Smart Renovations Transform This Small Brooklyn Apartment into a Functional (and Beautiful) Home
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Name: Linda Cava
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 525 square feet
Years Lived In: Almost 2 years, owned
Designer Linda Cava’s life and career has taken a few turns over the years. Her love of interior design became a seven-year long career in architecture before coming back to a focus on interior decor. It was a love of historic houses and a desire for a slower pace of life that led her to living in Savannah, Georgia for a year and a half. Now back in NYC for two years, she combined all her loves — design, history, sleek style and Southern quirk — in this small Brooklyn home.
“I didn’t think I’d be back to New York, but jobs, family and friends were all pulling me back. So after a year and a half of living in Savannah, I moved back. . . .”
Interior design was Linda Cava’s first love, and her first bachelor’s degree. But instead of going for a master’s, her career took a slight turn, and she got her bachelor’s in architecture instead. “I thought that having an architectural degree would give me the ability to move walls within my designs and not be limited to designing only within existing spaces. The architecture program changed me, and I pretty much left the notion of being an interior designer behind me.” Well, for a little while anyway. “Although I did residential architecture for the last seven years of being employed, my craving for design and decor was growing more and more and architecture was just not fulfilling enough anymore.” Linda made a switch again, this time updating her location, too.
“I tried to fulfill another dream of mine, which was to purchase and renovate my own house outside of the hustle and bustle lifestyle of NYC. I bought a cottage-style bungalow house with lots of potential in Savannah, Georgia (I’d had my eye on Savannah for years because a good friend of mine moved to Atlanta in 2005). I’d always loved historic houses and neighborhoods and wanted to be in warm weather that was somewhat close to the ocean.
I didn’t think I’d be back to New York, but jobs, family and friends were all pulling me back. So after a year and a half of living in Savannah, I moved back. It was a tough decision because I really love Savannah.”
Her Brooklyn home has a sophisticated and sleek simplicity to it after the makeover, and it’s also steeped in a little Southern charm — her time in Savannah had a huge impact on her as a designer. And one person in particular:
“I met a wonderful older woman who was my neighbor three houses down. Her name is Sonja and she is a 6th generation Savannian. We clicked instantly because of our love for design and other similar interests. Before I met Sonja, I would have defined my style as modern/minimalist. After sharing all of her wisdom and many visits to antique stores together, I felt like I graduated from the design school of Sonja. Her flair for style has been such a great inspiration to me and it has broadened my design view immensely. Sonja had never been a designer by trade but she has redecorated over 15 of her own homes and helped start 26 inns in the downtown Historic District when she had her own reservation service business. She is a remarkable woman and I affectionately refer to her now as my godmother; we still keep in touch by phone every week.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Modern-Eclectic
Inspiration: I keep up with what’s going on in design; I have magazine subscriptions and there are lots of online design sites that I frequent. I ultimately chose what makes sense for me.
Favorite Element: I’m in love with the arch and the pre-war character of the space.
Biggest Challenge: A small space can look cluttered very quickly, so stepping back and editing is important. I’ve had to give away things because they didn’t work and other things are stored away in the closets (for my next bigger home).
What Friends Say: Overall good feedback with extra compliments on the kitchen. No comments about the pink walls — I guess it’s not for everyone.
Biggest Embarrassment: 1. I still haven’t gotten around to renovating the bathroom yet.
2. I’m new at having house plants. I’m on my 2nd round of plants in the hanging planters because the previous did not survive. I even tried artificial plants at first but they looked horrible.
Proudest DIY: The office desk I made.
Biggest Indulgence: I like to buy art and design books. I always want more!
Best Advice: Live in the space for a little while before making design decisions. Don’t worry about fitting into a design style; choose what you like.
Dream Sources: There are so many things I want from ABC Home and Design Within Reach — and too many others stores to list. One day I want to have a canopy bed, an Eames office chair, authentic Persian rugs, a Montauk sofa, awesome lights, a great art collection, a lot more books- again, too many things to list.
PAINT & COLORS
Foyer — Benjamin Moore, Ballet Slipper
Foyer Arch — Benjamin Moore, Soot
Living Area and Kitchen — Benjamin Moore, White Dove
Kitchen Cabinets — Benjamin Moore, Onyx
Trim throughout — Benjamin Moore, Decorators White
Ceiling Light — Nuevo Helia Pendant in Copper (available here)
Rug — West Elm, Distressed Arabesque in Black
Dresser — Antique Store in Savannah (Two Women and a Warehouse)
Dropleaf Table — Target (I plan on changing out the base with a custom metal from Etsy)
Stools — Industry West, Abbatoir Stool
Low Bookshelf — garage sale
Art (black and white) — I painted it
Mirror — from my godmother
Pink Vase — CB2
Wooden Bowl — from my godmother
Black Candy Holder (I use it for candy) — Antique Store in Savannah
Black Vase and bowl — Homegoods
Black Oriental Planter — from my mother
Rug — West Elm, Distressed Rococo in Horseradish
Sofa — West Elm, York in Shadow fabric (no longer available, Henry similar)
Bookshelves — CB2, Helix Acacia
Glass Coffee Table — Wayfair
Chairs — Eero Saarinen Tulip armchair (reproduction; similar available from Wayfair)
Side table — West Elm, Hex Side Table
Lamp — Robert Abbey, Olinda
Sconces — George Kovacs, Swing Arm Wall Sconce
Baskets — Pier One
Horse sculpture — from my godmother
Art above sofa — Poolside Glamour by Slim Aarons
Art above chairs — Painted for me by a friend (portrait of my dog that passed away- my current dog in the living room photo is named Spike)
Art above shelves on right side (stripes) — I made it in an art class in college
Green Marble Tray — Homegoods
Wood Desk — Oak Butcher Block from Ikea (I made this with 2 boards) –
Metal Desk and File Cabinets — CB2, Go-Cart and TPS in Carbon
Office Chair — Alera Neratoli
Wall Clock — Fornasetti by Stilnovo
Art Driftwood — I made that in an art class in college
Art — Miro, Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman (reproduction)- antique store in Savannah
Art — Photo of Guggenheim
Art — Photo of Tadao Ando building- taken from a page of his book that I own
Art — Rabbi- yard sale
Sea Horse Bookends — garage sale
Concrete Lamps — Urban Outfitters (similar)
Cabinets — Kraftmaid flat front unpainted. I painted them Benjamin Moore Onyx.
Countertop — Quartzmasters, Nero Marquina from SMC Stone
Tile — Cancos, Urban, Monaco
Backsplash Tile — Tile Bar, Lancaster 3×12 Bianco Ceramic Tile
Handles — Rejuvenation, Larkin in Chrome
Shelf Brackets — Blue Stone Shelves, Dolle Belt Metal Bracket in Stainless
Ceiling Light — Ai Lati, Sferis
Stove — Blomberg, SS
Refrigerator — Summit, SS
Sink — Kraus, Black Onyx
Faucet — Vigo Single Handle, SS
Stool — Etsy, Eastabrooks Tree Works (custom)
Hanging Planters — Scheurich from Lowes UWS
Plates — Crate & Barrel, Essential Collection