Location: East Village
Size: 400 sqft
Favorite: The high quality of building materials and skill that went into this apartment even though it was built as a tenement.
"I like to convert things," says Yoktan. This is not an understatement. Yoktan, through his mere 400 square feet of real estate, takes us through the entire industrial age and into the 1950's in both France and the United States. Items are on display but they often serve a function as well...
Yoktan moved into the former tenement apartment this past summer. He has been working diligently since then to actively achieve a curated space. He removed linoleum from the floor and will be stripping the paint off all the door frames. He hired a contractor to expose brick on one whole side of the apartment, reseal the floors, and paint.
Even though almost all of his belongings are acquired rather than bought, the results are more particular than many people's purchased assemblages. Sometimes, people end up buying something they don't really want or even like. Yoktan has a keen eye for discarded materials. He knows what would work in his apartment and only takes home those things. Some objects wait patiently to get a prime display spot, while others are integrated immediately. For example, there are some 1940's ice trays that await transformation, whereas the oddly shaped maroon colored formica covered plywood is currently serving as a cantilevered coffee table within a pre-existing ladder. (see the slideshow).
Yoktan, one might say, has a perversion for objects. He is drawn to some objects to the point of having empathy for them. In order to save them from a landfill and obscurity, he turns them into something useful or uses them to make a worthy and notable contribution to his decor. While looking through the photos and the video, you will notice certain themes--the refrigerator, the 60's color palette, and creative storage alternatives.
Like many curbside shoppers, Yoktan's habits developed out of an inability to afford more conventional methods of acquisition. It pains him, now that he can afford to buy stuff, that he will occasionally succumb. He struggles with the pull in both directions.
Yoktan says his objects define his style. I think this is true to a certain extent, but I also think that he has a subconscious filter that lets in certain objects, colors, and styles, and keeps out others. He enjoys the limitations posed by decorating an apartment in this way and maintains an admirable patience and skill while doing so. It is a work in progress that will likely continue as such.
1. Use clear caulking to fill big gaps in old floor boards. The polyurethane seal is insufficient for this purpose.
2. When removing layers and layers of paint, use Peel Away #7. He has been experimenting with various methods of removal and this seems to work best. As opposed to scraping the paint off, the stripper will not cause paint chips (often lead filled paint chips) to fly around your apartment. Rather, it turns the paint into goo which you can then wipe away. It is also a much faster process.