After years of searching, Lena Dunham has finally found a home where she’s sure she belongs.
The actress, 33, will be the first to admit that her life has been far from grounded in the past few years, from the conclusion of her HBO series Girls in April 2017, to the end of her almost six-year relationship with musician Jack Antonoff in December of the same year.
In an essay penned for Domino magazine’s Fall 2019 cover story, Dunham recalls the challenges she’s had finding the right place to settle down in a life that’s far from settled — and opens up about the “eccentric” second-floor Manhattan rental that finally makes her feel like she’s home.
Dunham and Antonoff, who has famously collaborated with Taylor Swift and Lorde, were ready to find “a place where we could build a future” and “consider children,” Dunham writes.
They moved in together a couple years after they started dating and Dunham decorated their new apartment while Antonoff was on tour. But when he returned, she writes, “he hated it.” She remembers feeling that she had to give up some creative expression to make the Bleachers frontman feel comfortable in the space, driving a wedge between them.
When the relationship ended, Antonoff was the one who stayed in the apartment, while Dunham quickly purchased a new place of her own — a decision she soon regretted.
“I made a massive real-estate mistake, the kind that nightmares are made of,” she writes. “I bought something in a state of panic, feeling like if I didn’t put down roots soon I’d float away.”
She never even ended up moving into the new place, selling it at a loss and bouncing around from friends’ houses to hotel rooms to her father’s office, where she recalls, she briefly slept “between two filing cabinets and used a box of printer paper as my nightstand.”
She finally decided to search for a new place again after her father called her a “grifter,” which drove her to pick the West Village apartment where she currently resides from merely a thumbnail picture. “It was close enough to the art supply store, LifeThyme salad bar, and my therapist,” she says of her decision to move into the street-facing second-floor rental.
“This apartment seemed appropriate for a long interstitial, an extended pause,” she recalls reasoning. Now, she’s changed her mind: She doesn’t think she can ever leave.
She also decorated it with the help of a designer to her exact tastes, down to the color-coded bookcase and pillows custom embroidered with images of her cats (see top).
And she’s in love with the “eccentric” building and its residents, many of whom have become her friends. “When I come home in a gown and Ugg boots and collect my mail, the old man on a stool in the lobby just nods,” she explains.
Though the apartment isn’t big or ostentatious, Dunham says that it’s exactly what she needs at this point in her life. She even likes being on the comparatively modest second floor.
“When the people on 8 tried to floor-shame me, I told them what I love about 2: If you’re an introvert and often homebound, by illness or sadness or both, it feels like the passersby on the street are right there with you,” she says. “They are my built-in friends.”
Though she’s used to bouncing around from home to home, as she’s done numerous times throughout her life, Dunham isn’t looking to move any time soon. “Across from me is a luxurious brownstone, but I’m not sure how it’s decorated,” she writes. “I’ve stopped looking in other people’s windows… I’m finally home.”
Read the full story in the Fall 2019 issue of Domino, on newsstands September 3, and on domino.com.
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