Coaxing the cavernous boiler room of a former rubber mill to feel like home is no small task, but sculptor and designer Ben Blanc and his wife, Aja, an educator and herbalist, manage it with ease. They've filled the space with large-scale artwork, oversize furniture, and homey details that refuse to be dwarfed by the soaring industrial ceiling.
The loft is part of the Monohasset Mill Project, composed of converted live/work spaces adjacent to The Steel Yard, a steel and iron complex that now houses a variety of industrial arts facilities. Ben & Aja's space was renovated and used as a gallery before they rented it as a residential loft, so the couple's collection of grand sculptures and wall art, some created by Ben himself, feel right at home. A highlight of the large room is the remaining back-end of the old boiler, itself an impressive sculptural object. Despite the industrial setting, large windows overlooking their boxed garden of herbs and greens bring a pleasantly surprising amount of the outdoors in.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Wabi sabi — eclectic, industrial, nostalgic
Inspiration: Growing up, my Dutch grandparents would use a word to describe the coziness and good feelings that can come from the home: gezellig. The word translates literally to "cozy" but I understood it as more than that. For both Ben and I, that word has come to describe the vibes we strive for in our home; regardless of what it looks like, we want it to feel good to be in.
Favorite Element: The wide-open space, tall ceilings and sense of freedom paired with more intimate spaces.
Biggest Challenge: Two very different design personalities coming together to cohabitate peacefully.
Biggest Embarrassment: Dust bunnies....They're prolific little critters!
Proudest DIY: We used to live in an old carriage house in CT with lots of green space to roam and plant a garden. It was a crazy change moving back to the city, but we love our makeshift herb planter. Its not huge, but enough to grow lots of delicious herbs throughout the spring/summer/fall and bring just a bit of the farm life back into our city living.
Biggest Indulgence: Having not one, but two tables by very talented wood worker David Ellison.
Best Advice: Curate your life.
Thanks, Ben & Aja!
Images: Sarah Rainwater
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