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Name: Laurel Bristow, MoonPie the cat, Axolotl Rose.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Size: 1,008 square feet
Type of Home: Condo in a converted Victorian
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
The past few years have been a terrifying time for me, particularly when it came to knowing what information about COVID was important, applicable, or even true. In the beginning, it felt like even the most trusted news outlets were confusing when it came to knowing what to be worried about. Thankfully, one very special infectious disease scientist and educator, Laurel Bristow, was a light in a very dark tunnel of misinformation and hard-to-understand scientific literature.
Beyond just being a safe space to absorb trustworthy facts, Laurel is also wickedly funny and entertaining. Her personality shines through in series like “yeah dude, naw dudes,” where she myth-busts common questions and conspiracy theories, or in the way she comes up with a new nickname for her followers when she presents her IG stories. It’s also evidenced by this amazing bloopers supercut (NSFW: lots of swear words), or in the fact that she has an axolotl she named Rose.
“My home really felt like a ‘meant to be’ situation,” Laurel describes of the Atlanta condo she purchased a year ago. “Because of my work, COVID isn’t a topic I doom scroll. Instead it’s real estate, and one day I was lamenting how I’d never be able to afford a place of my own, when I came across this condo for sale. It was in the neighborhood I already lived in and loved, had so much charm, and was owned by a woman who had intended it to be her bachelorette pad for her and her cat (relatable!). But then she had fallen in love and gotten married and needed more space. I saw it online on a Monday, viewed it that Friday, submitted an offer letter, and by 12 p.m. on Saturday she’d canceled the other viewing and accepted! I wasn’t expecting to buy this quickly, but things lined up so perfectly that I never even questioned it.”
My Style: I joke that my personal style is “Bed, Bath and Beyond Horny,” because I have a lot of cheeky little items around the house and in my wardrobe. But I like a neutral base that I can add a lot of color to. I’m pretty bad about surface clutter, so I try to keep it to a minimum or only allow it in certain areas that don’t need to be functional. Mostly, I like to fill my house with art by friends.
Inspiration: It might seem obvious, but I’m inspired by things I like. I wouldn’t really know how to narrow myself down to one style or describe how to choose a theme, but I’m probably most inspired by my sister’s advice for how to curate a gallery wall: “If you only put up art you actually like, then it automatically goes together.”
Favorite Element: The bay windows at the front are probably my favorite element. They get great sunlight and I (who used to be a horrible black thumb) have been able to grow some very happy plants. Plus MoonPie has her perch to watch over the street. She’s very popular with the neighbors.
Biggest Challenge: The house itself was built in the 1920s, the foundation is pre-Civil War, and then it was converted into multiple units in the ’80s so it’s all a bit… funky. I have original wide-plank wood floors that are beautiful but extremely uneven. The stovetop and oven were built into the counter for some reason, but it means I never lose anything behind the stove. The doors are also original, so sometimes they don’t close and sometimes they don’t open and sometimes the crystal doorknobs fall off and you have to figure out how to get into the closet to get dressed for work.
Proudest DIY: I had to replace my bathroom sink! It was slightly cracked when I moved in, and then a face cream fell out of the medicine cabinet and finished the job. Covering it with duct tape was enough to motivate me to fix it. I found a new adorable sink online, watched some YouTube videos, and pestered a friend with questions (thanks Sean!) and was able to replace it myself in a weekend.
Biggest Indulgence: Biggest indulgence was probably my kitchen paint. I’ve always wanted a pink kitchen, and when I bought the place the cabinets were a horrible stain that did not fit the at all. I asked my realtor (who has incredible style) if she has a paint recommendation and of course, it was Farrow & Ball. The color is “pink ground.” It’s absolutely perfect and at $100 a gallon I’m grateful there wasn’t much wall space to cover.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Technically I swapped the living room and dining room. I like having the sitting area closer to the kitchen and putting the table in the front of the house actually feels more intimate with all the plants around it. Plus when I’m recording videos at my table the bay windows make me feel like I’m on TRL when someone walks by.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My Gorilla Ladder 3 step stepladder. I have 10-12 foot ceilings in some rooms, and shelves/cabinets that are way too high for a reasonable human. It’s great for storage but when I need to access items it’s like I’m climbing half dome.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I HATE having a TV be the focal point of any room, so instead I’ve left one wall intentionally blank, and I bought a little projector from Amazon. Now I can just set up the projector when I want the big screen experience and put it away when I don’t need it
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My biggest advice for any space is “don’t own stuff.” It makes it a lot easier to organize and function. But since I don’t like to follow my own advice there, the next best advice is “own stuff you like so you don’t mind looking at it all the time.” I’m a terrible organizer, so most of my work is in how I can tolerate seeing things all the time. I try to camouflage as much as possible; fancy little house for the litter box, pretend your sewing machines are art so they can stay out all the time, a rack full of jackets is actually cool okay?!?
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said Laurel has 10-12 inch ceilings. It’s of course 10-12 foot ceilings. We’ve updated it to be more accurate.