IN HER SPACE: Ilana Sarna


Something both Fashionistas and Fashionistos can appreciate is beautiful jewelry. It can be as simple as a thin gold chain or as attention grabbing as wrist full of bracelets. Like clothing, jewelry can reflect different cultures, family heritage or past decades in history. Inspiration for design can come from anywhere, but designer Ilana Sarna draws hers from her travels throughout Europe, Israel, North, Central and South America while maintaining an appreciation for asymmetry. Like many Fashionista/os, she is also inspired by her relatives’ distinct style and jewelry collections. Clearly, they all had great taste. Her jewelry making began at New York University and continued during classes in Manhattan. Her clean and sophisticated jewelry speaks for itself and so does her décor.

CollegeDormista: Describe the decor in your apartment…

Ilana Sarna: Homey and eclectic.

CD: What piece in your apartment has the most history behind it? Where is it from? Tell us the story! 

IS: I have a bunch of trinkets I’ve collected from various flea markets that I imagine are fairly old, but I don’t know the history behind them. One thing I picked up while in Peru is a chuspas, a beautifully woven pouch that’s traditionally used as a sack to hold coca leaves. I was told that it’s considered rude to not offer coca leaves from one’s bag if he or she sees someone else approaching. If the bag is empty, it’s more proper to just walk away without even saying hello. I love the vibrant colors and intricate patterns, plus it’s a special keepsake from my travels. I thought about framing it, but instead it sits on my dining table, dressing up an otherwise simple gray surface.

CD: Is your personal fashion style influenced by your space or vice versa? 

IS: Definitely. I like to be a little bit of everything so as not to limit myself in any way. Some days I prefer dressing more like a flower child, while other days I go for an edgier modern look. Similarly, I’ve decorated my apartment with a mix of bohemian and contemporary pieces.

CD: After a long day at work where is your go-to hang out in your apartment?

IS: I go straight for my couch and cuddle with my dog Alfie for a few minutes. Even if I’ve had the hardest day, I look up at a painting made by my friend and can’t help but smile. It’s a portrait of Diane Keaton’s character Annie Hall and the elated look on her face that my friend captured so perfectly is infectious. It forces me to pause, be grateful and…smile.

CD: What can’t you live without in your space?

IS: My grandmother Ella started sculpting in her 60’s and I’m fortunate to have one of her pieces. It stirs up fond memories of being in my grandparent’s apartment, watching my grandmother sculpt and being silly with my grandfather.  If I had to choose one thing, I think it’d have to be that, although I could also never really live without certain photos of my family and friends.

CD: If you could live in one person’s home whose would it be? 

IS: A few years back, I had the privilege of having dinner with some friends at a home in Belgrano, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Most importantly, the family that hosted us was as gracious as they come. But, wow, their house was magnificent too! It had a real earthy vibe and the colors were very warm. I remember walking in to the mouthwatering smell of food, an elegantly set table, and the playful sounds of their pet parrot and thinking…I could live here.

CD: Any tips you can share with our readers looking to update their small spaces?

IS: A woman once gave me this advice and I think it applies regardless of the size of your home. She said to collect things that you really love. Even if they’re not the same style, in the end, the space will come together because everything is an extension of you and your vision.

CD: Words to live by….

IS: I recently saw Beautiful: the Carol King Musical on Broadway, so I’ve been trying to live by her lyrics, “you’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart.”



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