The Insider: Apartment for One in Cobble Hill


    Welcome to The Insider, Brownstoner’s every-Thursday series exploring how we furnish and decorate our homes here in the county of Kings. We cover the work of professionals and DIY-ers in every style, neighborhood, and housing type. The only unshakeable criteria: an abundance of creativity and a Brooklyn address.

    Photo: Elizabeth Lippman

    Sometimes an interior designer is called upon to work almost from scratch, and that’s what happened here. A single woman with an interest in art but few furnishings called Brooklyn-based designer Julia Mack for help decorating her rented 1BR brownstone floor-through. The one thing the client did have: a long 1960s sofa she’d bought for $75 at a Henry Street stoop sale. A few months later, Julia had pulled it all together, giving the modest apartment “strong basics, which can be supplemented with new art or vintage pieces as time goes on.”

    Details and photos on the jump.


    A mix of spendy and thrifty is at the heart of Julia Mack’s decorating philosophy. Secondhand pieces like the mid-century coffee table and stoop sale finds like the pale yellow sofa take some of the sting out of expensive purchases like the Eero Saarinen womb chair from Knoll and a custom rug from Kia Carpets of Atlantic Avenue. Photo: Elizabeth Lippman


    The clean-lined ’60s sofa is the piece around which the wide-ranging decorative scheme was built. The sculptural mahogany coffee table is from Two Jakes in Williamsburg. Photo: Cara Greenberg


    The eco-friendly console is the work of Michael Iannone of Philadelphia [detail below]. The client chose the striking striped artwork, a painted assemblage by Eric Johnston, who creates art out of reclaimed wood in a studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The lamp is from IKEA. Photo: Elizabeth Lippman


    The unusual console is made of white cut laminate over ‘sustainable kirei board made from salvaged sorghum stalks.’ “It works with the existing floors,” says designer Julia Mack, “and brings nature inside.” Photo: Cara Greenberg


    The elaborate tin ceilings are original to the apartment. Julia came up with the idea of cutting a piece of mirror to fit precisely within the existing moldings above the fireplace mantel (also original). Photo: Cara Greenberg


    The ultra-modern bar stools at the kitchen counter are imported from Spain by Design Within Reach. Photo: Cara Greenberg


    The bedroom needed special treatment “to make it memorable,” as Julia puts it, so she hired Emily Billington of Brooklyn-based Haypenny Design to paint delicate leaves on the wall behind the bed. The existing ceiling beams were painted white, with palest sky blue in between. Photo: Elizabeth Lippman


    Another bold stroke is the vintage carved screen, probably from India, propped behind the headboard. Photo: Cara Greenberg


    Wall-to-wall shag from Atlantic Avenue’s Better Carpet makes the bedroom feel “cocoon-like.” Photo: Elizabeth Lippman

    If you missed “The Insider” last week, or would like another look at architect Kim Hoyt’s Carroll Gardens home and studio in the new, easier-to-read format, you’ll find it right here.

    The Insider is produced and written by Cara Greenberg, a longtime Brooklyn resident and design journalist who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun and Profit.

    Next Thursday: Victoriana meets Mid-Century Modern in a Boerum Hill duplex

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