Name: Diana and Mark
Location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, NY
Size: 860 sqft. 1-bdrm condo
Years lived in: almost 3 years
Some seriously loyal Apartment Therapy fans may remember Diana's first house tour back in 2006. Since then, she got married to a musician/filmmaker and bought an apartment in a beautifully restored seminary faculty housing. So, again, Diana is faced with assimilating a modern leaning aesthetic into the turn of the century detail of a classic Brooklyn brownstone.
Diana is a designer of all shades--graphic, urban, industrial, interior, fashion. The problem with being multi-talented and married to someone who is also multi-talented is that you end up needing a lot of room. If you aren't fortunate enough to have a 5000 square foot live/work space, then you learn to create overlapping, multi-purpose nooks. Such is the fate of Diana and Mark. Both do a lot of work from home. So, home becomes studio becomes home.
Looking around Diana and Mark's apartment, there are so many things to explore and in which to find inspiration. Diana likes it like that. She wants to be able to sit down and start sewing at a moment's notice and she wants her tools and supplies readily available. The challenge then, is how to incorporate a working studio into a comfortable home.
The solution is to move through the process with patience and an understanding that compromises are part of the deal. Streamlining materials used would make it simpler but not if a budget and a consciousness of unnecessary waste are priorities. Diana and Mark work with what they have. As seen in the before pictures, they prefer to pare down their belongings rather than acquire anything new.
Since they moved in, Diana and Mark have used wall paint to create cohesion and add warmth to the apartment. The furniture has been arranged and rearranged ad infinitum. Diana has sewed some great curtains and wall hangings to add texture and to soften the edges. She has also built furniture and functional art. Her handmade elements inevitable turn a generic Brooklyn apartment into a personal 3-d canvas. There is no final chapter. It's still evolving, always improving and always giving Mark and Diana a chance to newly appreciate their home.
Style: Eclectic, cluttered, handmade. A work-in-progress, slowly evolving. I wish we could have more of a cohesive style to our furnishings & décor, but I can't identify any dominant style among our current belongings. We don't want to toss everything and start all over again, so we have to find an emerging theme in what we have.
Inspiration: The idea of a home that is also a workshop, a studio where we can always be puttering & creating and making things. Love the idea of Charles & Ray Eames, working together.
Favorite Element:: Seeing our homemade furniture and lamps. The paint palette of deep red, blue-green & black, yellow, and grey-beige. The cluster of Japanese art and Mao pins around the dining table.
Biggest Challenge: Whittling down two apartments' worth of stuff after we moved in together, and making space for some childhood keepsakes – we couldn't leave them with our parents anymore. A continuing challenge is how to accommodate all our hobbies / work in such a small space – Diana's office, sewing area, small tools, and random craft supplies; lots of vinyl and books, stereos, bicycles; and Mark's photography stuff, piano, guitars, amp, etc. Also the location of the fireplace and the long narrow shape of the living room make it difficult to arrange furniture.
What Friends Say: That it is a comfortable, cozy, and interesting place. And that our cats are more polite to guests than they are to us.
Biggest Embarrassment: Right now some elements seem particularly incongruous, cluttered, or sloppy (e.g., the clashing rugs in living room, the butcher block storage, the boxes on the bedroom bookshelf) but they are part of a long-range plan where they will be incorporated in a way that makes sense, or replaced / upgraded. Eventually we will convert the living room alcove to a second bedroom, add some built-in cabinets, and rearrange our work / hobby spaces.
Proudest DIY: We installed lots of wall shelving everywhere; this was tricky because all our perimeter walls are brick. Also proud of all the things Diana built – desk, media cabinet, cat scratching 'plank', and especially the jewel case chandelier.
Biggest Indulgence: We haven't indulged in anything in the traditional sense of the word.
Best Advice: Live in your space awhile until you understand how you'll use it, then make your changes gradually over time. Sketchup software is a great way to show your partner what you have in mind next and discuss it before you start rearranging! Also, we make a big effort to give our unwanted things a new life (craiglist, ebay, freecycle, salvation army, Grand Army Plaza Sat. textile recycling) and keep them out of the landfill.
Dream Source: Well, we like midcentury modern and scandinavian furnishings from various places, but would prefer to build our own things at Brooklyn's 3rd Ward using sustainable and/or reclaimed wood and metals. We'll be heading over there soon!
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