Rachel's Lucky Find Bed-Stuy Apartment

Rachel's Lucky Find Bed-Stuy Apartment

Nora Taylor
Feb 23, 2016

Name: Rachel
Location: Bed-Stuy — Brooklyn, New York

In the fall of 2014, my husband Eric and I started planning a relocation from Houston to Brooklyn so that I could take a job as a Senior Lifestyle Editor at BuzzFeed. We were going to be finding a place to live pretty much long-distance, but we looked at apartments in the city on a trip there in October of that year. We found a place in Harlem I really liked — it was a high-rise modern, spacious, had nice views. But Eric wasn't sold on it and after we got back, he said he wanted to look in Brooklyn too. A couple days later, he sent me about 10 listings from around Brooklyn, including this Bed-Stuy brownstone apartment.

I didn't immediately connect with it — all the dark wood really isn't my style — but he encouraged me to take another look. We reached out to the realtor, who understood we were looking long-distance and gave us a FaceTime tour of the place. That sold me, but we asked some friends who lived relatively close to walk around the neighborhood and make sure it seemed good. Once they gave us the thumbs up, we went for it. We didn't see it in person for the first time until the day we moved in. It ended up being so much bigger and lovelier than I had expected. The listing had said it had a "half" bedroom, which I expected to be tiny, but it ended up being big enough to use as a dining room. The kitchen was also a lot bigger than I expected. And the high ceilings, pocket doors, fireplace, and beautiful moulding — which our landlord had just painstakingly restored with the help of his carpenter father — are all really, really lovely. I still can't believe we got such a great place (for $600/month less than the Harlem apartment)!

Moving from a four-bedroom, three bedroom house with an office and a two-car garage to a one bedroom small apartment is very, very strange. We planned to rent out the house in Houston, and because of the high cost of moving things cross-country and the size of a lot of our furniture, it just made more sense to buy a lot of things new when we got there. After we arrived in late November via plane with our two dogs, we got the keys, dropped our bags off, hopped in a cab, and sprinted through IKEA right before the store closed so we'd have a mattress for that first night. (Luckily, the bed frame I'd ordered off of Amazon had showed up the day before.) We bought the couch a couple days later, on Black Friday. Then we did the Big Move — driving from Texas to Brooklyn with Eric's truck pulling a trailer filled with the majority of the stuff we were bringing — in late February 2015.

Our style is lots of neutrals in different textures (white, cream, navy, and gray; a velvet couch and velvet headboard, piles of super-soft blankets) with a vintage vibe. Our house in Houston was built in the early 2000s and while it's big, doesn't have the kind of natural character that lends itself to all the neat stuff we pick up at antique shops; the apartment does. And because it's so much smaller than our house (in an old email I told a friend it was 900 square feet but I need to double check that number), we essentially had to choose all the best stuff, and it stands out more. Of course, that means I have to limit my trips to the Brooklyn Flea now because there literally isn't room to display any more little knick-knacks, but all of the things we do have on display truly ~spark joy~.

Favorite things about the apartment:

  • The exposed brick wall in the bathroom, the claw foot tub (!!), and the fact that it was already painted a color that worked with the rest of our decor plans.
  • The sliding pocket doors in the bedroom and bathroom.
  • The incredibly high ceilings and all the moulding.
  • The fireplace in the bedroom (even though it's not functional).
  • The vintage army green desk that weighs a million pounds that I insisted on moving from Texas and finding a place for in the apartment.
  • The ivory couch. I know it's not practical, especially with two dogs, but I love it.
  • The IKEA laptop desk that I spray painted to turn into a bar cart.
  • The white shelving in the kitchen filled with all white dishes and a white stand mixer.
  • Our vintage jadeite collection, most of which we got as wedding gifts.
  • The gray zebra rug in the bedroom. I had been wanting a rug like that for four years before we finally had the right room for it/found one that fit our budget.

Least favorite things:

  • The HUGE TV over the fireplace in the bedroom. There's really no other place to put the TV (trust me, we tried so many arrangements in the living room and it just didn't work) and I'm not a fan of having a TV in the bedroom, especially one that big.
  • Our DIY dining table. This project was a NIGHTMARE and while I'm fine with it, I really want to re-paint it a different shade of blue. I have the paint, I've just been putting off dealing with it for months. (See also #7 here)
  • The huge air conditioning units in the bedroom and the living room. Absolutely worth it for the humid summers, but really, really not cute.

Thanks, Rachel!

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