Name: Aurélie Desmas and her husband
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, renting
Originally from France, decorator and photographer Aurélie Desmas has lived in Paris, London, and now New York, where she's currently the founder and lead decorator of Maison KoduZen. Though versed in plenty of styles, her focus is on what kind of energy you can create in a home through decor. And the vibes in the home she shares with her husband are creative, peaceful, and industrial cool.
Aurélie shares the story of her home:
It was the first apartment I moved in with my then-boyfriend (now husband) and we could not decide between Fort Greene and Williamsburg. My partner in crime had figured that if he wanted me to move to his 'hood, he would need to find THE place with a strong wow factor on the industrial loft spectrum (and he found it). The entrance of the building exhibits a collection of typewriters from the former factory it used to be, along with its safe, which was already impressive. Then the space: High ceiling, exposed bricks, a beautiful engineered wood floor, and brand new appliances got me to say "I JUST WANT TO LIVE HERE" as soon as we walked out.
When we said we were moving to a large studio apartment, a few people commented that living in an open space like this was not going to be easy. Thing is, my husband is on the introvert side of the spectrum and I do not need to have music blasting loud either, so this space works perfectly for us (no kids, no pets surely help). I think to some degree, it even got us to discover each other and be more connected (and no argument can last for too long when there is no door to slam!)
My favorite memory in this space will always be the day we got married. It was only the two of us and a photographer and after going to the town hall and the river front, we came home to sip champagne and take some more snapshots in our "living room" on our rooftop (which is also gorgeous). We were so happy and relaxed; those pictures are among my favorite of that special day.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Contemporary Eclectic/Scandinavian
Inspiration: When it comes to the style, we were initially tempted to go industrial full-on but the apartment was unfortunately not very bright so this would have darkened the interior even more. So we decided to go with a very light/white palette inspired by Scandinavian designs with natural wood materials and very sleek lines.
Favorite Element: The brick walls: It gives so much character and such a vibe to a space with absolutely no effort. It is also such a great backdrop to any artwork, although it can be tough to figure where to put a nail in (and I am not even talking about getting it lined up straight!)
What is your favorite room and why? The bedroom area, as we cannot really talk about a specific room. I like how the lighting at night gives it a totally different vibe, very romantic and cozy with the canopy-like mini lights we have placed in. It really has a different personality while blending nicely with the rest during the day and not looking too intimate that people would not feel comfortable hanging out in our living room (that is right next to it).
If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? Larger windows to get more light in. Although the orientation is perfect with the sunlight in the morning, I would love having more of it at all times.
Is there anything that embarrasses you about your home? The fact I never got around to doing something about the window treatment—given we are renting and no windows are ever the same size in New York, we did not want to invest, but I wish I would have proper blackout curtains.
What do friends say about your home when they visit? Waouh! Is often the first word people say when they walk in—as the volume of the space is rather grandiose (the very tall ceiling and the entire space can be seen from the front door—it is rather impressive).
Biggest Challenge: The space itself is one big room (about 900 square feet) with only two doors (one for the walk-in closet and one for the bathroom). The initial challenge was basically to define the space to make it functional and create "areas" so we could host parties without having the feeling people are hanging out in our bedroom (while it was theoretically the case). So we used rugs, low-rise bookshelves and other furniture to make sure we were keeping the light in while creating functional "rooms."
Proudest DIY: The dining table: It used to be a light pinewood shade and two summers ago, I decided I wanted something a little more boho-chic so I sanded it entirely, repainted the legs off-white, distressed them and painted the top with a dark walnut stain. And then last year, I decided it was too dark again so I sanded the top to leave it natural. I do not think I can sand this thing anymore at this point.
Biggest Indulgence: Frames and mounting for our artwork and photography. Those will follow us wherever we go and bring joy (as well as color) in our space so we splurged a little bit on them. Thanks goodness we have a great frame studio near our apartment (Frames on L).
Best Advice: If you love a space, even if you wonder about the setup, or how to organize it—don't think twice, go for it! Interior design is a labor of love and it may take time but you will find the right place for everything and be proud to have mastered your space eventually.
PAINT & COLORS
Decorator's White by Behr
Tall Chair — Found in the street, re-upholstered with Mood fabric
Shelves — Home Depot
Olga Gray Area Rug — All Modern
Sectional — IKEA
Coffee Table – West Elm (no longer available)
Artwork on Wall — Marimekko
Trio Floor Lamp Brushed Nickel — CB2
Mill C Table — CB2
Table lamp — Craigslist
Tray — Purchased during a trip to Haiti
Media Console Peekaboo – CB2
Armchair Blue Leather – Craigslist
Cabinet — Crate and Barrel (no longer available)
Artwork on Cabinet — Jennifer Leaver
Dining Table – Craigslist
Long Butcher Block — IKEA (no longer available)
Placemats — Purchased during a trip to Estonia
Wishbone Chairs – Rove Concept
Mobile Chandelier – West Elm
Ceramic Prairie Dog — Valerie Courtet
Candle Holders and Vase — CB2 (no longer available)
Photography — Aurelie Desmas
Fruit Bowl – MoMA Store
Nixon Mid-century Beige Linen Bed – Overstock
Bedding — West Elm
Nightstands – IKEA
Artwork — Lotus leaf canvas from Himapan, hand painted by Aurelie
Metal Artwork — Found on a trip to Haiti
Hotel Sign — Made by Roger and Aurelie for a theater set
Bedside Lamps — Found in London
Desk Storage, Structure and Table Top — IKEA
Pegboard — Crest Hardware
Standing Desk — Staples
Jellyfish Lamp — Made by Aurelie and Roger
Desk Lamp and Hardware on Pegboard — IKEA
Collage Artwork — Aurelie