hen Alexa Hampton signed the lease on her first apartment in New York City, she was a single twenty-something working for her famous designer father, Mark Hampton. Like most people, she assumed she’d call various places home before settling down. But time passed. She fell in love. Got married. Took over her father’s business. Had three children. And all the while, she kept her same street address, first swapping rental units with her neighbors, then buying one—until finally amassing five bedrooms’ worth of gorgeously appointed comfort that she plans to never, ever leave.
1995: APARTMENT 12C
I grew up in Manhattan. After graduating from Brown University and studying at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts in New York and Florence, Italy, I moved back to the city to work for my father, Mark Hampton. My best friend, Gaby, and I wanted to get our own place. We’d first met on Park Avenue when we were eight: She was in a ballerina tutu and toe shoes, I was in a sequin tube top and roller skates; we looked at each other and instantly knew we’d be friends. Now in our twenties, we signed the lease on a beautiful two-bedroom in a prewar doorman building on the Upper East Side. I mixed all the paint colors myself. The blue in the living room required a great quantity of black. The bedroom was nearly a catastrophe: I stayed up all night to paint it yellow, but as sun the came up, I realized it was the color of insanity. Gaby put up with a lot of shenanigans on my behalf. She remains my best friend to this day.
1996: APARTMENT 7G
A year later, Gaby got married and moved out. Meanwhile, friends had introduced me to my now-husband Pavlos. We kissed one day, and he moved in the next. We very much wanted to live in sin, but we didn’t need two bedrooms, so we swapped for a one-bedroom with another couple in the building. Our new place was at the back, less than 600 square feet, and didn’t have the same high ceilings, but we couldn’t have been happier. We just tightened up and got rid of things, although our George Smith sofa came with us. Since my favorite room growing up was chocolate brown, I recreated a grayer version of it in our new living room using Benjamin Moore’s Middlebury Brown. The zebra rug was my “I love you, Albert Hadley” moment. And I sold my Volkswagen Jetta to have De Angelis make that club chair for me!
2000: APARTMENT 10E
When 1999 rolled around, the building started to go co-op. Because we’d already been renting there, Pavlos and I were able to buy a small two-bedroom at the front. In 2000, after our wedding in Pavlos’s native Greece, we moved into our new place. We didn’t know how long we’d be staying, so we played it safe with color. There were tons of references to things my father had done that I’d loved. I even took some of his stuff, like a pair of antique bergères from his firm’s storage space that nobody was using, which I covered in canvas to make them a little less formal—I was only 29, after all.
2008: APARTMENTS 10E + 10D
When I got pregnant with our daughter, we realized we needed more space. I really wanted to buy the two-bedroom next door, but the owners weren’t interested in selling. Instead, when the couple in a one-bedroom over on the far side of the building moved out, we bought it and combined it with ours.
PRESENT: APARTMENTS 10E + 10D + 10C
Another apartment opened up, and we pounced. A lot of doing and undoing ensued. What had been the living room became the family room. A bedroom became the dining room. We gained a new living room. Suddenly we had 3,000 square feet, and we realized we could stay here forever. This is when we really embraced color, painting rooms Bordeaux red, green, seafoam. To balance it out, the hallways are a taupe brown, and the entry is covered in a silver wallpaper. I’m really casual—I have a filthy mouth, and I’m constantly making jokes—but our apartment is kind of formal and feels really grown-up, which I love. Even though I’m already very emphatically an adult, I always think, “We finally have all the things that real grown-ups have!”