A 450-Square-Foot Vintage Americana Brooklyn Studio

updated Feb 19, 2019

A 450-Square-Foot Vintage Americana Brooklyn Studio

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Name: Eva Medoff, branded content editor at Well+Good, Delaney Rohan, and Scout (the cat)
Location: Williamsburg — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 6.5 years, renting

When Eva moved into her Brooklyn studio apartment seven years ago, the space suited her needs: It’s centrally located in the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood and she has a great landlord. Despite the pros, “It didn’t feel like a real home,” Eva said. But then, three years ago Delaney moved from Washington, D.C. to live closer to Eva and to attend law school.

They have since transformed the space with clever DIYs and vintage buys. The once brown kitchen cabinets and sad bathroom are now outfitted with black and copper details. Eva’s best tip? “I swear by marrying (or co-habitating, or befriending) someone with secret carpentry skills.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century maximalist with a mix of rustic touches and vintage kitsch

Inspiration: When I first moved into the apartment by myself almost seven years ago, the majority of my furniture was IKEA (not that there’s anything wrong with that — I still think it’s clutch for finding affordable stuff), but it didn’t feel like a real home. Once Delaney moved in three years ago, though, things really started to take shape. Partly, that was out of necessity (since we now had to fit twice as much stuff into the space and needed to get creative), but it’s also because of the melding of our two styles. At this point, I’d developed an unhealthy obsession with mid-century design basically due to Instagram and other homes I saw on Apartment Therapy, and Delaney was drawn to dark woods and more masculine, traditional touches.

Put together, our general vibe began to emerge. While I love photos of minimalist, neutral-colored rooms filled with wood and stone, I realize that the spaces I’m most drawn to (thanks to Pinterest, as well) are always colorful, warm, and slightly cluttered — kind of like a library. Add in the fact that we’re low on wall space (and space in general), and that just means that we have a lot of things. We’re always collecting more (and Delaney is always bringing home things he finds on the street), and it’s a constant struggle to keep things from tipping over to too much territory. But I like to think of the apartment as a living microcosm, so it’s always changing.

Favorite Element: The kitchen is pretty much our crowning achievement. Originally, it was your basic cookie-cutter style situation — light cabinets (in a pinky, unfinished color), faux granite laminate countertops, and no drawer pulls. I had a vision one day and asked my landlord if we could paint the cabinets, and he agreed (he’s basically a dream landlord).

We painted them Benjamin Moore Soot, which Delaney sees as dark grey and I see as a very dark navy. I also added butcher block contact paper to match our dining table, and we got copper handles for all the cabinets. We did the same treatment to our “pantry,” which is a cheap Craigslist score that we attempted to pass off as a built-in.

Lastly, we added pot rails and a custom light fixture that Delaney made from copper piping from Home Depot. I shamelessly ripped off the light fixture design from one we saw on Etsy, and am here to report that yes, you can easily make cool industrial light fixtures yourself.

Biggest Challenge: For years, the bathroom was the biggest eyesore in the apartment. Like I originally thought about the kitchen, I felt there wasn’t much we could do to change it. But with a lot of elbow grease, we pulled off a “renovation” that we’re pretty proud of.

We painted the cabinets the same as the kitchen and added the same copper cabinet pulls. From there, we repainted the entire bathroom and ceiling. The walls had been pretty damaged years before when water leaked from above us, and were never truly repaired by my landlord. We peeled a lot of paint only to find that the dry wall beneath was crumbling, and had to add mesh drywall tape and layers of spackle to repair them.

Next, we painted the walls and ceiling Pratt & Lambert white semi-gloss, which is the same color as the trim and doorways in the main room. There were two reasons for this: One, we could never find out from our landlord what the bathroom color was to do touch-ups, and two, it was a yellow-y off-white color that made the space feel dirty and smaller than it was. I can’t express what a coat of fresh paint can do — it was a total upgrade.

We also replaced our standard mirrored medicine cabinet with a wooden-framed one scored off Craigslist (also a rather lengthy endeavor construction-wise, as it was built into the wall — all the way back to the cinder block). We spray painted the light fixture, ceiling fan, and outlets copper, added a copper pipe shower curtain rod, and finished with custom wood shelving built by Delaney with copper piping. The whole thing was a game-changer.

What Friends Say: Most people that enter the apartment immediately comment on how cool they think it is — which feels nice, since we’ve put a ton of work into it. The interesting thing to us is that when we come back from a week or weekend away, we both notice how welcoming and warm it is as soon as we walk through the door. It’s like seeing it with new eyes, and even though we can get tired or exasperated with living in a small space, we’re ridiculously happy to come home to it.

Biggest Embarrassment: Now that we’ve taken care of the bathroom, I wouldn’t say we’re embarrassed by anything. (Except maybe the litter box.)

Proudest DIY: The kitchen and bathroom for sure, although Delaney also built our slat coffee table, bookshelf, and shelving by the doorway, which is where we keep all of our tools.

Biggest Indulgence: We don’t have a lot of luxurious things — but we do have some nice items that are expensive to us, including our Tom Dixon whiskey decanter and copper French press (which were both gifts from my brother!) and our Parachute shower curtain, which is so soft is basically feels like a blanket.

