Name: Nick Cope and Rachel Mosler
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 2,200 sq/ft
Years lived in: 1.5 years, rented
This is green city living at its best: start with an airy apartment in a beautifully restored 19th century warehouse, and add a creative couple inspired by found objects. You get a clean, uncluttered space with rich historic details and unique handmade objects at every turn.
Once a run-down coffee and cotton warehouse on a seedy industrial stretch, the brick Fairway building has become a culinary and artistic anchor of Brooklyn’s Red Hook waterfront since its 2007 renovation. The apartments and artist lofts, which share the building with a gourmet food market, ring a striking center atrium, with a latticework of metal beams open to the sky.
Inside the apartment, an original timber structure and soaring celings create a blank canvas for Rachel Mosler, an artist, and Nick Cope, founder of Green Painting. Every element of their home has a story, from the shipping-pallet bed, to Rachel’s hand-bound books and mobile of vintage stereoscopic photos that spins slowly over the dining room table.
Each story starts with “I found this piece,” and ends with the creation of something altogether different. Empty window frames become an ivy-wound headboard; an industrial baker’s rack holds an herb garden. Metal piping supports a desk, and rusty old fan, wrapped with rattan, becomes a work of art. With Nick and Rachel’s artistic eye, sustainable design is a kind of urban alchemy, collecting discarded bits of a city and tranforming them into something beautiful.
My/Our style: Shortly after we met, we were each surprised to find such similar taste in decor when we visited our respective apartments. It was almost as if we could have switched spaces and never missed a beat. We are both inspired by white spaces with minimal clean lines, lots of light, and little clutter, however, we both like crude furniture and decorative found objects. A salvaged farm-style table with distressed paint and a too short leg (propped by books), an old rusty fan that Rachel wrapped in rattan, and an old shaker chair that I repaired and painted bright blue are all examples of this fact.
Inspiration: Adaptive re-use!
Favorite Element: Likely the pair of antique windows (sans glass panes) that we mounted above the bed is our favorite element. It was Rachel's idea to then coax our ivy plants up the wall to begin crawling through the frames. Hopefully someday soon they will reach the sprinkler pipes above.
Biggest Challenge: It was difficult to decide what we wanted to do with our main space. It’s basically a big square, and we took a lot of time testing out zones of the room in different roles.
What Friends Say: My friend Eliot said, “This is the second nicest apartment I've seen in New York.”
Biggest Embarrassment: I haven't fully repaired our salvaged “blue chair” so we have to hurriedly warn our visitors to choose a different one. It's been known to collapse.
Proudest DIY: Definitely our pallet bed. We salvaged pallets from the neighborhood and created a lovely platform bed with a simple design and little more than $3 in hardware.
Biggest Indulgence: Probably my set of All-Clad Copper-Core Cookware. This is one area where I go for the top-of-the-line. With proper maintenance it lasts a lifetime and cooks so evenly!
Best Advice: Utilize Craigslist, antique stores, thrift stores, and found objects to save money and resources. Also, these objects tend to have terrific character and can be nicely integrated into one's space. Get creative with it! Also, make space for a little herb garden.
Dream Source: We would love to support our friends, the artists and skilled craftsman who create custom pieces for homes by hand. One of our dear friends is a muralist who we would love one day to ask to paint the starry sky on our bedroom ceiling.
Overall: Apartment Therapy and ffffound.com
Appliances: All GE energy star appliances, which wisely save 30% in electricity.
Furniture: No Knoll here. Each of the 3 chairs at our dining table is unique and was found by the curb and revived. The same is so with our counter stools. My antique commode chair was a slight splurge. Sofa from West Elm. Our neighbor provided us with the Dining Table, that's IKEA ;)
Accessories: We have a lovely collection of vintage stereoscopic imagery, part of which hangs in a mobile above our dining table.
Lighting: Missing bulbs.
Rugs and Carpets: We enjoy the expansive floor space (and have no neighbors below - just the supermarket) and therefore only have one small rug in the bedroom, which is an Ethiopian Lewa Rug that we borrowed from my parents.
Beds: Pallet Bed…refer to "Our Proudest DIY"
Artwork: The artwork in the apartment is all by Rachel Mosler herself. Rachel graduated with a degree in Sculpture ('03) from RISD, and masters in Art Therapy from SVA ('08). She is currently making/showing work. She is also now a practicing Art Therapist at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Paint: This is my area of expertise. We used amazing Linseed Oil trim paint by Allbäck, which is the most revolutionary paint product at market yet it utilizes a 350-year-old design. My company Green Painting has recently been approved to distribute this amazing product. I have currently applied Benjamin Moore & Co.'s zeroVOC Natura paint on our walls (Decorator's White), though next time I hope to move away from acrylic and work with clay-based paint by Farrow & Ball.
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(Images: Liz Vidyarthi. Originally published 2010-07-15)