This Small Brooklyn Apartment Excels at Storage
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Name: Caroline and Jared Sullivan
Location: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, rented
Before moving to New York City, Caroline and Jared Sullivan lived in Charleston, South Carolina. And while they were ready to embrace their new home in the Big Apple, they also wanted to keep a little bit of their previous life in their new apartment, too.
And they accomplished this mix of NYC and Charleston by keeping their small space clean, but homey. “I like having an eclectic mix of items that we’ve acquired over time,” Caroline says. “They hold memories of specific places and times in our lives when we bought them, and I think they’ve made our home feel sincere, timeless, warm, and welcoming.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Before my husband and I got married and moved in together, we never discussed what we wanted our home to look like. But we discovered early on that we both like a mix of old and new pieces, with clean lines and timeless touches. The result, I think, is traditional meets rustic meets modern, in a way that’s fresh but also comfortable and unfussy.
Inspiration: I try to think long term when purchasing furniture. We have a handful of IKEA pieces that we bought out of necessity when we first moved to New York. But, ultimately, my goal is to buy items that I know we’ll be able to enjoy for years to come, and not just toss when they fall apart or trends change. I picked out the farm table and dresser from an antique store when I was in middle school (thanks, Mom!) and I still love both items. I have a pretty strong compass for what I like, and it hasn’t changed much over the years. And, luckily, Jared rolls with it.
Favorite Element: The tall windows and high ceilings make our space feel a lot larger than it is. Plus, we get a lot of welcome natural light. Location is another big selling point. We take daily strolls down the the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which is at the end of our street and offers the best view of the city. It’s nice having a place to get out and stretch your legs.
All the artwork in our apartment was created by or given to us by close friends. The cowboy above our coat rack was painted by Sophie Treppendahl; the giant “S” by Nashville’s Hatch Show Print was a wedding gift; Teil Duncan (a fellow Auburn grad) painted the nude portrait hanging in our bedroom; the oil landscape was done by a family friend, Tiffany Foss, and depicts a field near my family’s home in Tennessee; the Carl Moos Chocolat Klaus print was a gift from my boss; the Secretariat print hung in my mother’s room when she was a child. I like that there’s a little story attached to each thing on our wall.
Biggest Challenge: Our kitchen is a glorified closet—consisting of an oven, sink, and fridge, with extremely limited storage and zero countertops. I cook about five nights a week and also love to entertain, so this was a big adjustment when we moved in. I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered preparing entire meals on a 20″ x 14″ cutting board that covers two eyes of our stove.
For lack of cabinet space, we hang pots and pans on the wall and purchased an IKEA cart that serves as a much needed work surface. The top of our fridge is an eyesore, but it holds odds and ends as well. In our living room, we have an IKEA KALLAX shelf unit that holds our dishes, glassware, utensils, mixing bowls, food, etc., as well as our vinyl collection. We’ve learned to maximize every square inch of space, and multi-functional pieces are key.
What Friends Say: I strive for our apartment to feel warm and inviting, and our friends seem to make themselves at home when they are here, so I guess that’s a seal of approval.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our bathroom has floor-to-ceiling tile from the ’80s. I wish it were cool vintage, but it’s definitely not. There’s set-in grunge that won’t go away, no matter how much we scrub it. Biggest downside to renting is not being able to make needed updates.
Proudest DIY: Without a doubt, my biggest frustration about our place is the lack of storage. We have only one closet, and it’s about four feet wide—which, for two people, is absurd. To make up for that, I bought a clothing rack and installed floor-to-ceiling wall storage along one side of our bedroom, then hung curtains from the ceiling to hide the mess. Pull back the curtain, and it’s organized chaos. But at least it’s out of sight and, mostly, out of mind. Our full bed—no room for a queen—is also on two-foot risers, so that we can maximize storage underneath. Anything that can hold something does—unzip the Yeti coolers stacked in our closet and you’ll likely find my winter boots in one and bed sheets in the other.
Biggest Indulgence: Before moving to New York, Jared and I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where there’s a furniture company called Landrum Tables that makes handmade pieces using locally sourced reclaimed wood. I’d wanted one of their tables for years, but Jared and I—being typical young newlyweds—were broke, and had little furniture. Our Landrum coffee table was the first piece we splurged on as a couple. Less than a month after we purchased it, however, we moved to New York, so I like having a nod to Charleston, a town we miss dearly, in our home. The piece is really special to us.
Best Advice: Build a home over time. Financially, we don’t have the means to purchase all of our furniture in one fell swoop—or, really, buy more than one piece at a time. But I wouldn’t want to even if we did. I like having an eclectic mix of items that we’ve acquired over time. They hold memories of specific places and times in our lives when we bought them, and I think they’ve made our home feel sincere, timeless, warm, and welcoming.
Dream Sources: Holler & Squall is an antique store down the street from us, on Henry and Atlantic, in Brooklyn Heights. They source items from auctions, estate sales, and flea markets all over the U.S., and their selection changes weekly and is always so thoughtfully curated. Additional brands include Schoolhouse Electric, Rejuvenation, and Restoration Hardware.
EKTORP loveseat, Nordvalla dark gray — IKEA
Throw pillows — IKEA
Signature coffee table — Landrum Tables
Vintage Turkish rug — Revival Rugs
Wood dresser — Antique store in Franklin, TN
Beige curtains — IKEA
Green high back chair — Anthropologie/ thrifted
Antique farm table — Antique store in Franklin, TN
Morten table lamp — West Elm
Studio wall shelf — Pottery Barn
Copper bar tray — Williams-Sonoma
Crystal glassware — Family heirloom
Crystal fruit bowl — Family heirloom
Ceramic pitcher — Providence Interiors
Record player — Music Hall mmf-1.5
Accent table — Urban Outfitters (similar)
Silver picture frames — Thrifted
Floor lamp — Target (similar)
Woven baskets — World Market
Secretariat print — Hung in my mom’s bedroom as a child
Round dining table — Holler & Squall
Dining chairs — Restoration Hardware/thrifted
Silver tray — Providence Interiors
Dalia coaster — Anthropologie
KALLAX shelf unit — IKEA
Antique mirror — From my Grandmother’s house
White pitcher — Williams Sonoma
Apilco tulip serving bowl — Williams-Sonoma
Dark wood salad bowl — Williams-Sonoma
Pickle pot — Williams-Sonoma
Glass flour canister — Target
Cow creamer — Williams-Sonoma
Art — Tiffany Foss
Belgian flax linen bedding, natural — West Elm
Ribbed blanket — West Elm
Accent pillow — Pottery Barn (similar)
Nude portrait — Teil Duncan
Ceiling brackets for curtain rod — Amazon
Curtains — IKEA
LACK wall shelf — IKEA
Dresser — Thrifted
Algot wall upright storage — IKEA
Clothing rack — Bed Bath & Beyond
Mini Abacus table lamp — West Elm
Laundry hamper — Anthropologie (similar)
Over the door shoe rack — Amazon
Thanks, Caroline and Jared!
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