Name: Sophie and Michael
Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York
Size: Full corner brownstone with rental unit
Years lived in: 3 years; Owned
Sophie and Michael live with their two kids in a sprawling Brooklyn brownstone. Rather than fill it with a lot of new stuff, they've scoured auctions and curbsides, bartered with artists, stumbled upon floor samples and discontinued items, adapted family heirlooms, and built their own furniture.
When Sophie and Michael first looked at the house, it was in a sad state indeed. Neighbors avoided the place, deeming it weird and scary. For decades it had served as a rooming house, in which each of the building's 12 units had a peephole and a locked door. By the time they placed their bid, only one boarder remained and the house was in an extreme state of disrepair.
Sophie and Michael, owners of a children's clothing and furniture design company, are very good at looking past obstacles to see their creativity- fueled vision. They were undeterred by the building's past and got the house with a severely under-market bid. Sophie describes their first year in the house as "living amongst rubble." They remained onsite through the kitchen and bathroom renovations. Along the way, they demolished almost all of the main floor's walls to create an open dining/living/cooking arrangement. Their carpenter began to seem like another family member, he was there so often. Eventually, a home started to take shape.
Neighborhood kids like to visit because Sophie and Michael's brownstone is full of fun, fantastical objects, and has far fewer rules of proper behavior than the other homes on the block. True celebrators of a life well lived, Sophie and Michael take more pleasure in a playful home than that which evokes a museum installation. Nothing is too precious.
When parents of playdates have walked in and asked "is it safe" or "when will it be finished," Sophie, born and raised in France, just looks at them with confusion. That is because building a home for her family is what Sophie refers to as a "life project." There are always opportunities for improvisation, innovation, and discovery.
"We like everything to have a story," explains Sophie. This must be why the brownstone oozes inspiration at every turn, and why it was so hard to say goodbye.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic.
Inspiration: What we love, what makes us smile and laugh, and brings comfort.
Favorite Element: I love that it’s a corner house. It’s very bright.
Biggest Challenge: We lived in a loft before and loved the wide open space it provided. Here our challenge is to live vertically. We removed all the walls we possibly could...
What Friends Say: "So, when are you going to be done?"
Biggest Embarrassment: Singing and dancing while the workers redoing the facade were laughing and waving from outside on the scaffolding.
Proudest DIY: Installing the floor model IKEA kitchen and tiling a bathroom floor with the grout and all. :)
Biggest Indulgence: The flying trapeze in the living room, an actual laundry room for the laundry, and two sinks in the kitchen.
Best Advice: Only have what you love.
Dream Sources: Emma's blog and Design Sponge
Resources of Note:
- Cardboard family portrait was commissioned by Italian artist Olivia Angelozzi
from Room and Board
from vintage monogrammed linen sheets
- Plaid couch throw from India made from old saris
trapeze made 20 years ago by my trapeze teacher at circus school in San Francisco
war clubs on the fireplace mantel as well as Lion head from Sri Lanka
- Mask from Congo
leather Eames lounge chair
edge ash table we made
from restoration hardware
Time magazine covers—each obtained by my mom who sent a cover to each famous person and asked for their autograph in the 40's and 50's.
in solid cherry wood made and bought in Venice, used to rest a gondola oar
- Vintage school light are from an auction in an old barn somewhere upstate New York
- 2 Bertoia chairs are from an auction. We were the only ones bidding on them!
- IKEA solid oak kitchen—discontinued model and thus $700 for whole thing
- Dream catcher was made by French artist Elodie Blanchard
- Elk antlers are from a garage sale in a village in Vermont
- Bedding is 100% linen—some vintage and some from restoration hardware.
- I designed the walnut desk in the office area when I was at Pratt
- Bollywood poster was made in India and a wedding gift depicting us
- The 3 little wood frames with sculptures in them were bought in a gallery in Paris.
- 3D family portrait was commissioned by Jaimie McGowan
- The sculpted plaster cube was made in a 3D design class at Pratt
- Old library ladder serves as our night table. That piece was also from a village auction.
- Big golden mirror was my grandmother's.
For a detailed tour of the kids' rooms in Sophie and Michael's home, check out Art-Fueled, Playful Kid Heaven.
Thanks, Sophie and Michael!
(Images: Jill Slater)
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