Sofia’s DIY Garden Apartment in Brooklyn

updated Jul 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Name: Sofia Berger
Location: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 480 square feet + garden
Years lived in: 3 years; rented

Sofia is a banker by day and an aspiring interior designer in the rest of her time. She frequents the hardware stores so often that the employees know her by name. Her bookcases are stocked with shelter magazines and her furniture has been decoupaged, reconstructed, upholstered, hacked or built from scratch. All this and we haven’t even gotten to the garden yet.

Yellow is a recurring theme that greets you from the moment you enter the hallway to the watering can and throw pillows out back. These consistent pops of color carry you gracefully through what is basically a two-room studio, but feels much larger and more open, and will have you asking where the bedroom is (before realizing it’s hidden inside the couch!).

Each area has been transformed into segments in such a thoughtful way, with many nooks, crannies and built-ins; every piece serves a dual purpose. The gray tufted sofa doubles as a pullout bed since there is no actual bedroom; an armoire is a desk in disguise, and one that Sofia hacked from IKEA to look like a vintage piece. Taking the bland Hemnes secretary, sanding, painting and adding molding was pure décor genius, especially because it arrives in flat packaging for small space dwellers.

Sofia Berger Interiors is now accepting clients for consultation on all types of spaces, especially smaller spaces that may need space-saving solutions that are chic and functional. Sofia can be contacted via Facebook, Pinterest or email.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Traditional meets classic modern with vintage and rustic elements.

Inspiration: Original details found in old architecture

Favorite Element: My favorite elements of the space includes the size of the garden, the size and openness of the kitchen, and the modern feel in the bathroom

Biggest Challenge: Moving from a 2,000 square foot duplex apt into a smaller apartment.

What Friends Say: “I want to move in.”

Biggest Embarrassment: The door that exits to the garden is awkwardly placed in the bathroom.

Proudest DIY: Some of my proudest DIY projects include the wall in the kitchen with the white cabinets/shelves/fireplace, the revamping of the bench in the entryway along with converting the entrance into a mudroom, and the rustic look of the fireplace vignette wall with outdoor dining area.

Biggest Indulgence: Redesigning the garden.

Best Advice: When you live in a small space, the best space saver is storing things vertically on shelves as high as your ceiling height allows and using furniture pieces that serve a dual purpose. When shopping for furniture, you should follow your heart while not making impulse purchases.

Dream Sources: Restoration, Olde Good Things, Horchow

Resources of Note:


  • Behr: Classic Silver
  • Benjamin Moore: Citron/Chartreuse
  • Behr: Classic Silver
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: Paris Grey
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: Old White


  • Bench: Flea Market / DIY refinished
  • Shoe storage: Ikea, Billy bookcase extension
  • Light Fixture: DIY
  • Rug: Crate & Barrel
  • Antique mirror: Flea market


  • Printed Dresser: DIY decoupage with magazine & newspaper pages
  • Secretary Desk: Ikea / DIY refinished
  • 2 Arm Chairs: Trash & reupholstered
  • Sofa: Slingers Upholstery
  • Mirrored Credenza: Home Decorators
  • Brass Lamps: Vintage / Antique Store
  • Console: Craig’s List
  • Coffee Table: Craig’s List
  • Rug: Amazon
  • Ethanol Fire place: Amazon
  • Allen + Roth Paintable Wallpaper: Lowes
  • Mannequin: Flea market / revamped


  • Wall of white built-in shelves: Custom construction
  • Shelves above sink: Custom construction
  • Below counter recycling station: Custom construction
  • Chandelier: West Elm
  • Dining table: Flea market
  • Dining armchairs: Bedford Antiques
  • Drapes: Custom-made
  • Allen + Roth Paintable Wallpaper: Lowes


  • Chandelier: Amazon
  • Allen + Roth Paintable Wallpaper: Lowes
  • Antique mirror: Flea market
  • Suitcase: Flea market
  • Mannequin: Flea market / revamped


  • Under sink towel shelves: custom construction
  • Accessories: Marshalls / Target
  • Shower bench: Home Goods


  • Landscape layout of gravel and pavers: DIY
  • Chalkboard door: DIY
  • Pallet sign: DIY
  • Grill counter: DIY
  • Counter table with curved legs: Flea market
  • Cinder block vertical garden: DIY
  • Fireplace vignette: DIY
  • Pallet mirror: DIY
  • Dining benches: Flea market / DIY white wash paint
  • Dining chairs: Craigs List / DIY white wash paint
  • Dining table: Ikea
  • Tent & Lounge chairs: Ikea
  • Coffee table: Craig’s List
  • Fire pit: Target
  • Cooler on wheels: Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Throw pillows & accessories: Marshalls / Flea market
  • Bamboo reed fencing: Home Depot
(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Thanks, Sofia!

(Images: by Andrea Sparacio, except portrait & kitchen mirrors by Sekiya Dorsett)

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Re-edited from a post originally published on 7.19.13