Design + Architecture

Web entrepreneur Cindy Gallop on sexifying your apartment--and why she's selling hers

By Sharon Krum | April 24, 2014 - 8:59AM 

Cindy Gallop describes herself on Twitter as follows: “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.” If that isn’t enough to get your attention, the former advertising executive turned consultant and start-up entrepreneur is the brains behind the real-world sex site, along with, a web platform for people and businesses to turn good intentions into action.

Her home is an art-filled two-bedroom loft in Chelsea, which she reportedly bought for $1.5 million in 2005, and then spent $1 million renovating--famously painting it black and decorating it with eye-popping finds from across the globe. 

Here, she explains why she decided to put the two-bedroom apartment on the market, the key to having great sex at home, and how to turn a shoe fetish into art:

Your place has gotten a lot of buzz, even for New York.

The first thing everyone--even architects--say is, I have never seen anything like this. Then they say they could spend hours here. I think because my apartment is a result of a lifetime haunting flea markets and junk stores, displaying things my parents gave me, picked up in travels--so every object has a story. Photos often make it look art gallery-like, but it’s very warm and enormously comfortable.

Gallop's place sets the stage for sexy encounters. (Photo credit: Matthew Williamson)

You display your approximately 200 pairs of shoes as art.

I am a total shoe fetishist, and have always displayed my shoes wherever I’ve lived. So when I moved into the black apartment, part of the brief was I wanted to display my collection, so I had shoe shelves built under windows that also function also as an [art] installation.

You also love taxidermy! 

I have a thing for it, yes, but I want to point out all my taxidermy is antique. I have a pair of stags heads that are 100 years old. My favorite is a stuffed mongoose and cobra that cost $29 $20 in a street market in Penang. To me it’s stuffed in a very sculptural way, caught in battle.

And the gold Gucci chainsaw and a Chanel AK47?

They were made by the artist Peter Gronquist. I really like the way he creates ironic depictions of designer objects.

Let’s talk about sex. Best way to make a home sex-friendly?

I wanted my apartment to be the ultimate bachelorette pad, and for any guy who walks in to be a sure thing in two minutes, and they are!  The point of making any apartment conducive to a great sex life--you can have sex all over my apartment and I have--is creating an environment that you love being in and expresses you, where you feel comfortable and confident.

Gallop built shelves to turn her shoe collection in an art piece. (Photo credit: The Apartment)

Where do you live?

I live in Chelsea, where I have lived since I moved  from London in 1998. Since I moved  from London in 1998. Incredibly, I found a wonderful apartment, a rental, on my first day of looking. I rented apartments until 2003 when I decided it was time to stop pouring rent into a black hole and buy.

Your apartment, which has been filmed in "Law & Order SVU" and the Notorious B.I.G “Nasty Girl” music video, was formerly raw space at a YMCA.

When I saw it, the space had no ceiling, no floors, no wiring, and my first reaction was, "I can’t do this." Then I slept on it and thought,"How the hell else will I ever afford 3,800 square feet in Manhattan?"

Why black?

I respond to idiosyncratic properties myself. I love loft living and have a big art collection that needs wall space. I told Stefan Boublil, who designed the loft, that when night falls I want to feel like I’m in a bar in Shanghai, one of my favorite cities. He suggested all black. It’s gloss black, so light reflects off the walls and it makes the art pop.

Above, antique taxidermy is another component of Gallop's decor (Photo credit: The Apartment)

Given you love your place so much, why sell it?

Essentially, I bought and built the apartment in my past life as an advertising executive, and now that I’m a start-up entrepreneur, it would be nice not to have a mortgage. This is an idiosyncratic property which requires an idiosyncratic buyer, yet people have responded very well and I have someone interested at the moment.

What will you miss most?

People ask how can I possibly leave, but I’m a great believer in people reinventing themselves. I’m confident I’ll be able to create an enjoyable environment wherever I live, and the black apartment, which has been written and blogged about, will always live on online.

Where are you looking, and how will you decorate?

For me, it is always about the property and not the neighborhood, so I don’t mind where I live. The black apartment was a revelation in the power of great design. When I consult I talk about the importance of redesigning your business and life, and even on a limited budget you can make your home a wonderful place to live. I will renovate next time, and it will be different.

Above, a Chinese wedding bed in Gallop's apartment (Photo credit: The Apartment)

What is your fantasy purchase for your next home?

I would love a fantastic rooftop outside space. I adore Manhattan and New York, and the idea of being able to have a garden in the sky to look out at that wonderful city to me is the ultimate luxury.

What's the one thing you cannot live without?

I give thanks every day to my built-in Miele coffee machine. It is the joy of my life! My morning ritual of reading the papers with a cup of coffee is sheer pleasure.

Your pick for best restaurant in Chelsea?

I love Le Zie. It is Venetian Italian, small and intimate with great atmosphere. They  make a fabulous martini, food to die for, including the best gnocchi in the world.

Favorite home store?

I’m a huge fan of ABC Carpet & Home, and I send out-of-town visitors there because their curation is phenomenal. What I love is how they pioneered ethical retailing before anyone did. The store is all about doing good and making money.

Where do you shop to enhance your sex life?

Two I like are Kiki de Montparnasse and Agent Provocateur. I am the proud owner of three Agent Provocateur rhinestone studded riding whips because friends keep gifting them to me.

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Designer-to-the-stars Zang Toi on why your knick-knacks have to go

"Sex and the City" set decorator Christina Tonkin shares tips on glamming up a small space

Design*Sponge blogger Grace Bonney on where to snag vintage Brooklyn decor

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