This Small Brooklyn Apartment Squeezes Art, DIYs, and Style Into Every Inch

updated Apr 13, 2021

This Small Brooklyn Apartment Squeezes Art, DIYs, and Style Into Every Inch

updated Apr 13, 2021
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Name: Ryan Ervin Cox
Location: Brooklyn — New York City, New York
Size: 650-ish square feet
Years Lived In: 10 years, renting

Ryan Cox freely admits that there might be something in his small Brooklyn rental apartment that makes you cringe. “I like to mix things that are beautiful and unruly, like my mom’s rose paintings and my uncle’s male nude sketches. . . . All these combined, I like to think of it as a gay man’s Modern Victorian Apothecary,” he writes below.

This art director with 20 years of experience with disciplines like products, interiors, branding, advertising, websites, videos, apparel and more, likes the objects in his apartment to have a story, and every where you turn your gaze, there’s a surprising detail to take in. But he’s not just a collector of unusual decor, he also creates; he is so skilled he can build or fix anything from computers to extremely clever kitchen “built-ins.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: “Brooklyn Maximalism”

Inspiration: I like everything in my space to have a story. Some items are naughty, some nice, many are historic. Your home should reflect all aspects of who you are, breaking rules because there really aren’t any. I like to mix things that are beautiful and unruly, like my mom’s rose paintings and my uncle’s male nude sketches. I also look to my favorite places in New York for inspiration: the Museum of Natural History, The Met, and The MOMA. Then I add in yard sales, old tools from workshops, artwork that brings me joy even from unknown artists. All these combined, I like to think of it as a gay man’s Modern Victorian Apothecary.

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: If you look carefully throughout my home, you’ll probably find something that makes you cringe, question, think, and hopefully find something loveable. Your home should be distinctly yours, not just a showroom set you bought and called it a home. All items that make people think. My favorite painting is “The Treachery of Images.”

Biggest Challenge: Trying to remember I live in a NYC-sized apartment and not some Golden Age Manor.

What Friends Say: WOW! Who dusts all this?

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Embarrassment: I’m always working on new projects and learning about new things. Oil paintings, drawing, photoshoots, sewing a “Friday night lewk,” rebuilding Macs, making scented candles, repairing old radios, painting walls/floors and then repainting them the next week. Honestly, the place is a mess half the time, which I’m learning to accept. One project can destroy the whole place for a few weeks until I have time to clean and reorganize. Thank God I have three closets to shove things into when guests come over.

Proudest DIY: Adding a washer/dryer and a seltzer machine. TRULY A NEW YORK GAME CHANGER

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Indulgence: Light fixtures! Who doesn’t love a huge chandelier? And technology stuff; I GEEK OUT and rebuild all my computers and want music clean and clear. I also try and buy artwork from my friends and I’ve run out of wall space as a result. I’m always moving things around to accommodate it all but maybe one day, I’ll have that huge manor upstate.

Best Advice: Have fun! Make a Pinterest board of what you love, narrow it down, AND STICK TO THE INSPIRATION BOARD. Proportions are SO IMPORTANT (especially in NYC apartments). Believe me, I love a giant leather chesterfield couch, but it will never fit and I’m just going to have to live with that. AND YOU CAN DO IT! Painting is easy! Changing faucets, updating dimmer switche, and hanging artwork is easy too! Always remember: there’s a YouTube video for everything!

Credit: Erin Derby

Dream Sources: We live in one of the most AMAZING CITIES in the world! GO OUTSIDE! Don’t just look at the big box store. There is literally inspiration EVERYWHERE HERE.



  • Living Room — Benjamin Moore “Mediterranean Olive/Grey Gardens”
  • Bathroom — Benjamin Moore “Spanish Olive”
  • Bedroom — Benjamin Moore “Kingsport Gray”
  • White — Benjamin Moore “Bright white”
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Monahan Sofa — Crate & Barrel
  • Dec Pillows — DwellStudios, Tommy Hilfiger, Peri Home
  • Sputnik Light Fixture — Arteriors
  • Lamps— DwellStudio/Vintage
  • Coffee Table — ​West Elm
  • Table/desk —  Ryan Ervin Cox original (I need the perfect size)
  • Curtains — IKEA
  • Curtain rods —  Restoration Hardware Estate Metal
  • Plants – Greenery Unlimited
  • Printer Stand — Ryan Ervin Cox, Bleached Antique Dresser/Antique Castors/Drawer Pulls are from plumbing store
  • Candles — Handmade by Ryan Ervin Cox
  • Mac — Tricked out vintage Apple
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Kitchen Shelves — ​Kungfors System
  • Dinnerware / Hardgoods /Silverware — Calvin Klein: Georgica Dover Collection
  • Mixer — 1941 Mix Master
  • Baking items — REC’s Grandmothers
  • Cooking Pots — 1960s Corning Ware : Buffet Server
  • Oven/Washer/Dryer — Avanti (Apartment size)
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Bedroom set — ​Mid-century Vintage
  • Sputnik Chandelier — Jonathan Adler
  • Curtain rods —  Restoration Hardware Estate Metal
  • Curtains ­— Belgian Texture Linen Drapery
  • Mattress — Casper
  • Bedding — DwellStudio, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karin, Vinage wool Italian Military blankets
  • Tray — Calvin Klein
  • Bedside Bowls — Calvin Klein
  • Bowl (in tray) — Jonathan Adler/ABC Furniture
  • Desk/Chair — Amazon
  • Stereo/Amp — Numark/Vintage Sony/Bose
  • Mac — Tricked out Vintage Apple
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Mirror — ​Craigslist
  • Chandelier — DwellStudio
  • Bath Accessories — Dwellstudios/Micheal Aram
  • Towels — Wellbe
  • Vintage Radio/TV — eBay
  • Piggie Banks — Sayulita Mexico
  • Elvis Bust — A Brooklyn curb
  • Selfcare — Le Labo, Kiehl’s, Goldfield & Banks, Givenchy and “exclusive” CVS brands… lol

Thanks Ryan!

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