It’s not hard to imagine certain pieces in Katie Nehra’s fanciful prewar apartment—say, her hot pink Louis XV–style armchair or her leather pouf from John Derian—in the Barbie Dream House. Then again, it’s doubtful Barbie would leave a pair of gold Kiki de Montparnasse handcuffs on her coffee table. “I like things that are a little tongue-in-cheek,” says Nehra, pointing out side tables embossed with the words poison and danger, custom made by Bourgeois Bohème. But though the actress-screenwriter-designer favors pieces that are provocative, she tempers them with ladylike polish. An English sofa upholstered with a sedate Calvin Klein velvet feels like a luxe indulgence, and Lucite bookshelves lend an air of sophistication to everything displayed on them—be it her collection of crucifixes or her limited-edition Karl Lagerfeld teddy bear. “There are so many things in life to be serious about,” Nehra says. “I don’t think you need to feel that way about everything in your house.”
Nehra’s coupled-up girlfriends are often envious of her decorating freedom—when she painted her dining room hot pink and put up flamingo sconces, no one raised a ruckus. Not to mention her ability to keep everything in order—which is critical since she often works from home. Next, she’ll appear as “the female version of Eminem” in a self-penned comedy she describes as “Reno 911! meets The Wire” and will take a movie she cowrote (directed by actor Chris Messina of The Mindy Project) to film festivals. “I’m very OCD about my home,” says Nehra. “Someone just said to me, ‘Men, they come with so much stuff!’ Every married woman who visits my apartment tells me it makes her want to be single.”
The fun-loving streak so evident in Nehra’s home also pops up in her personal style. “Never wear something that doesn’t feel like you,” she says. Her leather jackets (she designs under the Simone Collection moniker) are essentials, and the material is a regular in her repertoire. She’ll pair a black leather skirt with Air Jordans by day, then change it up with Tom Ford zebra heels for night. If a meeting with a Hollywood agent demands an I-mean-business look, she’ll opt for flat black Vic Matié snakeskin boots, a silk dress from Reformation and a Simone Collection jacket. Considering her envelope-pushing tastes, it fits when she mentions that the visionary designer Azzedine Alaïa and Rihanna are two of her biggest style inspirations. “I don’t think she’s trying to be outrageous,” she says of the pop star. “That’s just who she is and it feels genuine.” We’d say the same of Nehra.