Michael, Kerri & Nora's Alternative Family Home in Brooklyn

Michael, Kerri & Nora's Alternative Family Home in Brooklyn

Nancy Mitchell
Jun 9, 2015
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Name: Michael Bewley, Kerri Young and Nora Young
Location: Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years

From the moment when they greeted us at the front door with mimosas, I knew that Michael, Kerri and Nora's house tour was going to be a little bit different. The best thing about their apartment isn't the decor, although that is pretty great too. The best thing about their place is that it's truly a home, a place where meals are cooked and friends are entertained and shows are watched, a place where three friends have come together to create a kind of alternative family.

The apartment itself was a lucky Craigslist find. At 950 square feet, it's quite spacious for New York, which gives these three roommates plenty of space for entertaining, which they do often. The heart of their home is the big orange couch which dominates the living room. After they found it, all the other elements in the room came together around it. It's a perfect spot for lounging or watching television, with room enough for a whole crew of friends.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our style is that of any family home, that is to say a combination of styles. Everyone has contributed pieces and parts. Mainly we just like to be comfortable, so we have done our best to create the shared spaces to reflect this.

Inspiration: Trying to create a space that people want to be in, most importantly ourselves. We are a mixed living home lucky enough to have the space so that we don’t have to live in our rooms. The goal has been to design and decorate a shared space that we all feel comfortable and at home in.

Favorite Element: The Big, Orange Couch (BOC). When Nora found that couch it became the inspiration for making the first floor the social space it has become. It really was the starting point.

Also, the wallpaper in the office. Kerri picked it out and Michael put it up as part of the girls' birthday present this year.

Biggest Challenge: Michael - Keeping the house clean.

Nora - Living with Michael’s plants, mostly the large tree. I like it more now after it died and lost all its leaves. I don't like plants inside.

Kerri - Michael. (haha)

What Friends Say: “What do you mean ‘The second floor?!’ ”

“Where did you get this couch?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The Large IKEA Cabinet at the base of the stairs. It’s kind of busted up and falling apart after its trip down the stairs. It’s great to have because it holds everything, but it looks just like an IKEA cabinet that got moved one too many times (by which we mean once).

Also, that our house isn’t haunted. All the coolest houses are haunted.

Proudest DIY: Michael - Whichever one is the latest.

Nora - Turning the dead tree into a piece of art and a room divider. In addition to the crystals and birds I decorate it with, seasonally I make paper flowers to put in it. At Christmas time I make sparkly poinsettia-esque ones. There is something about this dead tree that inspires me.

Kerri - The kitchen island. (Michael did it but can that count for mine?)

Biggest Indulgence: Michael - The hidden tunnels that I have built into the entire house. All the coolest houses have secret tunnels. (Tunnels not photographed).

Nora - The Hayworth Bench in the living room. The couch was something we needed, but the bench was something I always wanted just cause I thought it was pretty. It actually gets a lot of use and helps break up the space between the living room and kitchen.

Or, my duvet cover from Anthropologie. I got it after a bad breakup years ago, where I left everything from my old house behind. It cost a lot of money but I figured if the bed was all I had left I should make it perfect. So maybe not so much an indulgence as a part of therapy.

Kerri - Champagne! (Haha)

Best Advice: When it comes to affecting the space you are living in, do it now. The sooner you paint it, move it, build it, etc. the longer you get to enjoy it while you are in the space.

Dream Sources: Once David Hasselhoff came to Michael in a dream and said, “Get yourself some curtains, the neighbors are tired of seeing you change.” Michael went out the next day to Family Dollar and bought his curtains.


(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Island was constructed from a modified Metro Shelf and Oak Table top found in the ‘As Is’ Bin at IKEA.
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Our Big, Orange Couch. ‘Junk’ thrift store
- Hayworth Bench. Pier 1 Imports
- White Wicker Chair. Vintage hand me down from Amber.
- Painting: “Promise Broken” by Kris Lewis. (Michael’s dad calls it "a permanent solution to a temporary problem")
- Mirrors. Collection from the streets of Boston and NYC.
- Magic Truck/coffee table. Off the streets of Boston.
- Rug. Anthropologie.
- That table everyone has by their front table. Handmade by New Butterfield

Custom Woodworks.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Dining table a salvaged oak table top refinished with milk paint sitting atop a
table base found on the street.
- Chairs refinished from Kerri’s breakfast table.
- Desk belonged to Michael’s Great-Grand Mother.
- Stained Glass lamp was a gift from Melanie Rich (from the Melanie Rich Lamp
- Owls are original prints by Erin Sherry.
- Painting above mantel is “Inner City Love” by Blue Lucy.
- Marie Antoinette fainting sofa from Urban Outfitters.
- Curtains. Urban Outfitters.
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Deer Skull Damask Wallpaper. www.wallpaperdirect.com
- Built in shelves.

- IKEA Desk. Courtesy of the streets of Bed-Stuy.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Dress form. Amazon.com

- Chandelier. Courtesy the streets of Williamsburg.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Comfy Chair. Hand me down from Michael’s Mom. (Too Big for the space but too damn comfy to part with.)
- Tools.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)


- Binky is Nora’s horse. He was found wandering the streets of Cambridge near
- Black Chair. Salvage refinished by Michael’s mother.

- Books are Nora’s journals from when she was 12 until today.

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Thanks, Michael, Kerri, and Nora!

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