This Brooklyn Designer Pays Tribute to Relatives in a 600-Square-Foot Apartment

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A stove top with a green dutch over, silver teapot, and black cast iron pan on top.
Credit: Ruthie Tane
The kitchen is small but mighty! As a cook and baker, I've made sure every surface has a clear purpose and storage is optimized. The picture above the stove is of my mom and her grandmother (who were both wonderful cooks). Makes me smile whenever I look up from whatever I'm cooking.

Name: Ruthie Tane
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 1 years, renting

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Credit: Ruthie Tane
Since my bedroom is tiny and gets very little natural light, I leaned into the cave-like character. The walls are painted a dark navy and a projector is mounted above my bed with a pull-down screen opposite it. There is nothing better than curling up in this bedroom watching a movie on a cold weekend.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’m a freelancer who works in design (interiors and branding), food, and urban planning. I most recently launched a Brooklyn-based latke pop-up called Solly’s Latkes (@sollyslatkes). This tiny kitchen produced over 2,000 latkes during the past holiday season!

Needless to say, my 1.5-bedroom apartment has a lot of roles to fill. The “.5” is the small dark room that was built to be a home office but instead functions as my dark, cave-like bedroom.

Credit: Ruthie Tane
I rarely have fresh flowers on my breakfast nook table, but when I do I photograph them.

My grandfather was in the antique furniture business so I grew up surrounded by ever-changing furniture decor. On a typical Saturday morning, I would walk into our family living room to all of the furniture rearranged.

I inherited this bug and now that I’ve begun taking on interior design clients, I find myself using my own home as a canvas where I can constantly test out different decor and layouts. Most recently, after seeing the ugly faux-wood wall in my bathroom, I tried many different materials to cover it in a renter-friendly way before landing on cork. While it doesn’t look as great as I wanted it to with my haphazard installation method, I’m not yet tired of the experiment.

Credit: Ruthie Tane

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Sentimental, cozy, bold.

Credit: Ruthie Tane
My home office is the only room in the apartment that gets south-facing sun. While I love a bold palette, I kept this room neutral so that it wouldn't distract from the calm natural light that pours in. Instead of introducing many new colors, I layered different patterns and textures in.

What is your favorite room and why? My home office/design studio/guest room. Even though it’s tasked with playing multiple roles, the sun that pours in there makes it easily the most relaxing place to spend time in my apartment.

Credit: Ruthie Tane
My living room is open to the kitchen but I wanted to make it feel like a distinct space. I painted it off-black to provide that separation. The dark background makes the green couch pop and also does a great job at disguising my TV against the wall.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My grandmother is in the process of downsizing, which means each time I visit to help her, I go home with bags of items I didn’t know I needed. She recently gave me a hammered metal dish that she made at summer camp in the 1930s! It sits on my entryway table for my keys and makes me smile every time I enter and exit the apartment.

Credit: Ruthie Tane
The bathroom vanity was a faux wood gray that I recovered with contact paper and painted black, giving it better contrast with the cork wall.

Any advice for creating a home you love? In the last few years, I lost my mom, grandfather, and aunt. It has… not been fun! For me, nesting in my home has been an important part of the grieving process. My advice to anyone else grieving is to (if it feels right) consider highlighting memories of those you’ve lost throughout your home, whether it be through a photograph above your stove or an old tchotchke as a bookend. There are so few corners of our lives where we can keep visual displays that remind us of them so it’s been comforting to me to take advantage of these.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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