The Boys of Bushwick

House Tour

Name: Michael Stout, Joshua Lekwa & Walter Replogle
Location: Bushwick — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 8½ — rented

What do you get when you put a designer, a comedian and an architect in an industrial loft with a notorious reputation? Inspired living!

When Designer/Photographer Michael Stout first moved to Brooklyn in 2002, he was immediately attracted to the idea of loft living and quickly snatched up a lease at 248 McKibbin, an old factory space which had been recently converted into a beehive of residential lofts only a few years earlier. Over the years, the McKibbin lofts gained considerable attention as a haven for artists and party-people, with the The New York Times even describing the scene as "Greenwich Village 60 years ago, or SoHo 30 years ago, or the East Village in the 1990s." Being no stranger to the massive (and often infamous) floor-wide open house style blowouts that occurred here over the past decade, I was thrilled when Michael, Walter and Josh agreed to share their bright and artful 1,100 square foot corner loft on the 4th floor.

Whether pulling down the photo screen for one of Michael's shoots or clearing the furniture to make room for the wild and unpredictable rehearsals for Walter's comedy group, Murderfist, the space serves a purpose for equal parts living, work and play. Thanks to the rough-around-the-edges appeal and amazing light that pours in from the wrap around windows, they sometimes even rent out their living room as a studio space, having set the stage for photo shoots for musical acts like The Rapture and Cat Power and editorial spreads for Thom Browne.

A tour through the apartment is a true testament to Michael's handy-work, as he constructed most of the elements in the apartment himself from found materials. From the hanging retractable task lamps to the storage unit made from giant, salvaged windows panes, the apartment is filled with do-it-yourself ingenuity, whimsically wrapped up in an aesthetic they cheekily describe as "a touch of class, a touch of trash."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A Touch of Class, A Touch of Trash. Fun and not too serious. Rough around the diamond's edges.

Inspiration: Making hybrid uses out of objects. For example, I've built a bookshelf within a clothing rack and a staircase out of a bookshelf. Also, using objects not intended for the original use - I added some shelving to a construction platform that is used as a storage unit. I also fashioned a headboard for my bed out of grooved, interlocking gym mats. An adjustable window guard found on the street hangs in the kitchen as a pot rack.

Favorite Element: Uninterrupted walls of windows wrapping around two sides of the space. For seven years, we lived with old factory issued, uninsulated, single paned windows with cracks and bullet holes that allowed the cold, rain, and snow inside. Last year the landlords retrofitted the entire building with new, insulated, double paned windows and did a pretty good job of replicating the geometry of the old windows, though we lost all the character.

Biggest Challenge: Transporting and welding the old windowpanes during the heat wave of last summer. Then realizing that the door from the freight elevator to the hallway is lower than door to our apartment, then having the break the corner welds off to squeeze it through the door, and re-bolt it at the corner joints once inside.

What Friends Say: Our front door faces the corner of the loft where the two walls of windows meet, and beyond that, a classic Brooklyn view of water towers, industrial buildings, and church steeples. It's the first thing people see when entering the space and elicits quite a reaction upon a first visit.

Biggest Embarrassment: Not sure if there have been any big embarrassments, but I list the space with several location and production companies so we get a lot of calls about print or film work and get maybe 2-3 jobs out of about every 10 inquiries so losing those jobs to other spaces is quite a disappointment. In the end though, it's really just about the right type of space for that type of project.

Proudest DIY: Last year, when the old windows were replaced, I salvaged some sections, took out the old panes, cleaned them, and took a welding class up the street at 3rd Ward. I welded them back in into an L-shaped rolling screen on castors to hide our storage area. It's nice to have a reminder of the old elements inside that made me first fall in love with the space, while also serving a utilitarian purpose.

Biggest Indulgence: I spent about $1000 on the rolling window screen: the welding class and transportation of the materials (not to mention the amount of labor that was involved). But I don't tend to splurge as I consider myself pretty thrifty and frugal. I work with what I can find. I posted a Google Alert for 'craigslist' and 'antique settee' and received daily updates. Everything was either too pricey or not my style. After three months, I got an alert for a beautiful, velvet-tufted piece up in White Plains for $50 (a steal!) and Zip-cared it up there immediately.

Best Advice: Look at something and ask, "What else could this be?"

Dream Sources: ABC Carpet & Home, the beginning/end of the month on the UES & UWS, Craigslist, Vintage/thrift/junk stores in flyover states.

Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

    • Sofa: Craigslist
    • Owl Lamp: Walter's Grandmother
    • Curtains: Pottery Barn
    • Mirrors: Thrift Stores
    • Coffee Table: IKEA
    • "This Area Patrolled" Sign: Street find
    • Reaview Mirror Photo: Michael Stout
    • Bookshelf/Coatrack: Made from salvaged materials

KITCHEN

    • Picture Frame: Hell's Kitchen Flea Market
    • Quaaludes Jar: Jonathan Adler
    • Shelves: West Elm
    • Inflatable Taxidermy: Urban Outfitters
    • Island: IKEA (Hacked)
    • Storage System: Scaffolding from York Scaffold combined with welded, salvaged window frames
    • Industrial Fan: Found in building
    • Pot Rack: Fashioned out of window bars with disco balls
    • Indian Painting by Jason Woodside
    • Door Mural by Shane Ingersoll

BEDROOM

    • Mural: Harold Ancart
    • Tool chest: Sears
    • Curtain: Leftover from a Ralph Lauren window display job
    • Desk: Designed & built by Josh Lekwa
    • Duvet: Fabric from Urban Outfitters
    • Chair:  Saarinen

Thanks, Michael, Josh & Walter!

Images: Mat Sanders

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