Tour Rockets of Awesome Founder Rachel Blumenthal's Whimsical-Cool NYC Apartment
Photos: Julia Elizabeth
Rachel Blumenthal is pretty remarkable. The founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome — a kids styling service that delivers customized outfits every season — and a Fashion Mamas NY member, Blumenthal has a knack for infusing refreshing whimsy into everything she does. Take for example, this super fun short film about ROA and you’re immediately transported into her totally rad world. Blumenthal whips up similar magic in her Greenwich Village apartment. In this space, she creates lightning in a bottle by marrying New York City’s classic cosmopolitan vibe with flashes of wit to create a space that reflects contemporary downtown cool. Awesome, right?
Her space, an understated apartment in a 1962-built building, becomes a stage that Blumenthal expertly uses to showcase light, space, and texture. Modern artwork honors her playful personality, and what we love most about this apartment is how Blumenthal creates moments of surprise and delight.
Below, we discuss with Rachel how she remains inspired and how she has translated her creativity into her life at home.
What is your profession? Who do you live with?
I am the founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome. I live with my husband, Neil, my son Griffin (6), and my daughter Gemma (2).
Can you discuss Rockets of Awesome and what inspired the company?
Rockets of Awesome was born out of my own experience. When I became a mom, I was excited to shop for my son, but I quickly found it a chore to find stylish clothes that didn’t cost a fortune. I had to either spend way too much time digging or sacrifice style or value. When I heard the same frustration from friends and the Cricket’s Circle community, I knew there was an opportunity to create a solution. Rockets of Awesome simplifies the process of shopping for kids and delivers stylish, high-quality kids clothes at an incredible value — taking an annoying task off of every parent’s to-do list.
What area and city do you live in and what initially attracted you to the area and your home?
I live in Greenwich Village — we had this dream [neighborhood] we wanted to live in and oddly an apartment came up on Streeteasy and hit my email alert. I saw the open house that day and we immediately knew it was the one.
How do you marry your personality with that of your husband’s in the search for an apartment?
My husband grew up on the 27th floor of a building in Greenwich Village. As such, my husband and mother-in-law are height and view snobs — the floor number is important to them. For me, I grew up on Cape Cod so I always [prefer] location and space. I’d rather have a huge apartment with decent views. When I first learned our apartment was on the 8th floor, I figured that would be a non-starter for my husband. But upon touring the space, we were immediately blown away by the floor-to-ceiling windows and the magnificent views straight downtown. We had my mother-in-law come and see the apartment — she walked in, turned her head right (to a wall of windows with incredible views) and immediately said “buy it!”
How you would describe this neighborhood and what does it reflect about you and your family?
Our neighborhood has an incredible history to it rooted in quintessential New York City culture. Our building was built in 1962 and was considered the most architecturally “important” building downtown. The neighborhood and our building represent understated elegance. We love that the neighborhood is quiet and low key but at the same time absolutely beautiful and easily accessible to anything you could possibly want within a two-block radius. Our block, and the surrounding blocks, are these beautifully tree-lined, quiet residential streets. We have access to incredible restaurants and two playgrounds and parks. Our neighborhood is centrally located for our lives — situated between our kids’ school in Chelsea and our offices in Soho.
As a deeply creative person how do you implement that creativity to your home?
My son loves to build — anything from Legos and Magnatiles to taking recycled bottles, boxes, and toilet paper tubes and building creations with them. Recently, he built a robot with boxes, toilet paper tubes, and empty apple juice containers. I asked him where he got the juice containers and he was resourceful enough to pour the juice in a pitcher so he could use the previously full bottles. [Griffin] also loves to bake. I quickly realized it’s his sneaky way of getting to eat desserts but I love that he’s at least learning math and science while he thinks he’s tricking me. My daughter is your typical ‘girly girl’ toddler who loves to play dress up, “kitchen” and momma — all of which are exactly as you can imagine. Overall though, I like to ask lots of questions to get their minds thinking and let them lead on what they want to make and why and then how they’re going to do it.
