Isobel's Inspiring Apartment + Work Space

Isobel's Inspiring Apartment + Work Space

Kate Legere
Sep 6, 2012

Name: Isobel Schofield, Owner/Creative Director at Bryr + her dog Billie
Location: Cobble Hill – Brooklyn, New York
Size: 750 square feet
Years lived in: 17 months – rented

On a treelined street in Brooklyn, you'll find Isobel's cozy garden level apartment, filled with art and inspiration. When we first featured her apartment in our annual Small Cool Contest, Isobel was working as a fashion designer for a large retail company. She has since left her job, started her own clog company, and given her home studio a makeover.

When I met Isobel at her apartment, she greeted me and mentioned that she had been struggling to remove a water filled air conditioner from her front window. I dropped my things and helped her move the unit to the backyard. We had a good laugh, and I instantly felt comfortable and at ease in her apartment. Her walls are filled with art she has collected over the years from friends, family, school friends, and flea markets, and she was quick to share the stories behind the pieces. Her shelves hold treasures, including framed photo booth photos of her grandparents from the 1920s (who knew photo booths have been around that long!?) and handmade glass lanterns that get used when she or many of her friends throw parties. Hanging above her stove is a simple but genius pot and pan rack her mom helped to build; while it only cost dollars to make, it has survived many years and several apartments.

Isobel painted several walls in her kitchen, hallway, and studio with black chalkboard paint, which provides a backdrop for more creativity. In the back of her apartment is her newly made over studio. It was once used for storage, but Isobel recently installed shelves and furnished it to create a work space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Scandinavian Modern meets Japanese Wabi Sabi with a bit of English quirkiness thrown in.

Inspiration: My mum is an inspiration in not being afraid to take on big projects yourself. When we moved to America my parents bought a very raw and run-down 1890's mansion in downtown St. Louis. Think Tom Hanks in Money Trap. She's been working on it for 20 years now, and she never seems afraid to take on massive projects, from redoing electrics, to painting ceiling frescoes, to gutting the kitchen. She's an old school DIYer and the house is really beautiful because of it.

Favorite Element: I fell in love with the apartment because of the open, easy layout. I love to cook for friends and so it's really nice that the kitchen opens up to the living room. Plus, the living room also opens up for impromptu dance parties if everyone has had enough wine.

Biggest Challenge: The studio is a very small room and I wanted space to work for different purposes (on craft projects, on the computer, on my sewing machines, and sketching). The breakthrough came when I realized I should put the big desk perpendicular to the wall. It is counterintuitive, but it gave me room to add little fold-up desks on either side and a sewing desk under the window. It also means I get to sit facing the garden.

What Friends Say: "What's for dinner?"

Biggest Embarrassment: First time I put up the shelves in the studio, they came crashing down in the middle of the night. Oh, and listing where I got everything for this questionnaire and realizing that most of my possessions came out of a box marked 'IKEA'.

Proudest DIY: Shelves, shelves, and more shelves.

Biggest Indulgence: The towel dryer. It only cost about $100, but it's so luxurious to have warm towels in the morning.

Best Advice: I read the Apartment Therapy book and really took it to heart, so before I moved in, I spent a week cleaning, scrubbing, spackling, installing lights and repainting the place. It cost about $500, but because I got a great deal on the place it seemed like a smart investment.

Dream Sources: Brimfield Antique Show, Long Beach Antique Market, Heath Ceramics, Lotta Jansdotter, Margaret Howell Home, and ABC Carpet & Home

Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS (All Benjamin Moore)

    • Living room: walls are Calm and ceiling is Decorator's White
    • Kitchen: Barren Plain and Chalkboard
    • Entry way: Decorator's White and Chalkboard
    • Bedroom: one wall Van Courtland Blue and the rest Decorator's White
    • Studio: Decorator's White and Chalkboard with pops of Moss Green


    • Faux Eames Chair: Craigslist
    • Orange Bookcase: West Elm
    • End tables and coffee table: thrift stores
    Cabinet: IKEA
    • Willow Sofa in spruce: Crate & Barrel
    • Wall Shelves: DIY using Home Depot brackets and lumber
    • Paper cut lamp: ABC Carpet & Home
    • Original art: Amy Elkins, Camilla Schofield, Thomas Bangsted, my great-grandmother Edith Francis, Jen Behr, Hazel Mandujano, Jacob Rhodes, and myself
    • Van Meer portrait and antlers: Long Beach Flea Market
    • Painting of my dog Billie: Rebecca Campbell
    • Vintage orange lamp: Rose Bowl Flea Market
    Moroccan lanterns: made with old pickle jars and metalic tissue paper
    Recycled denim rug: West Elm
    • Various Ceramics: Heath Ceramics, Laura McKibbon, and some stuff I made myself





Thanks, Isobel!

(Images: Kate Legere)

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