This Sunny Brooklyn Loft Features a Cool Book Storage Idea You’ve Never Seen Before

published Jan 21, 2021

This Sunny Brooklyn Loft Features a Cool Book Storage Idea You’ve Never Seen Before

published Jan 21, 2021
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Bedrooms
Square feet
900
Sq ft
900

Name: Jessica Bennett, Sam Slaughter, and Charlie the Dog
Location: South Williamsburg — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 900 square feet
Type of home: Loft
Years lived in: 6 years, renting

Author and New York Times journalist Jessica Bennett and her husband Sam Slaughter, the founder of creative agency Lighthouse Creative Group, live in an open and airy South Williamsburg loft in a building with an… interesting background. Jessica and Sam explain that it’s been a “residential building since 2004, then almost immediately went into foreclosure. We have a friend who lived here at that time; she loved it, but remembers blood splatters in the elevator and screaming fights between neighbors that had to be broken up by police. The units were subdivided into a million bedrooms, built on top of one another because of the high ceilings. Eventually, the owner of the building turned up dead — stuffed in a trash dumpster outside a Long Island gas station (!).”

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Credit: Erin Derby

Residents of their 900-square-foot rental loft since 2014, they’ve transformed their home’s industrial interior with a collection of comfy mid-century modern-inspired furniture, books, records, plants, and more than one desk. The creative couple, who were already living and working from home before the pandemic, share the loft with their furry coworker and roommate, Charlie.

Credit: Erin Derby

While the elevators might not be splattered in blood anymore (one hopes), Jessica promises that their building still has “enough debauchery to keep it interesting. Shouts to the guy on the 7th floor who stripped naked during an all-night Covid drug binge; the woman who got kicked out of the building chat during the height of Black Lives Matter protests for defending Christopher Columbus; and the thoughtful neighbor who warned us not to be alarmed if we found her life-sized fetus replica in the trash chute — it was a relic of her days working in an abortion clinic. (We love this neighbor. She also kindly organizes all the mail.)”

Credit: Erin Derby

Jessica is currently an editor at large for the New York Times, and has also written for other publications like Vogue, Time, and more. She is also the author of the books, “Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace” and “This Is 18.” Sam, along with being a content strategist, is also a writer. The couple are also in the process of renovating a house in the Joshua Tree desert, made even more difficult by not being able to travel during the pandemic.

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I guess Pinterest would call this rustic modern. Our house is some combination of antiques accumulated from various swap meets, mid-century and vintage items usually from Etsy or eBay, and basics (cb2, IKEA, etc.) mixed in.

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: The window seat/record bench, where we’ve spent a LOT of time over the past nine months gazing at the street, the bridge, the sky, the neighbors, and banging pots and pans in honor of our essential workers.

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Challenge: What we love about our place is how open it is. What we hate about our place, in a pandemic, is how open it is. We take turns doing Zooms from the bathroom.

Credit: Erin Derby

Proudest DIY: The bookshelf/wall that divides the bedroom from the living room. It’s completely useless in terms of noise or light but makes for a lovely zoom background.

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Indulgence: Not the most expensive but the most dramatic: The used Vespa Sam got Jess for her birthday, which was impounded twice in the first six months, then hotwired, stolen, and used in some sort of robbery before finally being returned with the front smashed in. It took about a year to get the parts fixed and the permits updated, and within five minutes of her first time back on it Jess was pulled over for driving in the bike lane. Today the Vespa is a very overqualified piece of apartment decor.

Credit: Erin Derby

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The sliding french doors to Jessica’s closet she’s been carrying with her from apartment to apartment for 10 years; she found them in a trash pile on the side of the road in the East Village.

Credit: Erin Derby

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Charlie would say his favorite product is his “cognitive toy,” a small plastic ball that spits out food when he bats it around the floor, reliably at about 11 p.m. each night when we are trying to go to bed and he suddenly wants to play. Please extend our apologies to the downstairs neighbors.

Credit: Erin Derby

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Tim Gunn once told Jess during an interview that the key to NYC living is that with every new item that comes into your home an old item must go. Which means Sam is constantly searching for his missing items.

Credit: Erin Derby

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Plants make everything better!

Resources

Credit: Erin Derby

PAINT & COLORS

  • Whatever the super used to paint the walls white + some leftover green borrowed from a neighbor

ENTRY

  • Pine boxes — Courtesy of Sam’s dad
  • DIY coat rack — Plywood and metal bars from Home Depot
Credit: Erin Derby

LIVING ROOM

  • Window seat/ record bench — Pete Deeble
  • Credenza, coffee table, desks — eBay
  • Record collection — Sam
  • Painting of paintbrush — Tom Slaughter (Sam’s uncle)
  • Bull skull — A flea market in Santa Fe
  • Beachwood — Carried as a carry on from Orcas Island, Washington
  • Desks — Vintage
Credit: Erin Derby

DINING ROOM

  • Railcar dining table — Crate & Barrel, circa 2008
  • Chairs — eBay
  • Stool — Brooklyn flea
Credit: Erin Derby

BEDROOM

Thanks Sam and Jess!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for clarity.