sneak peek: maya marzolf of le grenier

maya marzolf opened le grenier in greenpoint, brooklyn just before summer. the store is filled with antiques – both rustic and industrial – as well as a mix of newer housewares, but somehow everything seems to mesh perfectly thanks to maya’s well-refined personal aethetic, which was honed when she worked as fashion photography producer. maya also brings that eclectic mix of styles to her personal home.  she unified everything by keeping the walls of her 1870 brownstone white – not only does this make the space feel brighter, but it also really lets her quirky finds take center stage!  maya’s greenpoint brownstone has been a labor of love for 7 years and althought no self-respecting renovator is ever finished, she is finally ready to show it off!  you can find additional images of maya’s home here.  {thanks maya!} –amy

[I bought the house, which is located in the Greenpoint Historic District of Brooklyn, in 2002.  It was built in the 1870s and there had never been any significant repairs or remodeling until I bought it; in it’s original state there were 3 enclosed rooms per floor plus a bathroom, and considering how small the footprint of the house is (20′ x 25′), you can imagine how tiny and dark those rooms were.  The plan was to open everything up, and it was only once we started that a lot of other issues began to come to light — sections of rotten subflooring, broken joists, roof damage, etc.  It was a big project to repair the structure of the building (at one point you could stand in the basement and see all the way up to the roof, 4 floors above!), and the basic work entailed a significantly larger budget than anticipated… which meant that all of the finishing work had to be put off until a later date.  In the end I’ve done most of the finishing work myself on a project-by-project basis, and now – 7 years later – it’s “mostly” finished.  There are certain things that I would now change if I could, in particular the configuration of the kitchen, but all in good time I suppose…  For now the house is functional and comfortable, and is comprised of 2 duplex apartments – I lease out the 2-floor garden unit, and keep the top 2 floors and the roof terrace to myself.]

I found this alligator bench about 8 years ago in Bali; I found a lot of great pieces there, actually, including a great mismatched pair of 1920s carved teak chairs which I got for $20 apiece!  All these items were crated and shipped and arrived in Brooklyn about 7 weeks later, and I was so very happy to see that alligator’s smiling face in my house.

The living room: coffee table – that’s actually a sand mold (my best guess is that it was perhaps for a train wheel, but I’m really not sure) from St Paul, Minnesota; sofa – 6-legged carved frame, early 1900s, bought in Holland; armchairs – that’s the Balinese pair, mirror – gray French carved frame with beveled mirror and gilt details, probably late 1800s or early 1900s; artwork – I have predominantly photographs in my house, most of which were gifts from photographers I worked with during my decade-long stint as a producer.  In this room: above the sofa: Louis Armstrong by Eddie Adams and left of fireplace, a vintage glass negative printed by Alexandro Martinengo.  On the coffee table is a copy of Robinson Crusoe that has a skull singed through the cover by Brooklyn artist Scott Campbell, bought at Future Perfect on N 6th in Williamsburg. I have skulls and skeletons (I’ve had a thing for them ever since I was a kid) sprinkled throughout the house, but the largest concentration of them is in the living room fireplace and they’ve been collected throughout my travels and also gifted by friends and family.

The stairs were in poor condition when I bought the house and they eventually needed to be replaced, much to my dismay; I tried to keep as much of the original curve as possible and was determined to reinstall the original banister (which is a really beautiful one and is still housed in pieces in my basement!) but was surprised to find how much I loved the open staircase once the banister was out. It sometimes makes people a little nervous, especially after a few glasses of wine, but it’s so open and airy that now I can’t imagine it any other way. The chandelier comes from one of my favorite antique dealers, on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, and is re-purposed. The crystals are from the late 1700s, salvaged and restrung on a new frame in the early 1900s. I love the shape of this piece and that it’s feminine without being frilly, and I use it with a basic multi-filament bulb which creates a delicate and warm light. In the right corner is a vintage ice box from upstate NY, which makes a fabulous liquor cabinet! Above the dining table is Senegal reportage by Patrick Cariou.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Maya’s sneak peek (including all 20 images on one page) after the jump!

My ex-husband had the same gnome table, by Philippe Starck, when we were living together, and the truth is that I always hated it!  It was a constant bone of contention in our household, we could never agree on a good place for it (he pushed for a prominent display and I always wanted it at least partially obstructed).  Time passes, though, and tastes change, and the last time I was in Amsterdam I visited one of my favorite stores there, The Frozen Fountain (which has really great modern pieces), and when I came across their display of Starck gnomes I just had to laugh: suddenly I really liked the damned thing, it put a huge smile on my face.  I think it makes a great plant stand, and it’s pretty cute next to the mushroom stool from A&G Merch in Williamsburg.

The fireplace mantel and inset were found separately in upstate NY. Inside the fireplace is a  skeleton collection that includes skeletons from Mexico, Jamaica, New Orleans, Brazil… and FAO Schwartz!

This loft was built out of the stud wood we found in the walls during demolition at 19 Greenpoint Ave (where my store, Le Grenier is; I bought the building with my best friend — who lives upstairs — and we gutted the whole thing).  I like using salvaged materials in my residential projects, both from an aesthetic and ecological perspective.   The metal ladder is an 1800s fire escape ladder, which leads up to the sleeping loft!  I love the way it all came together; the office beneath is a great little nook for working, the guest loft above has proved super functional, and the ladder is a much more comfortable climb than your typical straight vertical NYC roof access ladder.  The shelving came from M Fine Lumber in Brooklyn, they have a great selection of salvaged materials; the wood for my store shelving came from there, too.  And that sweet little sleeping beast is Grendel, one of my two cats.

