This Harlem Home Has an IKEA Bed Hack—In the Living Room

This Harlem Home Has an IKEA Bed Hack—In the Living Room

Chinasa Cooper
Aug 2, 2018

Name: Habiba Koroma
Location: Central Harlem, NYC
Size: 630 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting

A ball pit is not necessarily something you expect in an NYC apartment, but in Habiba's home, it's an integral feature of her son's play area. The ingenious, whimsical kid-friendly space that Habiba, an interior designer, has created for Miles also includes a library, a whiteboard, a hanging yarn installation, and a giant rasterized mural of him. Using Montessori principles when conceiving the design, she created an environment for her son to play, learn, grow, and explore, while seamlessly integrating it with the style and sophistication of an adult home... all in just 630 square feet.

"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," she says.

→ We first got a peek at her place in her house call; here's a longer look!

Habiba has always had a passion for design, but it was only a few years ago that she decided to leave behind a career in communications and nonprofit management to turn her passion into a full blown career. "While my path was rewarding, it was not until 2012 when I was faced with my mother's illness that I gained the courage to actually consider following my dream of becoming a designer," she says.

With encouragement from her friends and family along with some well-timed internships, Habiba has turned her dream into a career, providing people with "beautiful, textured and dynamic spaces" and home decor pieces. Her advice to you: "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."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern and soulful, with tons of joy!

Inspiration: I am constantly inspired by amazing designers and creatives alike. A few of my faves include interior designers: Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design, Ishka Designs, Chango & Co, Dani Arps, Forbes + Masters, Tali Roth Design, and of course AphroChic.

Favorite Element: My favorite element 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!

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge has been transitioning to a kid-friendly space 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.

What Friends Say: My friends say that they love my space and have always been my biggest supporters. When I decided to take the plunge and change careers from nonprofit management to interior design, the feedback from my friends and family was overwhelmingly supportive. They were like, "Of course, it makes sense. Go for it!" It really feels like design was what I was always supposed to do and I just had to get the courage to fulfill that dream. Their initial and continued support has given me that courage.

Biggest Embarrassment: My biggest embarrassment is my unruly and wild closets. My issues don't stem from a lack of storage space. I have amassed all kinds of furniture with storage, with the belief and hope that more storage would solve my organization woes. For that reason, I am in awe and in desperate need of the genius of an organizer. I truly value the magic that they do.

Proudest DIY: My proudest DIY is more of a hack of the bookshelf, which serves as a room divider between the living room and Miles' play area. In order to block the view of the Kura bunk bed in Miles' area, I had to affix foamcore panels to the back of the bookcase. I took exact measurements of the three openings in the bookshelf, and selected foamcore from the newly opened Harlem Blick. A Blick associate cut the foamcore to my measurements and I used my go-to product, 3M Command Mounting Strips, to affix the back panels to the bookcase, and voila! A bookcase/room divider which perfectly hides my son's play area!

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgence was a gift from my mom, the Jasper sectional sofa from Room & Board. I searched high and low for the perfect sectional and after a couple visits to the showroom, I knew it was the one.

Best Advice: 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.

Dream Sources: I have so many dream sources which always inspire me and my design. Here are a couple online & IRL sources: Hem, TRNK, Arhaus, CB2, Etsy, Organic Modernism, Room & Board, Blu Dot

Here are a couple of my Harlem Cultural Staples: Studio Museum in Harlem Store, NiLu Harlem's Gift Shop, The Schomburg Shop, Harlem + Bespoke Sugar Hill Market

And last but not least… Geenie Box which is an amazing monthly subscription box featuring lifestyle goodies and accessories from inspiring women.


Valspar — Dusty Rose
Valspar – Dove White
Delft plus one wallpaper – Spoonflower

Hello Coat Rack – Block Design
Fresca White Bench (Discontinued) – CB2
Belly Basket — Olli Ella
Door Knob Beaded Maraca – Studio Museum in Harlem Store
Short Drum Pendant – West Elm
"Bride Catalina" – Black Gotham Experience (Artist)
"Sun Moon" – Habiba Koroma (Artist)

Jasper Sectional – Room & Board
Safavieh Charlene Grey Ottoman — Overstock
Hand-Tufted Country Wool Area Rug (8'x10') – Overstock
Variegated Grey Pouf – Crate & Barrel Kids
Modern Bookcase – Overstock
Tripod Wood Floor Lamp – West Elm
Danish Modern Dresser – Housing Works – Design on a Dime
Abacus – Lily and Mason Boutique (Etsy)
Besta Storage Unit – Ikea
Neon Heart by Oh Joy (Discontinued) – Target
Picture Ledge (Discontinued) – West Elm
23" leisure blush pillow with – CB2
Black Global Oversized Lumbar Throw Pillow — Target
Geo Lumbar Pillow – Target
White Fringe Pillow – Housing Works – Design on a Dime
"The Amazon's New Clothes" – Mfon Essien (Artist)
"The Wire Poster (Season 1)" – Habiba Koroma (Artist) – Printed & Framed by Framebridge
"Smoke" – Exile Prints (Etsy) – Printed & Framed by Framebridge
"Thick Thighs Save Lives" – Rayo & Honey
Sculptural Wall Tassel – Small Batch Fiber Art (Etsy)
Juju Hat – Juju Hatz Decor (Etsy)

Docksta Table – Ikea
Tobias Chair – Ikea
Stockholm Mirror – Ikea

Hearth & Hand Kitchen Towel – Target
Knobs – Amazon
Aldrin White Bowl – CB2

Frame Canopy Bed – CB2
Malm Dressing Table – Ikea
Pax Wardrobe – Ikea
Billy Bookcase – Ikea
Peekaboo Acrylic C Table – CB2
Mantis Wall Sconce – CB2
Barbell Floor Lamp – Article
Riggad Table Lamp – Ikea
Hub Ladder – Domino
Pinstripe Linen Sham – CB2
Dobby Pillow Case – CB2
Reversible Swiss Cross Split Throw – Domino
Gingham Curtains — Amazon

Carlton Waffle Shower Curtain – Target
Turkish Towel – Amazon
Belly Basket – Olli Ella
Toftbo Bath Mat – Ikea
"Are You You" — Shantell Martin (Artist)

Kura Reversible Bed – Ikea
Ikea PS Lomsk Chair – Ikea
Hand-Loomed Orange Area Rug – Wayfair
Digital Dot Bright Pillow – Wayfair
Twill Bolster Pillows — Amazon
Alma Mini Crib Mattress – Bloom
Black Gingham Check Craddle Sheet — Amazon
Wallniture Kid's Room Décor Floating Shelf — Amazon
Officemate Magnet Plus Magnetic Organizer – Amazon
Raster Mural – Rasterbator
Ballpit Balls – Amazon

Thanks Habiba!

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