‘Brownstone of Dreams’ Is the Name These Two Thespians Gave Their Colorful NYC Apartment
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On a quiet, tree-lined residential street in the NYC neighborhood of Harlem sits a beautiful turn-of-the-century building, or what Andrea Prestinario and Klea Blackhurst call their “Brownstone of Dreams.” The couple spontaneously moved into their ground floor apartment five years ago after a chance meeting with a realtor who effectively handed them the spot then and there. Now they hope to never leave! The homey, warm space, with its pops of decorative orange, ever-trendy red brick, a dark wood staircase to nowhere, and an entire basement below, is a steal in Manhattan. Plus, they have a huge backyard.
Both women are professional musical theater actors, and in Klea’s case, a trumpeter, too. Over the years they took time to combine their eclectic interior design styles, book, and art collections and created a gallery wall dedicated to family, friends, prints, sketches, and even performance posters and album covers that they respectfully star in.
Andrea and Klea’s apartment is much like a sanctuary for the two artists who regularly travel—they created a space that acts as a respite from the busy world they both buzz in. They enjoy having dinner parties in the spacious yard, practicing for shows on their new piano, and singing tunes alongside their dog, Sprout, who harmonizes with howls.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Mid-century meets femme bohemian meets urban artistic oasis
Favorite Element: Klea – We thought we’d hate the low ceilings but we’ve grown to really love them. It feels very cozy and homey.
Biggest Challenge: It costs a lot to heat (it’s a furnace, not radiator heat), and it’s still super drafty and freezing in the winter.
Biggest Embarrassment: The ’90s kitchen decor. Because we are renters, we don’t really have the ability or the resources to make the desired changes. Nevertheless we’re stuck with these weird green countertops and cherry-tinted cupboards. One day we’ll inspire the landlord to make some upgrades, but until then we make peace with knowing that at least we have a dishwasher and a lot of counter space!
Proudest DIY: Klea – Our “Library.” We have a stairway that leads to nowhere (there’s a door up there that opens to the parlor level lobby, but it’s locked on both sides), and we didn’t know what to do with it at first. But then it hit us: how about a library?! We are huge readers and have pretty extensive collections on musical theatre and gender studies. We decided to put in some shelves on the wall at the top of the staircase, along with a pillow so you can sit and read or peruse comfortably. And then we put some book piles on each step of the stairs on the right side. We love that it is both creative and practical.
Biggest Indulgence: Andrea – Our burnt orange sectional couch from West Elm. All told, it wasn’t that much of a splurge, but for our budget it was. I never actually owned a couch until I was 33, and it was this one. When I was in my 20s, hustling as a starving artist, getting all of my furniture from thrift stores, I couldn’t conceptualize how friends just very casually could afford to buy a couch when I could barely afford my rent. I spent a lot of energy envisioning a future with a burnt orange (my favorite color) couch. When Klea and I started dating and then moved in together and wanted to really make a home, I was so excited to make the couch dreams become a reality, and was so elated when we found this West Elm sectional. I’m also so grateful Klea was on board with this color, because it’s not everyone’s favorite! But it truly does match well with the exposed brick. I love the fire-y color palette of our apartment.
Best Advice: You can find those dream pieces in the oddest of places you just have to think outside of the box: our shag rug is from Costco. I mean… pretty weird and wonderful.
- $20 cheap benches from Lot-Less that we DIY’d (with the help of designer friend Emily Rohm) with faux fur from Mood Fabrics.
- Artwork: a reproduction of the 1923 print of Klea’s grandfather’s football team. He was an All-American for the University of Utah. Custom framing by H&M Art Gallery in Harlem.
- Plant stand – Target (Project 62)
- Large rectangular mirror – IKEA
- Lateral grey filing cabinet – Jenson-Lewis
- Burnt Orange sectional couch — West Elm
- Shag Pillows — DIY by Andrea’s mother
- Yellow Pillows — Gift
- Round coffee table — IKEA
- Entertainment Center / Console — IKEA. We DIY’d it and added legs from Home Depot to it.
- White Bookshelf — Target
- Curio Cabinet — IKEA
- Pen Display Case Collection — Levenger
- Shag Rug — Costco
- Bar Stools — Target
- Eames imitation Vegan Chair — Wayfair
- Magazine holder – Flea market find
- Plant container — West Elm
- Artwork: Moby Dick bronze sculpture — from local artist in St. John, Virgin Islands
- Artwork: Nude woman painting — Columbus, OH Art Fair in1992. (Artist: A. Susanne Poag) Klea’s first piece of original artwork.
- Hollywood-style spot lamp — IKEA
- Typewriter – Flea market find
- Dancing girl figurine – Lladro
- Kurzweil electric piano – PIANO PIANO on 54 th Street
- Black & White Canisters – Jonathan Adler
- Floating Shelves — Etsy
- Chrome canisters – CB2
- Macrame pothos plant holder – Local artist friend Kristian Espiritu
- Burnt Orange Headboard —Wayfair
- Burnt Orange Bench — West Elm
- White architect desk — Target
- Photo ledge shelving, aluminum – CB2
- Wallpaper — CB2
- Round Mirror — CB2
- Hers and Hers Midcentury 6-drawer dressers, White — West Elm
- Metal Bedside tables and lamps — IKEA
- Jute rug — Wayfair
- Artwork — 1980 poster art for production of “Antigone,” original
- Bedspread Grey Duvet Cover — Brooklinen
- Artwork: Moby Dick bronze sculpture – From local artist in St. John, Virgin Islands
- Captain Ahab mug – Royal Doulton
- Artwork: original, nude woman painting – By artist friend Alison Cassidy Norton
- Bar cart – Thrift find from Urban Garden Center
- Chaise, table & chairs, plant shelving, and plant containers – hand-me-down
purchases from friends who moved to L.A.
Thanks Andrea and Klea!