Alina's Dar Gitane: Home of the Wanderer

Alina's Dar Gitane: Home of the Wanderer

Jill Slater
Sep 5, 2012

Name: Alina
Location: Navy Yard/Wallabout, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1700 square feet loft
Years Lived In: 8 years

It's hard to find a bad vantage point in Alina's gorgeous, lovingly curated home. She's taken her incredible eye for style, quality and soulfulness around the world and brought back jaw-dropping gems. Dropping one's jaw upon entering Alina's home would not be out of the ordinary.

Alina was looking for a new place to live almost a decade ago when she came upon a loft recently abandoned by a woodworker. He left all his tools as well as 1700 square feet of stuff — including a tower of rail ties, a tremendous collection of wood, and the detritus of 20 years of life and business. Alina spent a few months emptying the space, filling up dumpster upon dumpster until she could see the floor and begin to imagine building her own home there.

Alina takes style seriously. It feeds her soul. The details, the texture, the composition and the colors will transport. Alina's handiness and patience to build a guest room, a bedroom, to replace cracked window panes, to refinish a woodworkers table can't help but impress and overwhelm an observer with envy. Some of her favorite pieces are remnants of that woodshop, refinished or stained to take on a more Alina favored patina.

There is history here, and a clear sign of investment, care and time. Alina's home is a wonder. (For more details, check out the annotations in the slideshow.)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: I would define what I am drawn to and what I surround myself with as 'soulful self expression.' It's a style that is eclectic. I think we all have many sides to our style, what we create, and what we are drawn to. I travel a lot and I like to explore, so style for me has strong roots in a bohemian worldliness. I like to balance my city living industrial loft with natural and raw elements. I call this countryside glamour — hewn wood next to polished surfaces. At my style core I am drawn to both masculine and feminine stylings. My studio expresses both of those sensibilities. My style palette is quite muted but rich in saturation — often these are the tones one might find on a refined material or object that shows decay. I think we can express a lot about ourselves on palette alone. I often will place a small surprise of color in a special place, sometimes just for me, I love the element of surprise. I think when someone enters my space they immediately know that I love to use deep rich textures of ebony, a bit of 'rock nonchalance' makes me feel relaxed in my skin. I call my style 'dar gitane.' I think it fits.

Inspiration: I am inspired by people and things everyday, but there are certain things that resonate with me such as travel wanderings, inventive uses for materials, creative work and artistry that has a soul, the ancestry of lifestyle and how we change and live with our surroundings in day to day life, simplicity, and even things I have been living with for years as they have the ability to sooth me with their scale, curves, color, pattern and texture. Ahhh and then there is li elderkoort, Elieen Gray, Madame Lanvin, the late great Alexander Mcqueen, Balenciaga, Coco, Vreeland, Eva Hesse, and Louise Bourgeois.

Favorite Element: Good light! I couldn't live without sunshine in my home. My home is also my atelier and a place to dream and create. Sun is very important and I am lucky enough to have it follow me throughout the day. It's lovely. The best is seeing two little cats basking in it and watching the magic hour sun streaming across my floor in the summer. I also love my art and photo collage wall — it keeps many memories.

Biggest Challenge: My big windows. Although I love them one window alone is 16' x 8' feet, and that means cold in the winter.

What Friends Say: "Where did you get this?" and "Your space is such an expression of you."

Biggest Embarrassment: My Pandora's box storage closet. I constantly have objects rotating so this closet holds them and anything in limbo, in safe-keeping. It gets out of control sometimes, but I love having it. My aunt says it is my little garage.

Proudest DIY: I do natural dying. I have a line of linens launching this year. Pretty colors in pomegranate, various woods and barks. They're lovely. But I think my real favorite might the tufted stool I completed... I finished it in these tiny nail heads and I think that really gave it its voice.

Biggest Indulgence: Buying art and an old dowry chest from the Sahara Desert I recently brought back from Marrakech.

Best Advice: When you are over-whelmed with what design project to start, start with the one that annoys you the most. Then there is my favorite by Kahil Gibran: "Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye." This statement always stays with me.

Dream Source/Resources: Well my favorite dream source that has come to fruition is dar gitane. I started this company so that I could offer all the things I love to others. I shop there too. Then there is Terrain, a gorgeous marriage of nature and design and ABC Carpet & Home which mesmerizes me.



    • French market baskets: Jeanne Beatrice for dar gitane


    • Tire tubs: Tade for dar gitane • Poufs: dosa home • Bajot tea tables: dar gitane • Printed silver table: vintage West Elm • Pillows: Zara home


    • Glass domes: dar gitane • Chairs and work tables: vintage salvage


    • Most every element is vintage. • Coverlet: Ralph Lauren • Sheets: Mateo vintage wash


    • Table: Big Sur from Crate and Barrel • Chairs: vintage • Table pendant light: vintage Murano


    • Claw tub and furnishings: vintage • Accessories and soaps: dar gitane • Towels: Hand-woven in South Africa for dar gitane

For more details on Alina's kitchen, check out Alina's Exotic Cooking Lair on

Thanks Alina!

(Images: Jill Slater)

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