A Minimal, Modern Brooklyn Apartment in a Former Pencil Factory

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Name: Esteban Montes & Carolina Cabal
Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years

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What happens when two designers move in together, and discover unexpected bits of history in their lovely, modern Brooklyn condo? As Esteban and Carolina’s stylish Brooklyn home proves: something very special.

While remodeling their apartment Esteban and Carolina discovered a little bit of history hiding in the walls: huge, rustic beams from their Brooklyn building’s past as a pencil factory. Exposing the beams gives their space an industrial-modern flair, which they’ve complemented with rustic built-in shelving and simple, modern furniture.

The couple moved from a much smaller apartment three years ago, and has been very careful about selecting pieces to fill their new space. Maybe it’s this that accounts for the feeling of spaciousness in their home, so unusual for a NYC apartment. What makes the cut? Pieces that remind them of friends, and anything that makes them happy.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Industrial modern with clean lines and a minimal approach.

Inspiration: We are lucky to live in Brooklyn because we can take advantage of the local craftsmen and shops. We love our neighborhood spots Wolves Within and Homecoming.

Favorite Element: Uncovering the past inside the walls of our historic pencil factory building.

Biggest Challenge: Going from a small studio to a two-bedroom meant we had to fill up the space. For the first year it felt like we hadn’t unpacked because we had very little stuff.

What Friends Say: This place feels like a real home.

Biggest Embarrassment: Despite having good closet space we seem to always find ourselves jamming so much stuff into them.

Proudest DIY: Building the custom bookshelves was a great moment because it complemented the wood beam and set a clear tone for the whole space.

Biggest Indulgence: Collecting art. We have pieces from different photographers, friends and pieces we’ve found here and there. When something speaks to us there is no holding us back.

Best Advice: Work with your own sense of self and don’t follow trends. Be adventurous and surround yourself with things that make you happy and remind you of good times and people you love.

Further Inspiration: We collect beautiful ideas that we find online.

The things he finds… Mucho Design
The things she finds… Style Notes


(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Vintage entrance cabinet – Adaptations
  • Rustic Acacia Console – West Elm
  • Boombox Project Print – Lyle Owerko
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Hess Sofas – Room and Board
  • Crescendo coffee table – Ligne Roset
  • Solstice Floor Lamp – Ample Furniture
  • Eames Lounge Chair Replica – Apartment Therapy Classifieds
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Benchwright Dining Table & Bench (spruce finish) – Pottery Barn
  • Wish chair – Organic Modernism
  • Lite Light pendant lighting – TRNK
  • Metropolis Poster (MOMA) – Boris Bilinsky’s
  • Blue tooth action speakers – Marshall
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Kensington barn wood stool – Arhaus
  • French door refrigerator – LG
  • Titan 1 Pendant Lamp – Design Within Reach
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Storage Bed – West Elm
  • Fabric – BDDW
  • Night stand tables & mirror (local to Brooklyn) – From The Source
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Uplift bathroom mirror – Robern
  • (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


  • Desk (local to Brooklyn) – From The Source
  • Eden Convertible Sleeper Sofas – Room and Board
  • Task lamp – Restoration Hardware
  • Commissioned photographic prints – Nick D’Emilio
  • West Rustic bookshelves – West Elm
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    Thanks, Esteban and Carolina!