In her work as a contributing editor for Elle Decor and a freelancer for Architectural Digest, Boerum Hill resident Kathleen Hackett, author of Brooklyn Interiors, would frequently come across Brooklyn homes with what she calls a “freestyle, maverick aesthetic.”
“I was seeing so many houses of friends and friends of friends that had fantastic interiors that would never cut it in magazines, because they don’t conform to a set of rules,” Hackett told Brownstoner. “I began to stockpile them in my head.”
Eventually, Hackett, who came to New York from Vermont in the early ’90s to work for Hearst Publishing and then Martha Stewart, joined forces with creative director Hilary Robertson, another longtime toiler in the design-editorial trade.
The two women “scoured the borough for interiors with wackiness and quirkiness and beauty,” Hackett said, and Brooklyn Interiors, a coffee-table book released by Rizzoli in April, is the result. It’s a tour of two dozen homes belonging to a certain arty subset of Brooklynites, quite a few of whom are artists, designers or in the fashion biz.
“We both love things that are a bit outré, not overly conventional,” said Hackett, “like the couple who combined modern photography with early American furniture in a quintessential Dumbo loft.”
Here are 240 pages of vividly decorated lofts, railroad flats, brownstones and industrial spaces across the borough, and even a century-old ferry boat docked in Red Hook. Furnishings are wide-ranging in style and period, incorporating artwork (often the homeowners’) hung or propped along walls, mismatched chairs, formal chandeliers hung from exposed beams, stacks of books, and flea market finds in every category. Nothing is too precious, pricey or serious.
Borrow as many ideas from the book as you wish. Each page of Brooklyn Interiors is packed full of visual information and ideas for the stealing. In fact, that is what Hackett hopes will happen.
“I hope people will come away feeling liberated from conventional decorating ideas,” Hackett said. “I can see people saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to paste museum postcards on the wall from floor to ceiling, or put a surfboard in the living room.’ I hope this book makes clear that you can live in your space any way that pleases you.”
In author Kathleen Hackett’s own Boerum Hill townhouse, a white chandelier, mirror and candlesticks by her husband Stephen Antonson, a sculptor who often works in plaster, stand out against deep gray walls. The original pine subfloors were stripped and coated in a pale gray wash.
Artwork in the dining room of Agnethe Glatved (who designed Brooklyn Interiors) and Matthew Septimus in Ditmas Park is arrayed above a low wall of books. Two red leather armchairs add an important element of color alongside a group of Wishbone chairs by Hans Wegner.
The collected objects in the Dumbo loft of photographer Maura McEvoy is evidence of her globe-trotting career. McEvoy removed walls to expose the architecture of the space.
The surfboard propped in the corner of McEvoy’s living room is a decades-old family heirloom.
Robert Highsmith and Stefanie Brechbuehler, founders of the design firm Workstead, kept the furnishings, including a classic Eames lounge chair and ottoman, intentionally spare in their 700-square-foot Cobble Hill apartment.
The art-filled Dumbo loft of Juliana Merz and Harry Cushing, in a former munitions factory, is “a little bit ugly” (Cushing’s words), and that’s the way they like it. The chandelier came from a movie theater in Lucca, Italy, and barely survived the shipping.
Ali, pictured at top in his Crown Heights loft, is a polymath painter originally from Tampa, Fla., by way of Los Angeles. He is perhaps best known for his one-man marketing studio A Noble Savage. His constantly changing live-work space sports a pyramid of suitcases, old piano parts, exposed brick, paint-splattered floors, and art work.
Click here to purchase Brooklyn Interiors.
[Photos by Matthew Williams]
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