Name: Amandine Isnard & Mihalis Gripiotis and Aristos
Location: Williamsburg; Brooklyn, NY
Size: 2,800 square feet
Years lived in: 7 years; Rented
Amandine is the Head of Product Development for Eve Lom, a European niche luxury beauty brand, and Mihalis is a journalist and the founder of the art-house film production company IFFI Productions. Their Brooklyn house was decorated to look like a film set, and as a result, has been used as a studio for various film projects. The space was completely raw and naked when they first rented it. With a think-outside-the-box attitude, the warehouse has been dramatically remodeled into a sophisticated, open-plan living space.
"What's inside this place has either been found, given, or built. I don't think you should spend money to buy furniture in New York," announces Mihalis while drinking a glass of Italian wine. "People don't look at things on the street anymore because there are so many flea markets," he continues.
The space is divided into a living area and an huge playground or working area, depending on the mood. The studio office side has a an industrial chic look to it, with pieces of metal from Jeff Koons' architect's apartment proudly reincarnated as shelves. What about the fireplace? "I got it on eBay. I went to Philadelphia to pick it up and I ended up at this couple's place. They were hoarders and collectors. Their house was full of junk... It was like a secret flea market," says Mihalis with excitement. "I got it for $300; I saw it later at a store for $2000." The mid-century fireplace, the IKEA kitchen cabinets, and two vintage stools were all purchased from the Philadelphia couple.
Jumping into the animated living area, the glowing orange Plexiglas bathroom door looks like the entrance of a fancy night club restroom. Mihalis built the sliding door from scratch and got the men/women symbol sticker from a deserted building.
Mihalis is the handyman of the house. He built the bed, the kitchen, the floating shelves in the studio, the bathroom, and everything else you can think of. "How did you learn all this?" I ask him. "My dad is very handy. When something is broken, he's fixing it. I grew up seeing my father fixing things around the house. I like to do things with my hands. I like to build." The European couple wanted to create different vibes for different parts of the place. Depending where I let my eyes wander, I could be anywhere from a suspended garden in the Mediterranean to somewhere in Wonderland.
More than a home, it is an odyssey. Behind every object there is a tale, a fable, and a story with a happy ending. Among all the travel souvenirs there also are adopted chairs, a collection of lost and found objects, street finds, DIY projects, salvaged furniture, and friends' forgotten belongings. A rug from Tulum floats in the middle of the room like a flying carpet ready to go to some far-flung destination at any moment, while a Cartier-Bresson photograph overlooks an intriguing Beatles pillow. When I finally ask about the presence of the giant instrument—secretly wondering if a private concert might happen later on—Mihalis casually responds, "Oh! A friend did not have enough space so he told me I could keep it."
For those who think open spaces might feel empty or cold—think again. Amandine and Mihalis' shelter is surprisingly warm and convivial. There is a feeling of lightness and well-being flowing around the space. There is a reference to a certain Southern European lifestyle as well. Maybe it's the festival of colors, the playful way beloved objects are displayed, or the light coming from above. Either way, Mihalis' "I don't like all white" approach is working magic. "Without the plants, it will look like a box," shares Amandine. "The plants create corners, environment; it helps a lot to shape the place," finishes Mihalis.
It's funny how everything makes more sense after a glass of wine (and Amandine's escalopes à la crème). I suddenly understand how the Franco-Greek pair created a refuge full of options and possibilities for nomads-in-transit and part-time daydreamers. As I'm leaving my hosts, I think, yes, we can have it all: the tree house, the office studio, and the joie de vivre.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Quirky Industrial Exoticism.
Inspiration: Industrialism & The Amazon Rainforest.
Favorite Element: Trees/fireplace.
Biggest Challenge: Heat/garage Door.
What Friends Say: Before renovations: “Will you live in a coffin?”
After renovations: “What The Hell?”
Biggest Embarrassment: Part of the ceiling falling on my head while trying to install lights.
Proudest DIY: Studio floating shelves design, bathroom door, and kitchen.
Biggest Indulgence: Huge film projections on studio area wall.
Best Advice: High ceilings help the brain ventilate.
Dream Sources: Bigreuse.
PAINTS & COLORS
- Living room (above): Benjamin Moore White N21501 Flat Finish—"Paint over the same white five years later it stills look the same, never go wrong with that white."
- Living room floor: California Paints Diamond Enamel Hard Finish Urethane Enamel Coastguard Gray 22136
- Kitchen floor: California Paints Diamond Enamel Hard Finish Urethane Enamel Orange 70805
- Studio floor: California Paints Diamond Enamel Hard Finish Urethane Enamel Battleship Gray 22131
- Striped rug: found in Tulum
- Fiber rug: A friend moving to Singapore gave it to us.
- Couch: Amandine's aunt
- Coffee table: antique under-bed storage unit
- Floating shelves: built by Mihalis
- Fan: found in a deserted warehouse
- Fireplace: eBay
- Rake: found in a deserted warehouse
- Stools: street finds
- Kitchen island: DIY project by Mihalis
- Kitchen cabinets: IKEA, purchased secondhand
- Lights: a Brooklyn hospital
- Sliding door: built by Mihalis
- Windows: built by Mihalis
- Rug: travel find
- Sink: warehouse find
- Bed: built by Mihalis
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