A Small Brooklyn Rental Is a Modern Mashup of Primary Colors, Cool DIYs, and Fab Furniture

published Jul 14, 2021

A Small Brooklyn Rental Is a Modern Mashup of Primary Colors, Cool DIYs, and Fab Furniture

published Jul 14, 2021
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Name: Erin Kerr and cat, Cowboy
Location: Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 750 square feet
Type of Home: One-Bedroom Apartment
Time lived in: 6 months, renting

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Freelance interior designer and Hem’s East Coast Business Developer, Erin Kerr, had been living in a studio apartment before quarantine. “After spending almost a year quarantining in my studio apartment that faced a brick wall, I knew I had to take advantage of the New York Covid deals. I had the typical big one-bedroom dream apartment wish list but with a studio-sized budget,” Erin explains. “This space checked all of the boxes, and the price was only $45 more than my studio. I had a month of overlapping leases, which was fate because a week before my move, my (not yet packed) studio’s plumbing erupted at 5 p.m. and flooded my kitchen — waterboarded roaches included. My incredible friends showed up an hour later, we rented a truck, and panic-moved me (via tote bags!) until 2 a.m.”

Though she hasn’t been renting this rental for much time, she says she’s always working on some sort of project around the apartment, so it hasn’t taken her too long to decorate. “Amy Sedaris once said that you probably won’t get your full security deposit back, so make it worth it. I might’ve taken her advice too far, but I’ve always been very DIY-oriented and this is the perfect space for me to work on new projects, work from home, experiment with color, host dinners, and grow with,” Erin writes. “There is rarely a moment where I am relaxing here; I’m always working on some project (painting the walls, changing the lights out, and a few too many DIY projects), usually with a podcast or sitcom playing in the background. I feel very lucky to have the space to incorporate the work of my furniture designer friends, and plenty of room for my ever-growing chair collection (and Cowboy’s 4 p.m. zoomies).”

Credit: Jason Rampe

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Like if a Danish grandpa and primary school teacher grandma had a grandkid who loved Memphis Milano

Inspiration: I’m obsessed with design history, so I’d have to say Anni Albers, Ray Eames, Aino Aalto, Alexander Girard, Finn Juhl, Nathalie du Pasquier, and Peter Shire, but I am currently loving the work of Kangan Arora, Tekla Severin, and Sonnhild Kestler.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Favorite Element: The south-facing windows, oversized rooms, and the linen closet sold me on the space; but my favorite changes I’ve made are the 60’ of shelving in the dining space and the abundance of color. I also adore the neighborhood, this is my third year here and it’s mostly residential with mom-and-pop shops. I’ve gone to my local hardware store so often that now the two owners tease me by yelling, “Oh no! She’s back!” when I walk in.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge has been spending just under half of my income on rent (but living alone is more than worth it!). Also many of the walls are brick and/or concrete and are a nightmare to drill through; one day I’ll wall-mount the TV.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Proudest DIY: I have DIY’d most of the apartment: I reupholstered the pink velvet and squiggle lounge chairs, made my dining table top for the Eames base, made the 2×4 plant/coffee table and some of the stools, re-grouted the bathroom floor, and painted the top row of tiles black to give it an old-Hollywood vibe. On my way to pick up tacos I found the yellow dresser on the curb, forced my 70-year-old father to carry it down the street with me and up a flight of stairs, and spent a few weeks restoring it over the summer. Six months later (to the day), I found the swan-like mirror in the exact same spot (on my way to pick up tacos!).

Biggest Indulgence: I’ve been collecting most of these pieces for years, but the tambour media cabinet, living room rug, and Matisse lithograph were the pieces I have spent the most money on. I much rather save for months and months to buy the pieces I love, than to buy an interim piece that I feel neutral about and eventually replace. Although it was free to me, the Oyyo rug in the bedroom was from a past job and is my one true love; I pined over it for years after seeing it in a shop in Helsinki.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I’ve tried to make every inch of this place mine. It’s such a great space, I want to be here for years and to make the most of it. I immediately dived in with painting, putting up shelves, and changing hardware. I think I painted the bedroom, blue wall, and bathroom within my first two weeks here. I’ve worked in furniture and art that I love, pieces from my friends and family, and luckily feel like there is still so much more to do. Maybe it’s not super unique, but it feels personal. I’m also lucky enough to have worked for several furniture companies, and have been hooked up with heavily discounted pieces — or free, like every piece of furniture in the bedroom (except for the squiggle chair!).

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I specifically purchased the shelving, living room rug, and media cabinet for this apartment, and I adore them. But my favorite pieces are the ones made by my friends, like the Wiggle Mirror by Alisa Wronski, Little Man Lamp by Superlamp Studio, and leather Gradual Chair by Ben Kicic. One of my favorite things about working in the New York furniture world is how connected everyone is and, for better or worse, how the connections are strengthened through Instagram, especially during lockdown.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Oh, I absolutely do not know and would love any and all advice. I’m very scatterbrained and aesthetic-driven so behind the closet doors is a lot of chaos. My only real advice is color coordinating books, but not in a gradient, and if you’re putting two colors next to each other (like blue and pink), move one pink book into the blue book to prevent it from looking overdone. I don’t know how people can organize alphabetically; I only remember what the covers and spines of books look like.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t be afraid to paint a rental; you can always paint it white when you move out! Buy what you love and the correct size rug, and a color palette feels more curated.


Credit: Jason Rampe


  • Bedroom — Pratt & Lambert “Mariner”
  • Cobalt door trim — Behr “Beacon Blue”
  • Yellow Room — Pratt & Lambert “Snug Yellow”
  • Bathroom — Pratt & Lambert “Pink Peony”


Credit: Jason Rampe


Credit: Jason Rampe


Credit: Jason Rampe


  • Shelving — IKEA
  • Rug — IKEA
  • Blue Dutch Oven — Great Jones
  • Yellow Kobenstyle Pot — Dansk, vintage
  • Crock — IKEA
  • Wire Mesh Bowl — MoMA Design Store
  • Checker Oven Mitt — made by my mom
Credit: Jason Rampe


  • Wood Bed Frame — Tuft & Needle
  • Östra Rug — Oyyo
  • Vintage Bassett Dresser — street find
  • Vintage Tall Boy — Stolen from my mom
  • Yellow Pillow — DusenDusen, discontinued
  • Flower Pillow — Marimekko
  • Matisse Pillow — made by my mom
  • Squiggle Lounge Chair — Vintage, thrifted, reupholstered in DusenDusen “arc”
  • Swan Mirror —  street find
  • Floor Length Mirror — IKEA
  • Swan Lamp — Vintage, thrifted
  • George Nelson Clock — Vitra
  • Limited Edition Panton Glow — Vitra
    Flushmount — IKEA
  • Vintage Jean Tinguely x Louisiana Museum Poster — eBay
  • E60 “Walnut” Stools — Artek
  • Bedding — Amazon
Credit: AT Video


  • Rug — Cold Picnic
  • Towels — DusenDusen
  • Playboy Covers — Vintage, eBay

Thanks Erin!

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