Both you and your husband are entrepreneurs. How have you created a sanctuary within your home to decompress from work? How do you maintain balance between your work and home lives?
There’s no such thing as a work/life balance in our lives. I call it a work/life integration. And I don’t think that’s unusual for entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they’re building. We talk about work a decent amount at home — our son knows about investors, board meetings and what being a CEO means. It’s pretty cool to see how our work lives positively impact him. (I have to believe that to validate that I miss bedtime several days a week!)
We are really good about making sure the weekends are entirely dedicated family time. We ski in Vermont every weekend in the winter and we go out to the beach in Long Island every weekend in the summer. We love our weekends because they’re intense family time. During the week, Neil and I have date night on Tuesdays and we love to walk from our offices in Soho to a favorite sushi restaurant and sit at the bar and have omakase. We then endlessly search for the newest, greatest ice cream shop. Davey’s Ice Cream and Snowdays are favorites.
What color palette is dominantly used in your home and how have you used this color in each of the rooms?
Neutrals are the dominant color theme, and we’ve given them depth through textured fabrics and materials — nubby tweeds, velvet, stingray, marble. The playful, unexpected pops of color throughout the apartment are driven by wallpaper, Fornasetti and custom Donald Robertson, and art by Jeff Koons, Jose Parla, Marilyn Minter, Rob Pruitt, and Hunt Slonem.
What kinds of items do you love to surround yourself with? How do these items identify with your personality?
I love surrounding myself with a mix of contemporary and vintage furnishings — items that have unexpected design elements. I hate when you walk into a home and everything is recognizable! I worked with a decorator to ensure there was a balance of textures, colors and materials that drove interest while still being classic. My favorite items in my apartment are: the double-wide couches in the living room — custom designed to allow for my husband and I to lie together while watching TV, the sequin and tweed chaise in my bedroom which was reupholstered in vintage Oscar de la Renta fabric I found at Mood, the Fornasetti wallpaper in my son and daughter’s rooms, the dramatic calacatta gold marble in my kitchen and the giant white leather giraffe in my daughter’s room.
What's your most favorite item in your home?
Our powder room is wallpapered with original illustrations by our friend, the artist, Donald Robertson. We told him our favorite animals and the things that we like to do, like yoga and skiing, and he dreamed up an illustration that includes a blue-footed booby (Neil’s spirit animal), an engagement ring, glasses, a pacifier, and a giraffe doing SoulCycle, which we made into wallpaper in partnership with Partners & Spade and Flavor Paper.
Which room do you and your family spend the most time in and why?
We spend the majority of our time in the kitchen. We have a giant white corian countertop for cooking, quickie breakfasts, buffet style dinner parties and arts and crafts. The corian is amazing because you literally can’t ruin it. Our dining room is off of the kitchen so it makes for a flexible entertainment space.
How have you translated your aesthetic into your child’s room?
For our children’s rooms, we went for a grown-up vibe with subdued hues and sophisticated furnishings. I love kids' rooms that don’t feel juvenile and the children can grow with the space.
Where do you shop for home decor items?
I love to shop for furnishings at ABC Carpet & Home, Dering Hall, Monc XIII, BDDW, all of the vintage shops on 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd in NYC, One Kings Lane (I buy inexpensive items and customize them with unique fabrics and lacquer paint), and 1stDibs.
What is your favorite thing about Griffin’s room?
Griffin has incredible Grey Malin photographs on the wall to complement his Fornasetti wallpaper and Restoration Hardware bed that looks like a leather boat. Gemma’s room has a oversized floor to ceiling bookshelf that’s filled with amazing tchotchkes that I’ve collected for her over time.
What's one of your favorite items in Gemma’s nursery?
Gemma’s white leather oversized giraffe is my absolutely favorite. It’s the perfect combination of playful and elevated. I walked into one of my favorite stores Maison24 after one of my first post-baby doctor’s appointments and immediately validated splurging on such an impractical item.
Nara Walker is a FMLA member, producer, writer and mother to sons Kai and Odin.