A Colorful, Soulful, & Joyful, Harlem Home — House Call


Name: Habiba Koroma and her two-year-old son Miles
Location: Harlem, New York
Size: 630 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting

A native New Yorker and an interior designer, Habiba Koroma moved to Harlem from Hell’s Kitchen five years ago. “I fell in love with the vibrancy and soul of the neighborhood, and try to reflect that same energy in my home. I love my spacious and light-filled one-bedroom, which has really grown with me over the years.” It was a sweet bachelorette pad, but when baby Miles came along, Habiba had to turn it into a kid-friendly home…that was still stylish!

Most impressively, Habiba was able to use smart furniture placement planning to create many different “zones” in only a 630-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment: an entry area, a living room seating and lounge area, a dining area, and a play area for Miles (which used to be her office).

“My design approach has been to make my home Miles-proof and playful without sacrificing style and sophistication. It is a balance that I achieve by adding pops of bright color and whimsical accents like the large abacus (from Etsy) hung over the bar, which used to be Miles’ changing table.”

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Curated, colorful, soulful, joyful and Miles-proof (my nearly two-year-old son)!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My most recent home purchase is the Hello Coat Rack that works perfectly in my entry. The cheery and cheeky, coat rack designed by UK studio, Block Design, adds some whimsy to the gallery entry wall. You won’t believe it but it took months for me to find the right coat rack. I was so excited when I stumbled upon this rack after doing a search on Instagram for #coatrack. I was flooded with great choices but the Hello Coat rack checked all the boxes. I ended up scooping up the rack from one of my favs, the MoMA Design Store.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room or rather living zone is Miles’ play area. Using a bookshelf as a room divider in the living room, I was able to effectively create a space where Miles could reign. The anchor of the space is an IKEA Kura bunk bed, which serves as an amazing springboard to create fun nooks for play and learning. I employed Montessori principles when conceiving of the design. All items like the library, whiteboard, and hanging yarn installation are on Miles’ level, which encourages his independent exploration.

The top bunk has been transformed into a ball pit and the wall behind the bunk bed boasts a large rasterized portrait that captures Miles’ spunky spirit. While this area is all about fun, I made sure to maintain an eye for high style by using an array of refined patterned textiles. The palette includes a mix of black gingham (cushion), bold orange (bolster pillows) and colorful dots (rug and throw pillows) which reference the rasterized mural. When I see Miles enjoying his space, I know that it is not only Miles-proof but also Miles-approved!

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? It is a bit of a toss-up between more closet space and adding windows to the bathroom and kitchen. Both of these changes would indeed be magical!

Any advice for creating a home you love? As an interior designer, I get this question all the time and I believe that the secret to creating a home you love is to take your time acquiring pieces. You need time to understand how you really live in a space in order to determine what you need and don’t need. This approach cuts down on impulse purchases that are spurred by how you think you live as opposed to how you really live. If you always eat while watching TV on your sofa, then don’t buy a dining table that you will never use. It’s all about aligning the things in your life to the way you live, and not vice versa.

Thanks, Habiba!

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