A Cozy, Classic & Minimal Brooklyn Brownstone

published Feb 9, 2016
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Name: Adam and Rachel Jones and their dog, Fraiser
Location: Clinton Hill — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented

Rachel is a designer and Adam specializes in photography and video production, and new inspirations and ideas are always emerging in both their work and home life. Since they moved into this space a few years ago, the process of settling in has been one of constant evolution and change. They’ve pared down unnecessary items that they carried with them from one apartment to the next over the past decade—and kept only what is most cherished and practical.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Nestled in the quiet tree-lined streets of Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, this classic brownstone apartment comes with the charm of exposed brick, original hardwood floors, and worn finishes. Keeping in line with the apartment’s rustic foundations, Rachel and Adam have personalized the decor with post-modern and minimalistic touches. The bedroom is bright and airy—plants thrive in the abundance of natural light—while the living and dining rooms have a more moody atmosphere created by the rich tones of dark wood lining the windows.

The tiny kitchen lies in the middle of the apartment on a two-step elevated level separating the living and dining rooms from the bedroom and bathroom. Rachel explained that the L-shape of their living and dining area took some getting used to, but they’ve found a solution that works depending on the function. The couple loves to host friends for dinner parties, and fitting everyone around the table just requires moving the sofa deeper into the living room and pulling out the table. The built-in window bench is not only a beautiful detail of the apartment but also provides seating without taking up precious floor space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, warm and minimal, with an eye toward Mid-century modern.

Favorite Element: I [Rachel] love our seating bench built into our wall. It’s an unusual feature and makes me feel like I have a perch from which to watch the goings-on of the street.

Biggest Challenge: The layout of our living room is L-shaped and rather narrow. Given that we’ve packed both a dining room table and couch into this area, we’ve had to adopt a modular use of the space: when we’re watching TV, we move the couch back against the table and when we have friends over for dinner, we slide it away from the table to allow for more room. It’s less than conventional to be sliding your furniture back and forth, but it works for us.

What Friends Say: It’s cozy and intimate. Our space is filled with bits and pieces from our travels and weekend haunts, so it captures where we’ve been and what we’re currently into.

Biggest Embarrassment: I decided rather spontaneously to replicate the faded white brick look in our living room by painting over the brick in the back bedroom so as to open up the space. I went ahead and painted the entire wall of brick white before realizing the effect I was trying to achieve required white-washing the wall! Once I realized the paint was coming on thicker than planned, I had this awful sinking feel. Adam then had to spend 6 hours stripping the paint off the wall using a rag and paint stripper.

Proudest DIY: We’re not the biggest DIY people, but I am glad that we finally made the decision to paint the outside of our cast-iron bathtub, which was previously a dull yellow. It took two coats to achieve the right color, but it instantly made the room look more polished and less out-of-date.

Biggest Indulgence: Flowers. Adam is a flower guy and likes to pop by our local florist Saffron in Fort Greene to pick up an arrangement on the weekends. The store is tucked away behind the train station, but it’s definitely worth a visit! Her arrangements are delicate and always changing based on what’s in-season. She also features jewelry and small decor items from local designers.

Best Advice: Figure out what you can live without. The longer I live in NYC, the more claustrophobic I feel by the accumulation of “stuff” around me. I’m no Marie Kondo evangelist, but I’ve realized that I need open space and white walls to feel like I have room to breath and relax, especially after a day of commuting and working in a shared workspace. That is tough to achieve in a small apartment, but we’ve managed to keep our belongings at bay by always editing our shelves and closets, either gifting or donating a couple things away every season, and ruthlessly making use of our storage space in the basement.

Dream Sources: I drool every time I stop by Holler & Squall in Brooklyn Heights—especially at the sight of a chubby leather armchair. In the meantime (those chairs aren’t cheap!), I’ll be dreaming of draping my bed with In Bed linens (on the wish list) and layering antique rugs from One Kings Lane or a local favorite, Sharktooth.



  • Walls: landlord white


  • Wreath: Food52
  • Antique bar table: Brooklyn Flea Market
  • Antique shoe shelf: Brooklyn Flea Market
  • Marble shelf lamps: CB2
  • Film reel: antique store in Montana

    • Couch: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
    • Yellow armchair: Brooklyn Flea Market
    • Wooden stool: the side of the street
    • Eames molded plastic chair: Herman Miller
    • Sheepskin throw: DWR
    • Woven basket: local Fort Greene home goods store Feliz
    • Wooden crates: Brooklyn Flea Market
    • TV shelf: from the now-defunct Moon River Chattel
    • Antique kilim pillows: Christian Rathbone at the Brooklyn Flea
    • Lantern: antique market in Madrid, Spain
    • Cowhide rug: IKEA


  • Chairs: Brooklyn Flea Market
  • Planter: Glasswing in Seattle
  • Dresser: Brooklyn Flea Market
  • Pendant lamp: Tom Dixon for ABC Carpet & Home
  • Antique mirror: antique market in Madrid, Spain
  • Artwork: Vi Luong

  • Spice rack: antique market in Madrid, Spain
  • Shelf: Etsy
  • Bird cage: antique market in Madrid, Spain
  • Wire display rack: from the now-defunct Moon River Chattel
  • Coat hanger: antique market in Madrid, Spain

  • Bed: CB2
  • Wooden crates: Brooklyn Flea Market
  • Hanging planters: Glasswing in Seattle
  • Bedside lamp: Green Village in Bushwick
  • Dresser: Furnish Green
  • Eames molded plastic chair: Herman Miller
  • Antique rug: One Kings Lane
  • Wall mirror: Junk in Williamsburg
  • Sheets: Muji

  • Floor length mirror: West Elm
  • Bath mat: Spartan
  • Wall shelf: Etsy
  • Wire basket: Crate & Barrel
  • Magazine rack: Save On Crafts
  • Antique shaving mirror: Etsy
  • Planters: Su’juk
  • Artwork: Meredith Hoffheins


    • Plants: Botanica Garden Center
  • (Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)
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    The bedroom gets flooded with light throughout the midday, creating a bright and airy feel. (Image credit: Value City Furniture)

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    Thanks, Rachel & Adam!