A Couple's Closet-Less (But Clutter-Free) Brooklyn Home

A Couple's Closet-Less (But Clutter-Free) Brooklyn Home

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Melanie Rieders
Feb 21, 2018

Name: Rachel Tepper Paley and her husband, Jon Paley
Location: Prospect Heights — Brooklyn, NY
Size: 1,050 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Rachel and Jon moved into their Prospect Heights, Brooklyn condo after years of renting in NYC. During their search, they were able to find a lovely and spacious 1,050-square-foot place with one tiny catch: It had NO closets. Like none.

Take a video tour of Rachel & Jon's apartment:

Sure, there's a lot of space (by New York standards), but with no built-in closets, this apartment wasn't going to be functional unless the couple got creative. Rachel and Jon made it their mission to DIY as much storage as they could to make up for the no-closet conundrum. With smart storage additions like installing wall-to-wall shelving, using a kitchen pegboard, incorporating under-bed storage, and adding lots and lots of hooks, the two created a space that is both functional and beautiful!

Rachel, a food and travel journalist, and Jon, a filmmaker and advertising associate creative director, wanted a comfortable space with room for hosting and cooking. They've done it. And you'll want to sift through their storage solutions to find some for your own home!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Restrained color bomb! Also, cozy palace.

Inspiration: So many things: Our families. Our travels. Our childhoods. Julia Child. The interior design bloggers Emily Henderson and Jenny Komenda. The dozens of beautiful cookbooks I can't bear to get rid of. Every single article on Apartment Therapy. Mid-century modern. Modern modern. I'm constantly moving things around and tweaking this or that and thinking about how I can squeeze just one little extra drop of joy out of this home we love so much.

Favorite Element: Hard to say! Probably our giant windows. Our last apartment was a dark, narrow railroad-style place with a living room smack dab in the middle, so it got approximately zero light. We were so used to sitting around in darkness! Now it's bright all day long. Unexpected bonus: My food photographs are much better.

Biggest Challenge: There isn't a single closet in our entire apartment. We had to hack in a lot of storage: We opted for storage beds, big and tall armoires, shelves in every room, and lots of wall hooks. We also bought a giant vintage credenza from Repop in Williamsburg, which helps extend our kitchen storage.

What Friends Say: It feels warm and welcoming. We host a lot. By the year's end, we'll have hosted 24 overnight guests, plus we have dinner parties and drop-in guests all the time. It's really important to us that our friends and family feel comfortable here. To be corny, it's people that make a house (er, condo) a home. It doesn't hurt that this is our first apartment with a guest room; we're getting good mileage out of it.

Biggest Embarrassment: We've let so many things stay broken for so long! The first week we moved in, we realized that the bathtub spurted out rusty water, the refrigerator's built-in ice maker didn't dispense ice, and there's a giant (but cosmetic) crack in the guest room window. It was a real welcome-to-home-ownership moment. Of all of those things, we have fixed... one. We should probably do something about that.

Proudest DIY: I have two: 1) The removable wallpaper in the bathroom. I'd had my eye on a classic Martinique banana leaf design that was way too expensive, but I found a cheaper, removable version on Etsy. My husband and I (well, mostly my husband) put it up over the course of four weekends. It was incredibly stressful—installing it was way more work than we bargained for—but we love the result. 2) The robin egg blue peg board in the kitchen that my step-father-in-law painted and installed it for us. It's inspired by the one in Julia Child's kitchen, and my husband and I have had a version in it in every apartment we've shared. I love having all my pots and pans out on display—it makes my kitchen feel alive! Plus peg board baskets equal instant makeshift pantry.

Biggest Indulgence: The six-and-a-half-foot-long wooden credenza we bought at Repop. It spans the length of our couch and holds SO much stuff: All my big ceramic platters, my blender, food processor, big coffee maker, and Instant Pot. It has these beautiful, elegant curves and a moody, dark wood that contrasts so wonderfully with our light wood floors. It set us back $1,200, which seemed like a lot at the time, but I know it's actually a steal compared to what you'd pay for something of this size at West Elm or Crate & Barrel.

Best Advice: Decorate for how you live, not for how it might look on Instagram. That means opting for the comfy couch you can sink into instead of the starchy velvet one in a design magazine. I also suggest sticking to a neutral couch color: When you get bored with the look in a few years, you can switch up the pillows for a dramatic difference without having to buy a whole new sofa. Also, don't be afraid to take risks. You can always change things if you don't like them! And one last thing: No one ever regretted having too much storage.

Dream Sources: Repop, Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., West Elm, CB2, Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Rugs Direct, Room & Board

Resources:

ENTRY
Coat Rack — CB2
Ketubah — Artwork by Keara McGraw, "Cairo" burl wood frame by Framebridge

LIVING ROOM
Credenza—Repop
Orson Couch—Crate & Barrel
Shibori pillow—Pottery Barn
Stockholm TV stand—Ikea
Go-Cart Carbon Rolling Desk—CB2
Terreno Leather chair and ottoman—CB2

DINING ROOM
Parker Expandable Dining Table—West Elm
Anzio Rug in Denim — Rugs Direct (Out of stock, but it's also at Carpet Mart)
White Tabouret Stacking Chairs—Overstock.com
Art: From left to right, custom artwork by Keara McGraw inspired by our vacations; a snowy sunset scene painted by my grandfather; an original artwork by our friend Emma Fineman; a vintage mirror; vegetable print; a photograph of my grandparents goofing around in the Catskills in the late 1940s; original artwork by my sister-in-law; a framed quote by Werner Herzog; a stylized print of Baltimore's Camden Yards from City Prints; a photography of my husband's grandmother at 16 throwing a snowball.

KITCHEN
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer in Majestic Yellow—KitchenAid
Mauviel Copper Cookware—Sur La Table

BEDROOM 1
Nash Metal Wood Storage Bed—West Elm
Armoires—IKEA (Don't see them on the site anymore)
Rubbermaid 8 in. x 48 in. White Laminate Decorative Shelf with Knape & Vogt Brass-Look Bracket—Home Depot (Here, here, and here)
Eyeball Sconce in Bronze—Urban Outfitters
Natural Basket Weave Jute Rug—World Market
Woven Cotton Kilim Orissa Area Rug—World Market

BEDROOM 2
Malm Storage Bed—IKEA
Armoire—IKEA (Don't see them on the site anymore)
Rubbermaid 8 in. x 48 in. White Laminate Decorative Shelf with Knape & Vogt Brass-Look Bracket—Home Depot (Here, here, and here)
Eyeball Sconce in Bronze—Urban Outfitters
Rug—Flying Tiger

BATHROOM
Removable Banana Leaf Wallpaper—Etsy
Plum & Bow Connected Stripe Rag Rug in black
(I bought three and stitched them together)—Urban Outfitters

Thanks, Rachel and Jon!


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