Real Estate

Why an NPR Quiz Show Panelist Loves Her ‘Messy Apartment’

Faith Salie — a panelist on the NPR quiz present “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!,” a contributor to “CBS News Sunday Morning,” a podcast host (her newest, “Broadway Revival,” debuted Nov. 18), an actor, an writer, a baker (her Coca-Cola cake, constructed from her mom’s recipe, is severe business), a Rhodes scholar (life isn’t truthful) and a charmer — lives together with her two kids and one husband, as she places it, in a postwar high-rise close to Lincoln Center.

“We love this area so much that it’s hard to look elsewhere for something more spacious or more affordable,” mentioned Ms. Salie, 50, whose solo present, “Approval Junkie,” primarily based on her 2016 essay assortment of the identical identify, runs by means of Dec. 12 on the Minetta Lane Theatre. (It may even be recorded as an Audible Original.) “I’m evangelical about the Upper West Side.”

She might in all probability study to warble hosannas about different elements of city — sure, Ms. Salie can sing, too — however since shifting to Manhattan from Los Angeles in 2006 to be the host of the short-lived news-and-entertainment radio present “Fair Game,” she has lived solely in a square-mile-and-a-half space bordered by Central Park West and Broadway.


Occupation: journalist, performer, writer

Manhattan matriculation: “A friend told me, ‘You are so lucky to live in this apartment, because when you live in New York it’s like you’re at university, and the whole city is your campus and your home is your dorm.’ I try to remember that.”


“When I came here, I was separated from my wasband, which is what I call my first husband,” Ms. Salie mentioned. “And over a period of four years, I sublet three furnished apartments. That was my journey until I met my second husband,” she mentioned, referring to John Semel, an training technology govt, whom she married in 2011.

“I felt some sort of comfort in the transience of the places I was living,” Ms. Salie continued. “I was actually relieved, because I didn’t feel settled personally. I had so many questions: When is my divorce going to come through? Am I going to marry again? Will I ever become a mother? How will I become a mother on my own?”

There was one question she didn’t should answer, she mentioned: “What kind of furniture do you want? The furniture I want is whatever is here.”

Ms. Salie was pregnant at her marriage ceremony, one thing she loves to say as a result of, she mentioned, it makes her sound trendy. Thus, there was some urgency to discovering a rental in her most popular neighborhood and settling in earlier than child Augustus, now 9, was born. (Daughter Minerva adopted two years later.)

“John had always lived on the Upper East Side,” Ms. Salie mentioned. “And he always tells me, ‘You were adamant about staying on the Upper West Side, and I was adamant about staying married to you.’”

Besides being an excellent man, Mr. Semel is sweet with spreadsheets. He laid out all the chances and located the fitting place: a two-bedroom with good mild and a terrace. Also, luckily, he got here to the union with some “grown-up man” furnishings “that he was very proud of,” Ms. Salie mentioned.

The haul included a Minotti couch, a Ligne Roset glass-fronted curio cupboard that was a flooring mannequin, a Ligne Roset eating desk and chairs, and a pair of Charles Pollock chairs, together with an Eileen Gray marble-topped espresso desk that had been in Mr. Semel’s childhood residence.

“John’s furniture was just fine,” Ms. Salie mentioned. “It’s not my taste, but I don’t know that I have such fully formed taste that I can articulate what my taste actually is. When you’re renting and when you have kids, there are many times when you say, ‘It’s fine.’”

To ensure, many issues listed below are an excellent deal greater than positive to Ms. Salie. They are typically items from her travels with Mr. Semel: two rugs and a whimsical portray from the Medina in Fez; a Berber door, additionally from Morocco, that sits atop the credenza within the entryway; cushions from Paris, London, Venice and Hong Kong that line the couch; and a big fabric serviette from a restaurant in Florence, Italy, that hangs over Minerva’s mattress.

“The chef heard that we were on our honeymoon,” Ms. Salie recalled, “and he came out from the kitchen with a box of markers and made the most whimsical drawing on the napkin, put his hand in John’s espresso and threw some on the picture, then brought out some limoncello and sprinkled that on the picture.”

But Ms. Salie appears to derive the best pleasure from the furnishings and objects that talk to the discreet charms of household life: the purple recliner within the bed room that she sat in to nurse her kids; the paintings taped or pushpinned to a wall within the eating nook; the battery of Legos; the image books arrayed on a library-style cart in the lounge; the images and magnetic alphabet letters affixed to the fridge; Augustus’s stuffed animals gathered on a bit of his mattress that Minerva, 7, calls “the dairy-o” (maybe a reference to “The Farmer in the Dell,” however nobody within the household is for certain).

The blessed patch of recent air in any other case often known as the terrace is the place Mr. Semel smokes one of many greater than 300 pipes in his assortment, the place he and Ms. Salie snap the youngsters’s first-day-of-the-school-year images and the place they gathered each night throughout the top of the pandemic to cheer for frontline staff.

“It’s a very emotional place,” Ms. Salie mentioned.

When she and Mr. Semel moved into the residence, the space appeared ample. Ten years on, they’re bursting on the seams. It helps some that Ms. Salie has rented a one-bedroom unit a flooring under to make use of as an office and as a studio the place she data her podcasts.

When she is feeling most pissed off — maybe she has simply stepped on an errant Lego piece or is futilely making an attempt to make room on a wall for her kids’s newest masterpieces — she shortly regroups.

“I think, ‘You know what? If I were a set designer for a play and I wanted to show a house that was fun and not too fancy and a place of joy with parents who treasured their children, what would it look like?’” Ms. Salie mentioned. “And I think it would probably look just like our messy apartment.”

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