Best Advice: Don’t be intimidated by DIY — a lot of things are easier than you think, and you won’t regret investing in some solid tools. A few things we own include an electric sander, a router for carpentry details, an electric drill from a thrift store, a Skill jigsaw, a circular saw, and a pipe cutter. We have the cheapest versions, and they get the job done.

Also: Delaney swears by hitting up your local hardware store, which is where he’s picked up tons of invaluable advice. And I swear by marrying (or co-habitating, or befriending) someone with secret carpentry skills.

Dream Sources: My brother just got a Joybird couch, and we’re pretty jealous. I love their pieces as well as Article, Schoolhouse Electric, and West Elm. We don’t actually own anything from these places — but have pulled off a decent replica with thrift store finds and DIY! One day, I’d love to have a vintage mid-century leather sofa.


Benjamin Moore — White Linen (walls)
Benjamin Moore — Soot (cabinets)
Pratt & Lambert — White Semi-Gloss (Doors, trim, and bathroom)

Vintage mid-century end table — Gotham Thrift Shop in Ridgewood, Queens
Vintage oval mirror
DIY coat rack made by Delaney
Camp sign — gift from my friends (they got it for me because it resembles our wedding invitations!)
Nadir Indoor/Outdoor Rug — Safavieh® — Target
Arrow from South Dakota
Vintage mid-century desk and chair — Craigslist
DIY bookshelf made by Delaney
Drawing by Angie Brown — gift from our friend (the artist)
Venus wood painting made by Delaney
Sazerac print — gift from Etsy (print not available anymore)
Kitchen Conversion Poster — Whimsy & Spice
Black Panthers poster — from a panel event with Black Panther speakers at Brooklyn Law School, Delaney’s alma mater

Karlstad Sofa — IKEA (Couch purchased off Craigslist in a believe now-discontinued grey herringbone fabric and reoutfitted with mid-century legs from Waddel Manufacturing
Vintage mid-century orange and yellow chairs — gift from my dad
Throw blankets from Mexico
Stockholm Cushion — IKEA
DIY mid-century coffee table — made by Delaney with table legs from Waddel Manufacturing
Mid-century sideboard/dresser (with TV on it) — Eclectic Collectables Antiques in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Rugshop Light Grey Area Rug — Amazon
Elephant Sculpture — family heirloom
Painted skull from Mexico
Stone chessboard from Mexico
ALÄNG Floor Lamp — IKEA
Vintage floor lamp — Craigslist (It was silver and we spray painted it brass)
Vintage school desk found on the street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Vintage watering can found on the street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Wooden plant stand — Junk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Vintage mid-century dresser — Craigslist
Tom Dixon Tank Decanter — Beam
Vintage globe — Flea market on Cape Cod, Masschusetts
American Buffalo Print — Animal Print Shop
“The Grand Tour” print — NASA
Queen Charlotte’s Ball by Henri Cartier-Bresson print — gift from my brother
Drawing by Angie Brown — gift from our friend (the artist)
Gold sconce — Green Village thrift shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Masks from Mexico
Carved wooden bowls (filled with rocks from Sandy Hook, New Jersey) — family heirloom

Butcher block dining table — family heirloom
Vintage barstools — The Backroom Antiques in Marlborough, Massachusetts
DIY light fixture made by Delaney with copper piping from Home Depot
Tom Dixon French Press — Beam
Vintage napkin dispenser — Antique store in Keystone, South Dakota

Vintage milkshake blender — gift from my dad
Vintage Coca Cola sign — gift from my dad
DC Fix Butcher Block Contact Paper — Amazon
Satin Copper Cabinet Hardware Wire Handle Pulls — Myknobs.com
Cabinet/pantry — Craigslist (painted in Benjamin Moore Soot to match the cabinets and outfitted in matching handles)
DIY copper pot rails made by Delaney
Horseshoe — Antique shop in Austin, Texas
Brass hammer — Paper Presentation in Flatiron, NYC (item not available online)
Mirror detached from LILLÅNGEN cabinet — IKEA
Vintage Coca Cola wall bottle opener — gift from my dad
Woodsom Magnetic Knife Strip — Amazon
Simplehuman Dish Rack — Amazon

St. Paul Leather Platform Bed — Target
Helix Mattress
Throw blanket from Mexico
Casper Pillows — Casper
DIY nightstand shelves made by Delaney
Ranamp Wall Light — IKEA
White quilt — Crate & Barrel
Vintage alarm clock — Flea market on Cape Cod, Massachusetts
American flag — Stella Dallas Living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
World Traveler Tracker Map — Landmass
Antlers — Antique shop in Austin, Texas
Dreamcatcher from Wyoming

Turkish Shower Curtain — Parachute
Satin Copper Cabinet Hardware Wire Handle Pulls — Myknobs.com
Scratch Off USA Map with National Parks — Landmass
Acadia National Park Print — Acadia National Park
Periodic Table of NYC Trash — Tableoftrash.com
DIY shelving made by Delaney
Medicine cabinet — Craigslist
DC Fix Butcher Block Contact Paper — Amazon

Hudson Lighting Edison Bulbs — Amazon (Delaney removed the standard light fixtures, spray panted the bases copper, and we added these light bulbs without a shade/cover)

Thanks, Eva and Delaney!

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