Name: Rachael Bennett and cute puppy, Kuma
Location: Crown Heights — Brooklyn, NY
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting
Architect Rachael Bennett doesn't think you should be scared of designing without color. "I find many people think that 'neutrals' or 'black and white' is either going to be boring (beige on beige on beige, or worse, sterile and cold)," she writes. "But the amount of richness and warmth you can create with just texture, pattern, and materiality, makes for a space just as visually interesting as one with color." Her home—a 900-square-foot apartment she's been renting for over six months—may not have a bunch of bright colors, but it does show how you can master the art of layering to create a bold, monochromatic home.
It's not just an embrace of black and white that defines Rachael's home; her style is also inspired by her family and the natural landscape of where she was raised. "I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, so I have a lot of mountain imagery throughout the house." And the photographs that hang above her bed where actually taken in a Miami sculpture garden in the '60s by her grandfather. "My mother had no idea they existed, and after my grandfather passed away, she and her sister found the negatives buried in his belongings. Now everyone in the family has a few of the prints in their homes."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Monochromatic, layered, transitional.
Inspiration: New York City boutique hotels, (I could spend all day at 1 Hotel Brooklyn or Baccarat Hotel). Anything that connects me to my home or family. Living in New York can feel at times like you're without roots, so any piece of decor—an elk antler, yerba mate gourds, or a painting by a local artist that ties me to home, is something that will earn a focal point in my apartment. Various blogs, Coco Lapine Design and Homey Oh My are two of my favorites.
Favorite Element: The hair-on hide rug in my living room. My great-grandmother brought it from Argentina as a wedding gift for my parents in the '70s. It will need to be restored eventually but has held up beautifully considering its age.
Biggest Challenge: The entry foyer being so narrow. It is challenging for more than one person at a time to be able to take their shoes and coat off in the space, so any furniture and decor in the space needed to be big on storage and small in profile.
What Friends Say: "This apartment is huge!" (for New York standards). Followed by, "It looks like you live in a magazine." Followed by, "How much do you pay in rent?" (because again, New York).
Biggest Embarrassment: All the walls and floors in this apartment are sloped, so there isn't a single right angle anywhere in the apartment. Every piece of furniture looks like it's tilted. It drives me nuts!
Proudest DIY: I don't really attempt many DIY projects, mainly because I tend to lose motivation halfway through a project, so can I talk about My Proudest Steal instead? I'm an avid Craigslister. I usually check the site multiple times a day. The inventory in NYC is amazing, people in big cities usually have access to a wider variety of sources, and the city is so transient, people are always trying to get rid of items quick and often at a huge discount. My favorite deal recently is the bentwood floor lamp in my living room. It's a $400 lamp that I paid $40 for. I actually spotted it on Craigslist while I was out of town, and luckily, I have a roommate that was willing to go pick it up and carry it home across lower Manhattan and half of Brooklyn.
Biggest Indulgence: My Tempur-Pedic bed, by far the most expensive thing I've ever bought for an apartment.
Best Advice: Other than utilizing Craigslist? Probably to not let the idea of designing without color scare you. I find many people think that "neutrals" or "black and white" is going to be boring (beige-on-beige-on-beige, or worse, sterile and cold). But the amount of richness and warmth you can create with just texture, pattern, and materiality, makes for a space just as visually interesting as one with color. Layer, layer, layer!
Dream Sources: Restoration Hardware, Design within Reach, The Citizenry.
Hemnes Shoe Cabinet — IKEA
Purchased on Craigslist for $40, with custom knobs
Mirror – Source unknown, purchased on Craigslist for $10
Richohome Wall Coat and Hat Hooks – Amazon
Print – "Kessy" by Floyd Grey – signed, limited edition print.
Mini Vases – J. Crew Outlet
Key Dish – Etta And Odie
Montauk Collection Handmade Flatweave Black and Ivory Cotton Runner – Safavieh
Sofa — Macy's, style no longer available
Penelope Armchair — Macy's
POÄNG armchair — IKEA
Brass side table — Craigslist
Concrete Planter – Etta and Odie
Dalfred Bar Stool – Ikea
North Carolina Mountain Prints – Etta and Odie
Luxe Faux Fur Throw – Restoration Hardware
Luxe Faux Fur Pillow Cover – Restoration Hardware
Ocean 1 Framed Wall Art – Deny Designs (purchased on Craigslist)
Marble and Brass Table Lamp – TJ Maxx
Stainless Steel Shiny Water Pitcher – CB2
Deer Head Wall Art – Three Hands
Line Rectangular Tray – American Atelier
Three of the Possessed Modern City Throw Pillow – Deny Designs
Stockholm Pillow Cover – IKEA
Devalan Tripod Floor Lamp Project 62 – Target
Ivory Faux Fur Throw – World Market
Mountain ABC poster – Coco Lapine
VITTSJO shelf unit – IKEA
Expedit Storage cubes – IKEA
Mirror – Craigslist
Eames Chair reproduction – Craigslist
Zebra print – IKEA (from Craigslist)
Cozy Morrocan Trellis White and Black Shag Rug – Super Area Rugs/Amazon
Quatrefoil Area Rug Black/White – Garland Rug/Amazon
Joan of Arc print – Society6
Marianna art print – Society6
White Peony Flower Stem – Crate and Barrel
Ada II White Table Lamp – CB2 (both lamps purchased on Craigslist)
Gold Framed Mirror – Found in my parents' furniture storage unit
Black Mesa Landscape Georgia O'Keeffe framed print – Birthday gift (in high school!) from my parents
Black and White patterned pillow cover – Craigslist
Headboard – Craigslist
Eames chair (reproduction) – Craigslist
Seagrass storage truck – Craigslist
Literary Prints — Etsy
Macrame Wall Hanging – TJ Maxx
Dressers – IKEA
Vanity – IKEA
Desk – IKEA
Filing storage cabinet – IKEA
Nightstand – IKEA (purchased on Craigslist with custom knob)
Wardrobes – IKEA
Fryken Seagrass containers — IKEA
Molger Open Storage Shelf — IKEA