If You Hate Heavy Shelves But Love Books, You’ll Love This Podcast Host’s Apartment’s Solution
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As a marketing consultant and the co-host of two podcasts (“RomComPods” and “Bad on Paper“), Brooklyn resident Becca Freeman leads a busy life, but fortunately, she doesn’t have to look far when it comes to scheduling social plans. Two of her friends, including her “Bad on Paper” co-host Grace Atwood, occupy residences within Freeman’s four-unit building in Williamsburg. “Living in the same building as friends is great,” Freeman says. “We call it the sorority house. There are a lot of dinner parties and movie nights. It’s the best part of having roommates, but at the end of the night you get to go home to your own space.”
Prior to moving into her current apartment, Freeman lived in a small one-bedroom unit in the East Village. “I was really intrigued about having more space but wasn’t actively looking to move to Brooklyn,” she reflects. “I’m so glad I decided to move, because especially since COVID-19 hit, I’m so grateful to have more space!”
To decorate the space, Freeman hired designer Emma Beryl. “Before I moved to New York in 2012, the longest I’d ever lived in any apartment was 18 months,” Freeman notes. “When I moved into my first apartment in Manhattan, I figured it would be the same — a temporary space — but I ended up staying six and a half years. About three years in, I realized that I should probably do some more decorating and make it feel like ‘me.’ When I moved to this apartment, I knew that I didn’t want to waste any time. I wanted to decorate from the get-go, but knew I needed a designer to help.”
“Becca’s vision was to make the space feel warm, feminine, and joyful — she had a lot of great ideas from the get-go and was also really open to taking chances and having fun,” Beryl says. “I tend to have strong opinions on individual pieces, but flail when it comes to visualizing how everything will fit together,” Freeman says. “I wanted someone to help me figure out how to best use the space and how everything would flow together, especially because my kitchen, living, dining area is all one big open space.”
Of key importance was designing space for a home office, Beryl notes. Additionally, “Becca also had a lot of books we had to consider creating storage for and displaying strategically, which became one of the major goals of the design.” The solution? A custom bookcase from Soil and Oak. “Our goal was to create a place to store all of Becca’s books that she reads and discusses on her ‘Bad on Paper’ podcast,” Beryl explains. “The brass pipes add a little glamour to the brick walls and is the perfect system for us to display all of Becca’s books and personal items. Toward the end of the project, I went through all of Becca’s books and decorations with her and styled the bookcases so that it looks full and colorful but not overwhelming or too precious.”
Looking back on the project, Beryl states, “I love how feminine and colorful we made the space. Some of the existing elements in the space were overly masculine and cold — the brick walls, exposed pipes, and unfinished floors. I’m really pleased with the way we were able to incorporate soft finishes and warm colors to make it feel more feminine, cheerful, and balanced.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colorful, and maybe a bit bohemian. I like neutral spaces for other people, but it just doesn’t feel “me.”
Inspiration: I save inspiration photos (many from Apartment Therapy) on Instagram. I have them in a folder. Usually they’re just totally random people’s houses that resonate with me.
Favorite Element: I’m a huge reader and have ALWAYS wanted a wall of bookshelves. But I also don’t like how heavy some of them look. Emma found a craftsman to make a custom wall of shelves using wood and gold spray painted pipes for an airier look that also showed off the exposed brick wall behind the shelving. I get such a happy feeling every time I look at my shelves.
Biggest Challenge: My apartment is large, but it’s also pretty bare bones. For instance, there is no “real” flooring in my bedroom or office; it’s just gray painted plywood. We needed to find some great rugs to cover as much floor space as possible to make the space feel homey.
Proudest DIY: Replacing the hardware on my IKEA dresser completely changed the look of it and made it feel so much more high-end than it actually is.
Biggest Indulgence: Good lighting units. When I moved in the apartment had your standard New York rental lighting (hello, boob lights), we switched out all the fixtures, which was a big investment for a rental, especially when you consider both the lighting and the electrician, but it made such a big difference in the look and feel of the space.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The building was built in 1899 and I believe it was some kind of factory. There’s also an attached unit that was previously a carriage house. My unit still has an original antique wood stove made of iron (it must weigh at least 1,000 lbs).
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I’m obsessed with candles from a new brand called Hotel Lobby Candle. The smell of the original candle is so delicate and unique, and truly makes my apartment smell like a fancy hotel.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I don’t have a ton of storage space in the kitchen or the bathroom. So I got two-tiered cabinet organizers for both the kitchen and the bathroom and also got lazy susans in multiple sizes for the kitchen cabinets to maximize usable space.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? For large format art on a small budget, find a photo that you like on Unsplash, a free stock photography website, and upload it to Framebridge. I’ve gotten framed art that is 3 to 4 feet wide for under $200. The pieces look so much more expensive than they actually were.
Thanks Becca and Emma!!
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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