Interior designer Kayla Billings Gardner and her husband, financial technology entrepreneur Clayton Gardner, are opposites in every way. She has a creative bent, he’s analytical. She’s a wild maximalist, he leans modern. She’s into color, he’s not. And yet, in the seven years they’ve shared a home together, they’ve somehow figured out a balance. “In our past homes, we shared every space—in one case, with two other roommates. This was our first opportunity to have designated spaces true to our individual tastes,” says Kayla of the two-and-a-half-bedroom West Village apartment she shares with Clayton and their dog Ruby.
While it is a rental, it’s the couple’s first “grown-up” apartment and their first real opportunity to start investing in pieces they love. “Because we knew we wouldn’t be here forever, there was a big push and pull on where to invest time and money versus where to save. We were conscious of making investments that could transfer to our next home,” says Kayla, who served as marketing director at AD before making her foray into the design world, first as an assistant at a small New York City–based interior design practice, and subsequently as founder and principal of her own boutique firm, Saturday Studio NYC. So followed an exercise in tactful restraint: The couple kept any furniture from their last (much smaller) apartment that still worked in this space, including the bar cart, side tables, dining table, and bench. (Fun fact: The latter two have traveled with Clayton from apartment to apartment for over a decade.)