Brandi’s Antique-Chic Prewar Brooklyn Apartment

updated Oct 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Name: Brandi Ware
Location: Crown Heights; Brooklyn, New York
Size: Approximately 970 square feet
Years lived in: 1.7 years; Rented

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Born and raised in New York City, and then moving back after several years in Texas, presented Brandi with several unique (and welcome) challenges. The first Brandi would encounter, of course, was New York’s notorious rental market, which is discouraging for even a blue-blooded New Yorker. But moments away from throwing the in the towel and staying at her childhood home in Queens, Brandi found her spacious one-bedroom apartment (with an eat-in kitchen!) through a friend. She demonstrates the pride of being in her very own place and back in her hometown through her use of curated family heirlooms and antiques, as well as a collection of refurbished furniture pieces that have ultimately led to her passion project, Brandi Ware Design.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Brandi’s interior styling skills debunk the theory that you have to spend a lot of money to achieve an established decor scheme, or that you have to have lived there for a long time. Most of the home accents and decorative features throughout the home were sourced from family and antique flea markets. Brandi scored classic furniture pieces from Craigslist at a fraction of their value, which she then expertly refurbished. Despite having lived in her home for less than two years, and moving back to New York without any furnishings, Brandi has pulled together a cohesive and chic space.

This up-and-coming interior decorator also draws inspiration from places that she visits. The branch and lantern fixture about her dining table was inspired by a visit to a restaurant. Already possessing a knack for DIY, Brandi was able to replicate the same fixture in her own home with branches that a friend was discarding, and lanterns from World Market. She also recently returned from a trip to Turkey where her love for hand-painted tiles was satiated—almost. Because such accents are challenging to integrate into rentals, she still dreams of the day that she owns a home where she can incorporate tiles and other investment pieces into the design of her kitchen and/or bathroom. But until then, Brandi has a designed a very hospitable and personalized home.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: That is really hard to nail down. It all depends on the project and my source of inspiration at that particular moment in time. If I had to categorize my style I would say it’s an eclectic mix of old and new. I love refinishing old pieces and mixing and matching. The majority of furniture pieces in my apartment are pre-loved. Most of which I have re-worked to compliment my design. My grandmother, friends, and Craigslist are the sources of some of my favorite pieces.

Inspiration: West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Grandma, HomeGoods, Nate Berkus for Target

Favorite Element: Openness and flow of my space; I am a minimalist at heart. One of my favorite quotes is by William Morris – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Biggest Challenge: Painting is a huge challenge because of the sheer amount of crown molding in the pre-war design aesthetic. My brother was a saint to paint my bedroom and the nine crown molding frames! So I prefer to incorporate color in my space through other means – art and textiles.

What Friends Say: Friends give me tons of compliments on my space. My visitors find my space cozy. A few of them have encouraged me to contact Apartment Therapy – funny enough. Most of my friends are amazed at how little I spend on furniture and are pleasantly surprised at my DIY skill set that no one knew I had – myself included.

Biggest Embarrassment: My closets. I am ashamed of the amount of clothes, shoes, and accessories that I own. My next project is designing additional shelving in my closets so that I can organize all of my STUFF.

Proudest DIY: There are two toss ups for my proudest DIY – my caned back bench and my wood armoire.

I reupholstered my caned back bench, with the help of some friends, after receiving quotes upwards of $600. I thought there is no way I am going to pay that amount of money to reupholster a bench I bought for a whopping $50! After purchasing fabric, foam, batting, and nailhead from Mood Fabrics and watching a couple of tutorials on YouTube, I set out on a mission; a few hours and less than $100 later, voila a reupholstered caned back bench.

My wood armoire is my proudest and most beautiful piece to date (in my opinion). When I purchased it (from Craigslist of course) – it had a shiny veneer finish that I found to be dated and non-complementary to my existing pieces. So I removed the finish, stained the piece, and applied some paint for a light distressed look. I love it! To me it is more than a piece of furniture – it is a work of art.

Biggest Indulgence: Pillow top mattress

Best Advice: Start with a favorite piece(s) and build from there. There are no set “rules” to design. My brother laughs at me all the time when I say a certain space or furniture piece that I am working on has not yet “spoke to me.”

Dream Sources: Anything from any place in Italy!

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Resources of Note:


  • Benjamin Moore: Pale Smoke (bedroom)


  • Console table: Broyhill console table reworked by Brandi Ware
  • Mirror : HomeGoods
  • Lamp: Pier 1 Imports
  • Thomas radio: Antique Mall of Charleston


  • Couch: Martha Stewart
  • Side table: Thomasville painted by Brandi Ware
  • TV stand / Console Table: HomeGoods
  • Armoire: Craiglist painted by Brandi Ware
  • Blue Moorish lantern: Grandmother
  • Tripod lamp: JC Penney
  • Beat silver table lamps: Overstock
  • Art on trunk: Ghanaian artist, name Uknown
  • Buddha head: HomeGoods
  • Vase on armoire: Gift
  • Pillows: Target, HomeGoods, Crate & Barrel
  • Mirror above bar cart: Craigslist


  • Dining chairs: Restoration Hardware
  • Decorative basket: Macy’s, Made in Rwanda
  • Assorted hanging lanterns: World Market, assembled by Brandi Ware


  • Bedside Art –Untitled by Gabrielle Watson
  • Wall Art –Happy Bride by Niki’s Groove
  • Comforter: HomeGoods
  • Side chairs: Craigstlist
  • Lamp: Macy’s
  • Curtains: Marshall’s


  • DIY art – Museum of Sex postcards, Ikea frames
  • (Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

    Thanks, Brandi

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    Re-edited from a tour originally published in 2015 – AB