A Brooklyn Rental Apartment Features Cute Ways to Store Things (Both In AND Out of Sight)

published Aug 14, 2020

A Brooklyn Rental Apartment Features Cute Ways to Store Things (Both In AND Out of Sight)

published Aug 14, 2020
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Name: Erin Derby, daughter, Auden, dogs Ginger and Briggs, and scaredy cat, Pearl
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 11 years, renting

I live in a pre-war apartment building in an awesome part of Brooklyn, right off of Prospect Park. The building is like living in a little village where people know and look out for each other. These pre-war apartments are also a lot bigger than your average New York apartment, and I have a ton of closet space. I use every inch of it though because I have photography gear to store [Erin is a fine art and commercial photographer, as well as a contributor for Apartment Therapy!], and a ridiculous amount of clothing and textiles!

I’m also a big nester, so I am constantly rearranging and re-styling and re-painting my home. Sometimes you have to live in a space for a while to understand what decor style suits it best. All of my rooms have gone through many permutations and paint colors. But that’s what’s so amazing about a little rearranging and painting… it goes a long way in creating an entirely new space. I love it so much that I’ve begun doing some consulting and styling for other people on the side. 

Credit: Erin Derby

The apartment itself is a very strange layout, with the bedroom and kitchen miles away from the living room. But I like my loud action movies, so it’s amazing to not have to worry that the sound will travel and wake my daughter up! My main issue now is that I’ve acquired so much stuff (linens, pillows, sports equipment, animals) that I have needed to get very clever about storing it all in a way that’s not an eyesore. Some things are hidden, like under the table skirt in the entryway. And some things need to be styled nicely because there’s nowhere for them to hide, like the pile of pillows in the living room corner. Of course I’m also trying to purge from time to time. Need any pillows? 

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Depends on the space, but right now I’m very much into color and some Indian influences. 

Inspiration: I love art. I love it on my walls and all around. Everything from my daughter’s childhood paintings to pottery to Irving Penn to Basquiat to street graffiti. I will have a wall of graffiti in my home someday, filled with color. And I think decorating your home is a valid way to be creative and expressive. It should not be underestimated as an important way to create a safe and peaceful space. 

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: The original archways and molding… the pre-war charm. 

Biggest Challenge: My living room doesn’t have much daylight. My rule is to try to never use the overhead lighting. It’s terrible. Lamps with the right bulbs everywhere is key. And if you MUST use the overhead, like in my kitchen, replace the fixture with something that creates a better and more direct quality of light. I put lampshades over mine, attached to the ceiling. 

Credit: Erin Derby

Proudest DIY: I don’t know that I have one that stands out. I like my TV console, which is two IKEA IVAR cabinets with blue chalk paint and brass details and handles added. But I still need to add some brass feet on there, too. THEN I’ll feel like it’s complete. 

Biggest Indulgence: My bedroom rug. It’s a silk blend and a dream to lay around on. It really elevated the room. No animals are allowed on it, and definitely no shoes! 

Credit: Erin Derby

Best Advice: Even if you rent, take the time to make it a home. Paint, add molding, collect furniture you love, and not temporary pieces that are just “for now.” And don’t use overhead lights! Lighting sets the tone for every room. 

What’s your best home secret: At least one antique or vintage item in each room gives it some authenticity. But you should love the piece, too. And don’t have a bunch of little pieces of furniture filling up every bit of space. Large statement pieces that you love are better than smaller pieces of filler. That goes for sofas, wall art, TV consoles, bed frames, rugs, etc. And the lighting trick I mentioned earlier! Place lamp shades over ceiling lights to create a better quality of light, and therefore a better mood! (As seen in my entryway). I could go on and on…

And go to Walmart with whatever colors you want. The paint is cheaper and just as good. 


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Rug — Etsy
  • Table and Chairs — Vintage finds
  • Artwork on left and right walls — Erin’s Photographs erinderby.com and Saatchiart
  • Decorative Boxes, Pillows and Fabric on chairs — John Robshaw
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Brown Sofa — Not sure
  • Pillows on Brown Sofa — Michael Aram on Decoratd
  • Indigo & White Sofa — John Robshaw
  • Pillows on Indigo & White Sofa — Marshalls/HomeGoods
  • Coffee table — Restoration Hardware
  • Black Dresser — One Kings Lane
  • Grey Lamp — Marshalls/HomeGoods
  • Linen Chair — John Robshaw
  • Console — The IVAR from IKEA, with blue chalk paint and brass handles from Amazon
  • Rugs — Vintage, handed down
  • Armoir — Vintage find
  • Artwork on armoire — erinderby.com and Saatchiart
  • Desk — Vintage barn door on vintage machine base
  • Desk lamp — Vintage, handed down
  • Desk chair — John Robshaw
Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


Thanks Erin!

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