which is such a refreshing feeling. Cherry blossoms and daffodils start to pop up everywhere and it’s just absolutely beautiful. I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for daffodils now that I’ve lived here - they bring so much joy after the winter!
How are your kids enjoying NYC?
Oh, they absolutely love it. Seeing it all through their eyes has been one of the most amazing things about living here. They just think it’s all so exciting - riding the subway, schlepping around with the stroller filled to the brim with stuff to get us through the day, hopping in a taxi, etc. It’s also so fun to see how normal it all feels to them now - they know the drill when it comes to getting on the subway safely and think every car is a taxi now, haha! They’re being exposed to so many things, and in such formative years – so much culture and creativity and diversity. We are so grateful to be able to raise them here in this season.
What are some of your favourite ways to welcome spring into your space?
Flowers, flowers, flowers! I have always loved arranging flowers and filling every room with them, but I feel like the joy it brings me has only grown since moving to NYC. One of my all time favorite things to do is to go to the Flower District early in the morning, grab a coffee and a croissant at Cafe De Avignon on 28th St, and wander through all the flower shops to my heart’s content. It just never gets old and will always be one of my favorite pastimes. Another way I like to welcome spring into our home is to rearrange everything - I always get the urge to move things around and give our space a bit of a refresh when the seasons change!
When it comes to adorning your home, how would you describe your personal style?
I always have such a hard time answering this question! I appreciate and am inspired by so many different styles and feel like my personal style is constantly changing. That being said, I would definitely describe it as warm, neutral, and considered. I love starting with a neutral foundation and bringing in textures + vintage pieces to add interest (fresh flowers and my daughters’ artwork brighten things up, too!).
Do you have a favourite room or viewpoint in the apartment that you tend to gravitate toward?
The girls’ room, hands down. Theirs is the only one with two windows and they get the most natural light of any room in the apartment. We live in a corner unit, and they have the loveliest corner window in their room that looks out over the park. We’ve turned the ledge underneath it into a little window seat of sorts with a cushion and some pillows, and the girls will sit there for hours – watching dogs in the park, waving to people on the double-decker buses, counting taxis, and waving at passersby. It’s really special.
We understand your home in NYC may not be permanent, but do you think it’s a place that you’ll frequently visit when you move?
100%. We love this city so much – it will always have a special place in our hearts and in our family. We’ve already decided that if we don’t end up staying here long term, we will do everything we can to make it back once a year! We love it too much to stay away. It’ll be even more special to bring the girls back here when they’re older and show them all the things we did together when they were little!
Who or what are some of your biggest design inspirations?
I could spend hours and hours on Pinterest and definitely found lots of inspiration there. Nature is also a huge source of inspiration - I love incorporating neutral/earth tones and seasonal florals into our home. Last but not least, I’m constantly inspired by my family. I want our girls to feel totally comfortable in our home, both physically and emotionally – free to make messes and build pillow forts with the couch cushions and just be kids. Fostering that and making sure nothing is too precious is really important when it comes to designing our home.