A Beautiful Brooklyn Home Designed on a Tight Budget

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Beautiful Brooklyn Home Designed on a Tight Budget

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Marcus, Alicia and Phoenix Brandon
Location: Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

First of all, this beautiful apartment has a private elevator. Call in, beam up, doors open and you’re there. It’s a wildly easier ride than a fifth-floor brownstone walk-up and definitely one of Marcus and Alicia’s favorite aspects of their home. But don’t let the personal elevator fool you into thinking this couple and their young son live in an expensively decorated home. Marcus and Alicia furnished their whole apartment for under $4000.

They had to be vigilant about their spending and decorating budget when they moved in, especially since (at that time) Phoenix was on the way. They didn’t spend more than $400 on any one thing in the apartment. In total, they didn’t spend more than $4000 on the whole place. That’s pretty incredible! And they’re really proud of it.

They attribute their savings to shopping at thrift stores, eBay, Salvation Army, and Craigslist. Basically any place that sells gently used furniture. Then, there’s the good, ol’ make-do attitude; they’ve come up with clever ways to store stuff, divide the space and more. Their place looks like a million bucks, but without the hefty price tag.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: “Scandinavian mid-century modern with California vibes.”

Inspiration: It sounds like a cliché, but I really find inspiration anywhere – New York City alone is such a creative melting pot of people, styles and cultures. I love walking around the city when it’s dark and getting a glimpse into people’s lives through their windows (in a very non-creepy way!). New Yorkers express themselves in so many different and interesting ways — as I’m sure you can see from looking at the house tours here on Apartment Therapy. Aside from real life inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram are also my go-to resources to start any design project.

Favorite Element: In the apartment, definitely our private elevator and the wrap-around balcony. In terms of interiors, our dining table / kitchen island combination.

Biggest Challenge: Finding storage solutions as there’s limited wall space.

What Friends Say: “Wow, this looks like out of a magazine!” (and that usually makes my day – who am I kidding, my week!)

Biggest Embarrassment: We don’t have a coat closet — or should I say we don’t have an empty coat closet — so our guests currently have to hang up their coats on our dining chairs on put them on our bed.

Proudest DIY: Our Ikea-hack TV cabinet

Biggest Indulgence: We don’t have anything that costs more than $400 in our apartment, which is something that we’re really proud of. We buy most of our things used (craigslist, Salvation Army, etc.) so our place looks like a million bucks but we didn’t spend more than $4,000 on all of our furniture combined!

Best Advice: If you live in a major city, shop at Craigstlist, eBay and your local thrift stores just like you would shop at your favorite design store. You’d be surprised by how many items on your wish list you can find used.

Dream Sources: Design Within Reach, ABC Carpet & Home, Hay, By Lassen.


Note: Nearly everything below was found gently used, but Alicia provided the links to the products online in case you’d like to purchase it new!

BILLY Bookcase – IKEA

KARLSTAD Sleeper Sofa — IKEA (no longer available)
Era Rectangular Glass Coffee Table — Crate & Barrel
Bertoia Papasan Chair by C2A DesignsWayfair
Cushions — H&M (no longer available)
Marrakesh Shag Rug — Rugs USA
TV Stand — DIY (mix of BESTA cabinets from IKEA and plywood)
Bar Cart – Salvation Army

Blox 35×63 dining table — CB2
Dining Chairs — Overstock
‘Ghost’ Bar Stools — similar here

Bed – Salvation Army
Nightstands – Target (no longer available)
Industrial Lamps – West Elm (no longer available)
Open Shelf – IKEA (no longer available)
PAX Closet – IKEA

Molger Open Storage — IKEA

Patchwork Dresser — West Elm (no longer available)
POANG Rocking Chair — IKEA
ALSEDA Stool (2x) — IKEA
Side Table — Target
Floor Lamp — Target
Cow Hide – Craigslist
Cushions – H&M, Primark

Thanks, Alicia, Marcus and Phoenix!

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