Name: Jessie and Jon
Location: Brooklyn Heights; New York, New York
Size: 710 square feet
Years lived in: 7 months; rented
Within every couple-cohabited space there is a love story: the how, when, and why a house adapts to contain the spirit of the two people who have worked together to share it and create for themselves a home. College sweethearts Jessie and Jon's story brought them from the Upper West Side and various rental apartments, through New Haven and DC, and finally back here to New York, where this unique Brooklyn Heights nook exemplifies the important things in each of their own lives, as well as the ways in which they have grown over the years together.
In just a few short months since returning to NYC, Jessie and Jon have put together a space that exudes warmth even on a chilly winter day like that of our Tour. The built-ins certainly help: the wide wooden plank floors and ample natural light, the hearth at the center of the main room. There's even a skylight in the bathroom! But it's truly their personal contributions that make the apartment cozy and lively. I love how Jon's minimalist style meshes with Jessie's more colorful and eclectic proclivities to create areas that are straightforward and clean-yet-vibrant, a synergy that they tend well, extending into the energy of their home from their own strong and dynamic bond.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Jessie: I’m not sure that I have a style so much as an instinct. If something makes me feel happy or nostalgic, then I want it. Lots of those things tend to be personal, collected while traveling, made by a friend, handed down from a loved one. I try to make them all fit together the best I can by making everything else pretty simple.
Jon: Sort of a modernist design, with lots of abstract and found art. For design, I like solid-colored furniture with patterned accessories, grouped together by color throughout the house, white walls, and metallic fixtures. For art, I like found art partly because it’s the closest I’ll come to being artistic myself and it’s pretty cheap.
Jessie: My grandmother traveled a lot and although we have very different taste, I remember wandering around her apartment as a kid and picking things up, asking her where they came from. She always had a story to tell. I loved that!
Jon: Honestly, Jessie is. Before we lived together, I never really thought about design at all. I learned about design and developed my own thinking mostly by filtering Jessie’s ideas through my own feelings about practicality.
Jessie: The light! There are three huge windows in the living room/dining room, another two in the bedroom, and a beautiful skylight in the bathroom. Since we have the top floor, it's flooded with light, especially in the late mornings.
Jon: The built-in details. We worked hard on the design, but the fact is, with the wood floors, the fireplace, the windows, and the built-in bookshelves, this would be a very special apartment no matter who lived here.
Jessie: Also light! There are no overhead fixtures (except in the bathroom and kitchen) and not too many outlets for lamps, so lighting the place after dark is tricky. You should see us walking around turning lights on and off to find the right balance.
Jon: The floors. They’re very creaky, they’re unlevel, they sometimes have nails poking up, and I live my life in constant terror that I will spill something and permanently stain them.
What Friends Say:
Jessie: Should I take my shoes off?
Jon: What are you planning on putting in that wall frame?
Jessie: The floors are super unlevel. It contributes to the homey, hand-crafted feel of the place but it also means that our art never looks straight and that kills me!
Jon: The dust. Maybe it’s in my head, but I think this apartment is unusually dusty. Before we can have guests over, we have to spend hours vacuuming and wiping, even if we did the same thing a few days before.
Jessie: I love all the things we’ve turned into art for the walls. Wrapping paper, old Cream of Wheat sacks, postcards, pages from magazines...
Jon: The art on the mantle. Jessie wanted art sitting on the mantle, but I was sure that it would fall off. To solve the problem, we put the big piece of art on top of a rug pad, which prevents it from moving, and tied the other two pieces by a wire to heavy weights (chains in a cup). Now, they wouldn’t fall even if you pushed them off.
Biggest Indulgence: Our bed. When we moved back to New York, we sold our Craigslist double bed and upgraded to a Crate & Barrel queen. It’s the first piece of furniture that we’ve bought – together or individually – that isn’t from Craigslist or Ikea and we LOVE it! But we’re sticking to our roots – the mattress is a hand-me-down.
Jessie: A clean white frame makes anything look like art, whether it’s a post card or a page from a magazine.
Jon: Natural light matters more than you think. Any apartment with natural light can look beautiful.
Jessie: ABC Carpet and Home, West Elm, Brooklyn Flea, all the antique stores on Atlantic Avenue.
Jon: Target, Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ikea.
Resources of Note:
Art: propaganda print from Vietnam, our friends Laurie and Sam, and Crescent City Books, New Orleans
Shoe rack: Ikea
Couch and chair: Crate and Barrel via Craigslist
Coffee table: vintage via Craigslist
Wooden side table: found
Throw pillows: Macy’s and Target
Lamps: Bed Bath & Beyond and Ikea
Art: hand-me-downs, found, our friend Laurie, Susan Due Pearcy, Tina Thieme Brown, and David Esslemont
Red chairs: hand-me-downs
Dining Table: Craigslist
Cubes: Ikea, inherited from previous tenants of our last apartment
Rug: ABC Carpet and Home Outlet
Striped baskets: Container Store
Stacking Boxes: inherited from previous tenants of our last apartment
Wicker chair: Ikea
Art: Palau de la Musica Catalana gift shop, our friend Laurie, the Brooklyn Flea, Crescent City Books, found, gifts, hand-me-downs
Art: torn pages from EdibleDC magazine
Bed: Crate and Barrel
Shag rug: hand-me-down
Dressers and bedside table: Ikea via Craigslist
Little wooden table: found
Lamps: Ikea and our college bookstore
Duvet cover: West Elm
Art: on loan from Jon’s stepfather, souvenirs from Israel and Alaska, gifts, our friends Anne and Laurie, ripped out of magazines, postcards
Shower curtain: Ikea
Maps: gifts, framed wrapping paper
Thanks, Jessie and Jon!
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(Image credits: Alexis Buryk)