Before & After: This Blah Brownstone’s Joyful Update Has Wallpaper that Made Us Gasp

Before & After: This Blah Brownstone’s Joyful Update Has Wallpaper that Made Us Gasp

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Jill Porter and Steve Larson (plus two kids)
Location: Carroll Gardens — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 1,440 square feet
Years Lived In: 16 years, owned

House tour cover

Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox

Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter

When we purchased our apartment 16 years ago, we never thought we’d live here more than five years or so. The space was incredibly rational and neutral, lacking the pre-war detailing found in neighboring brownstones, or the quirks and idiosyncrasies found in older homes. Over the years, however, we’ve created a home that we adore, and it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else in Brooklyn! What the apartment lacks in original details, we made up for in our finishes and furnishings, as our furniture, art, and objects all feel deeply personal. They’ve not only been the backdrop to countless family get-togethers, birthday celebrations, and work-from-home Zoom calls, but spark memories of trips, adventures, and moments in time.

Unlike most new NYC apartments, our eat-in-kitchen is separate from the rest of the living spaces, so it doesn’t bleed into the rest of the apartment. I love having this separation, as being in the kitchen feels like a getaway from the rest of our space. When we recently renovated the kitchen, we kept the separation and opted to make the kitchen even smaller. By altering the layout, we traded free space for more efficient cabinetry. The end result is a kitchen that punches above its weight. It feels like a well-designed jewel box! Furthermore, the separate kitchen makes entertaining is a breeze. We host countless holiday and birthday celebrations and never feel overwhelmed by people, kids, or dogs. See more of Jill’s style on the Jill Porter Architect website.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Crisp, modern, joyful.

Inspiration: I’ve spent a lot of time in the painting studio, so I’m always inspired by art. 

Favorite Element: Light! With so many south- and west-facing windows, our apartment is awash in sunlight all year round. 

Biggest Challenge: Family living, with all its stray Legos, scraps of paper, and charging cables, can overwhelm a space, so we opted to add color and pattern to camouflage the way our family lives. Slick interiors are lovely, but incredibly unforgiving. Layering patterns and color enables us to truly live in our space without feeling like one out of place book or coffee cup will ruin the interior composition. 

Biggest Indulgence: Art! Buying art always feels like an indulgence, yet every piece brings me so much joy. 

Best Advice: When it comes to space and stuff, value quality over quantity. And if you think your stuff has reached a tipping point, give it a sense of order; repetition of anything can turn the ordinary into a design statement. 

What’s your best home secret? Our home is small, but well organized, so we know where to drop backpacks, shoes, and homework. There is a place for everything! With every project, I try to understand how clients move through their space and day—from when they enter the front door, to when they put their head on the pillow. If I create an interior that supports that script, there should be no misplaced keys, glasses, or dirty socks.



  • Kitchen — Benjamin Moore, “Cloud Cover”
  • Dining/Living — Benjamin Moore, “Ashwood”
  • Trim — Benjamin Moore, “White Dove”
  • Bathroom — Benjamin Moore, “Chantilly Lace”


  • Bench — Alvar Aalto bench 153A
  • Coat Tree — Pure Design
  • Print — J. Otto Seibold, “Bull in a China Shop”
  • Drawing — Dan Keegan, “By Moonlight”


  • Wallpaper — Jocelyn Warner, Tree Tops
  • Print — Alicia McCarthy, “Untitled (1C)”
  • Drawing — Dan Keegan, “Albert’s Dilemma”
  • Photograph — Eirik Johnson, “Freshly Felled Trees”
  • White end table — Slit table, HAY Design
  • Rug — Smarties, Rug Company
  • Sofa — Neo, Niels Bendtsen
  • Console — Line Media Console, Nathan Young for Design Within Reach
  • Lounge Chair — Noomi Swivel Chair, Susanne Grønlund for Softline
  • Lounge Chairs — Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair


  • Chairs — Kai Kristiansen Rosewood Dining Chairs, Model 42
  • Table — Scandinavian vintage, unknown
  • Bookshelves — custom, Little Wolf Cabinet Shop
  • Pendant — Vibia
  • Drawing — Ann Toebbe, “Room Air Conditioner”
  • Side table — Antique, from great-grandparents’ shoe store in Iowa


  • Pendant— Bubble Chandelier, Pelle
  • Wallpaper — Josef Frank, Svenskt Tenn
  • Tile — Ann Sacks, Savoy Ribbed
  • Table — Eames
  • Chairs — Series 7 Arne Jacobsen, Fritz Hansen
  • Kitchen Cabinets — Wood-Mode
  • Counter — Caesarstone, Fresh Concrete
  • Print — Greg Colson, “How to Look Your Best” 
  • Faucet — Grohe Minta
  • Sink — Elkay
  • Stove — Wolf
  • Fridge — Subzero


  • Lights — Crisp, Rich Brilliant Willing
  • Wall Tile — Ann Sacks Savoy
  • Floor Tile — Complete Tile, 2” black hex
  • Tub — Duravit
  • Shower Hardware — Axor Citterio M, Hansgrohe
  • Sink Hardware — Taos, Crosswater
  • Vanity — Kohler

Thanks Jill!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.