My Sunny Spot in Bushwick

My sunny living room in Bushwick

People are always shocked to learn that I was born and raised in the south. My accent is neutral and (I think) it lacks any notably regional characteristics. I attended an annual summer camp for kids with type 1 diabetes (shoutout to Camp Kudzu!) in Cleveland, Georgia and tried to introduce “y’all” into my vocabulary to blend in with the other kids. As camp ended, so did my accent.

In 2011, my partner and I relocated to Philadelphia so I could attend Drexel University for grad school. We were shocked to learn that a 250 SF studio in West Philly cost about the same price as our 2-bedroom in Charleston, South Carolina. After I received my acceptance letter, I sold almost everything we owned on Craigslist to begin our next life.

Our home in West Philly was a 12′ x 15′ box; this included the kitchen and the bathroom. My partner worked from home and our bedroom/living room/dining room was basically just an office with a very firm sofa bed, storage ottomans, and bistro table. Our clothing closet was an IKEA armoire whose sliding doors would often get stuck… leaving me unclothed and in a rush to get to class, cursing the Swedish gods. Living in that studio for one year taught me a few things:

  1. Our cat makes for the worst sleeping partner. He would constantly wake me up by sniffing my mouth or shaking the bed with his grooming.
  2. Do not fry bacon in the same room with your clean clothes, especially if there is poor ventilation. Eau de bacon is not charming.
  3. It feels refreshing to donate and throw things away. I try not to hold onto anything that I haven’t used/looked at in a year or two. I highly recommend KonMari-ing your closet!
  4. By using SketchUp and building a 3d model of our studio, I made our tiny box inhabitable and as fabulous as it could be. We even threw a party and invited a dozen people over! The space was so tight, but booze and good food help keep guests happy.

We moved to a 400 SF 1-bedroom in a nicer part of West Philly after our lease was up, and then to a 1200 SF duplex in Upper Darby after I graduated and decided to operate my interior design business full-time.

My partner got a great job in SoHo towards the end of 2014, and I knew I’d have way more fun design opportunities in NY, so we relocated to Brooklyn in February of this year. Once again, I was shocked by the cost of living in the northeast. Compared to Philly, an apartment that is half the size costs twice as much in New York. And then there are BROKER FEES! GAH!

We lucked out and found our no-fee, brand new 690 SF 1-bedroom in Bushwick using StreetEasy. I fell in love with the natural steel floor to ceiling windows and we signed the lease right away. We have gated parking, a washer/dryer, a dishwasher, and a patio for my herbs and Fig’s cat grass. I couldn’t ask for more.

Here was the apartment right after we signed the lease. We had a lot to do!

Bushwick apartment before picture

Moving to Brooklyn has changed my fashion and interior design styles quite a bit. My design aesthetic has become more edgy, graphic, light, natural, and neutral. I’ve grown to love bright minimalist Scandinavian interiors, Brooklyn made furniture/accessories, midcentury furniture, and plants as decor. For my own apartment, I tried to decorate it in a way that preserves its beautiful architecture and lightness.

Here are photos from a shoot on Friday:

Midcentury teak dining table Our dining table was a great 60s teak splayed leg midcentury find on Craigslist. I love our big copper pendant lamp. It replaced a hideous cheap submarine-esque fluorescent fixture that came with the apartment.

The IKEA media wall has been a lifesaver. It hides hundreds of fabric, wallpaper, and tile samples, and my partner’s computer science notes/books/wires/vintage computer keyboard collection. The closed storage reduces visual clutter and creates a much cleaner ambiance.

Sleepy catClearly all the cleaning I did for the shoot totally exhausted my cat (Fig). He was passed out the entire time. Decided not to disturb him; the last time he was awake for a photo shoot, he knocked over the reflectors.

IKEA media wall

These super deep lounge chairs are the Pennie from Crate & Barrel. They are very comfortable, but need an ottoman or pouf to realize their full comfort potential. Crate & Barrel doesn’t make the linen color anymore, but they offer cornflower blue or charcoal. The chair by the window is Fig’s favorite spot in our living room.


Some accessories from BoConcept, Homegoods, and a square of Sculpey that I carved and painted to look like wood. It fools everyone!
     Sleepy cat on a comfy chair

The Fig in his natural element. It’s hard to have plants at his level because he will eat them, so I found a way around that with a terrarium with (unfortunately dying) succulents. Will provide a better shot when I put some healthier looking succulents in the terrarium. We have Plantina in a tall planter that Fig has not yet figured out how to access, and hanging air plants.

Bushwick apartment living room with floor to ceiling windows

I am still on the fence about these bright yellow/chartreuse linen draperies. I’m not sure if they are too obnoxious. I put a lot of time into acquiring them from CB2’s website, and then in Soho when they had horrible warehouse issues this past summer, and them hemming them by hand 10″. I really need to learn how to sew with a machine.

Big gallery wall over a traditional charcoal sofa

Our gallery wall is composed of a big canvas of Luna Park in Coney Island, a sparkly portrait of Fig, a laser cut abstracted bamboo project I made in grad school, samples from my rock collection, a sign I painted in a sign painting class through DesignPhiladelphia, and a pretty architectural photo.

The sofa is wrapped with a plaid twin size blanket to protect it from cat hair. I am tired of vacuuming the sofa cushions all the time, so the blanket adds some pattern and is easier to wash.

Our coffee table is AWESOME. It is the lift top industrial storage table from West Elm and it makes working/eating in front of the t.v. so much more comfortable. We can also hide stuff inside the coffee table.

Air plants in hanging terrariums

Here are my air plant babies from Amazon. I think I’m going to buy fishing line to make the terrariums look more like they’re floating.

Eames chairs with midcentury teak dining table and big copper pendant lamp

Another shot of the dining area. I don’t love the huge painting behind the door, but it is covering a big grey fuse box. I’d like to replace the frame with a lighter one at some paint or totally rethink that spot. The cabinet by the door holds our shoes.

And that’s it for now! I’m working on our bedroom now :).


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