Before & After: A Brooklyn Apartment Proves that Family Heirlooms and Decluttering Can Coexist

Before & After: A Brooklyn Apartment Proves that Family Heirlooms and Decluttering Can Coexist

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

Interior designer: Julia Mack
Location: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Size: 900 square feet
Years Lived In: 5 years, owned

This really is the forever home for this globetrotting client. And when at home in Carroll Gardens, she is working in her newly repurposed dining room, because why save it just for special dinners and holidays when it functions so beautifully as a workspace?

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

Loaded down with family hand-me-downs including a cushioned, overstuffed armchair, two unmatched loveseats (one in beige and the other red), and an abundance of heavy wood furniture, the space was overcrowded, dark, and disorganized—no sparking joy here! Sentimentally attached to two wood storage pieces (one holding the TV and the other holding tea cups) plus the dining room set, in stepped professional interior Julia Mack to rebalance and reorganize the sad, stuffy space. By carefully sketching and measuring out the space, the new colorful area rug now floats like an island, balanced left to right and front to back. And a window wall of textural curtains adds a shadowy interest on sunny days and a warm coziness at night.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic mix of colorful modern pieces mashed up with family heirlooms and exotic travel finds. It feels like my own unique space, not a showroom floor where everything is so of the moment. The old furniture now add layers of style because the wood pieces create a depth and interest that’s all my own.

Inspiration: Travel and all of the wonderful ways it opens up your eyes to all things beautiful in the world. My home is now my oasis and as much as I love to leave, I’m now just as happy to return.

Favorite Element: The custom-colored area rug. It’s unique because Julia and I designed it together. There’s no other one in the world, it adds so much happiness to the space. I smile every time I step in.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Biggest Challenge: Parting with family furniture after promising to take care of it. Many items were reused, though, including the old trunk and armoire in the bedroom.

Proudest DIY: Removing tons of books and stacks of old papers. One thing that Julia pointed out is that there were too many little objects, no place for the eye to rest. She’s right, a few big items are way more important than lots of little things everywhere.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Biggest Indulgence: Believe it or not, the sconces in the dining/home office from Tigermoth were the biggest indulgence. They are hand-forged and we selected the shade color.

Best Advice: Hire professional help; it’s way better. Not only will you learn so much from a good pro, but you’ll feel that you’re investing in yourself and your future happiness.

What’s your best home secret? If something comes in, something goes out. As a packrat in an apartment, it’s a difficult lesson but I am a tried and true believer. That goes for clothing, books, hand-me-downs, and even gifts from friends.


Credit: Rikki Snyder


  • Living room — Benjamin Moore, OC-26
  • Bedroom — Benjamin Moore 2116-60
  • Dining/office — Farrow and Ball’s Old White
  • Wallpaper — Cole and Son Malabar


  • Sofa — Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams, Hunter (sim) actual style disc.
  • Custom Pillows — Fabric from Robert Allen: Romaria in Aquatint, My Girl in Pool and Full Scale in Azalea
  • Area Rug — Angela Adams, Flora, custom Colors
  • Floor Lamp — Rico Espinet Buster Floor Lamp
  • Basket Light — Store out of Business, Homestories in Brooklyn
  • Coffee Table — West Elm Origami
  • Curtains — Fabric by Robert Allen, Yarn Lines Natural
Credit: Rikki Snyder


  • Existing Hand-Me-Down Furniture
  • Sconces — Tigermoth Lighting UK,
  • Bubble Chandeliere — One Kings Lane 18 Bubble
Credit: Rikki Snyder


  • Bed frame — Pottery Barn
  • Sausalito Rug — One Kings Lane Xue.
  • Lighting — One Kings Lane
  • Floor Lamp — Reading Light Artimede Tolomeo
  • Shelving — String by Design Within Reach
  • Custom Curtains — Fabric by Robert Allen

Thanks Julia!

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.