  1. Elisabeth says:

    I love the relaxed and elegant atmosphere you’ve created. How you manage to combine 18th gilt with gnome tables, I don’t know, but it works works works!

  2. all i can think while viewing these pics is “an artist lives here.” “i want to be friends with whoever lives in this house.” “this house is all the things i want to be….full of distinctive character, doesn’t take itself too seriously, full of light and conversation starters.

  3. Eva says:

    i think it’s great you incorporated the industrial-looking elements like the metal ladder and the partly painted rough walls. Also really like the kitchen, it looks so cozy.

  4. Sal says:

    Love this. It is wonderful. I would love to live in a house like this.

  5. Silvia says:

    Wonderful house, full of stories and magic.
    I would like to lose myself there!…

  6. This might be my dream house! Completely amazing – those light fixtures are awesome, especially the chandelier in the top picture!

  7. Nicious says:

    Luv the croc bench…

  8. alex says:

    Super cool place, maya!

  9. Jeremy says:

    Where is the Dining(Drafting) table and chairs from?
    Forget the railing, the stairs rock!

  10. pRiyA says:

    this house has a lot of style! love it.

  11. Jacqui says:

    What a fantastic home! I love everything in it.

  12. Karen says:

    This is just beautiful. So playful but balanced and elegant at the same time. I like to think that a space always works if you fill it with the things you love.

  13. Katie VanCamp says:

    Maya – your home has inspired some “freshening up” in my home. I have been struggling with the idea to paint my exposed brick walls white… I love the rustic feel of the original brick, but given the small space, I think it would really open things up to have them white. I’d love to know what color of paints you used – the shades of white on your walls, and the stairs. Thanks for inspiring change!

  14. Christine says:

    Gasp! Fantastic!!! Where did you find that gorgeous wallpaper with the horseshoe crab?!

  15. Maya Marzolf says:

    What wonderful comments! I’m truly thankful that so many people have been intrigued by my little Money Pit; thank you so very much…

    @Kelsey — I found the bedspread at a Dwell sale in SoHo a couple years ago.

    @Cole & Christine — the bathroom artwork is actually a hand-painted mural; it was made by a local artist named Weston Woolley whom I’ve known for many years. He also painted the birch mural at my store (details of which can be seen at and also in spots on the store blog, under “What’s New” on the homepage). For both these projects I provided a basic idea and a few loose references, which we then discussed and evened out, and he had carte blanche to execute them however he saw fit. I couldn’t be happier with both finished murals — he did such excellent, beautiful work, and I love that these are unique pieces of art that tie in to things that are meaningful to me, rather than just a stock wallpaper. It’s a great way to personalize your space, and Weston is super talented.

    @alexismaia & Erika — the loft was another great collaboration with a local artist friend, this time ceramic sculptor Sebastian Trienens who also does high-end carpentry work. This was the first woodworking project I hired him on, and I was so thrilled with his work that I was happy to have him involved in quite a few big projects when I was building my store. The framework of this loft is all salvaged stud wood pulled out during demolition work at my store’s building, and I absolutely love the way it all came together.

    @andrea & Jeremy — the backed chairs on metal legs are 1920s drafting stools, I was lucky enough to find them at the same time as I found the table (at a 6th Ave flea market many years ago), and the backless wood chairs are traditional rustic Chinese stools which I found at The Golden Calf in Williamsburg (which has unfortunately since closed, but I’m sure you can find them elsewhere)

    @Erika — the metal ladder leads up to my roof terrace

    @Amanda — the stairs were painted with a basic floor-grade washable paint in a high-gloss ultra white (to create a bit of contrast with the creamier eggshell finish of the walls)

    @Katie VanCamp — I understand your hesitation in painting your exposed brick walls; I initially felt much the same way, myself. It definitely opened and brightened up my home, though, and for a dose of added persuasion I can also tell you that painting the walls will actually help insulate your place (contrary to popular opinion, solid brick walls are not draft-proof; adding just a few layers of paint can help increase the R-value of your walls). It’s a bit of a tedious process, though. First start with a basic primer and a thick-nap roller; once that layer is applied you’ll see where all of your major nooks & crannies are, which you’ll want to fill with plaster or joint compound (I do this literally by hand, wearing a couple layers of latex gloves; you can apply it with a trowel, too, but the application won’t be as smooth and you’ll need to sand it down once dried — if you go this route, make sure to wear a mask when you sand, you don’t want to inhale those particles). You now have a blank canvas to paint any color you like; you’ll probably have to apply 3 or 4 coats. The color I used here is my basic staple, I use it as a base for nearly all of my projects: Benjamin Moore color OC-110, Milky Way, in eggshell finish. Good luck!

  16. velika says:

    Beautiful, but as a parent it is hard to look at that staircase. It looks like an accident/lawsuit waiting to happen. Be careful guys!

  17. glampig says:

    I like the kitchen towels, love the bookshelf and the towel shelf in the restroom absolutely cute even a lil decor to the thermostat panel, creative

  18. handz says:

    Very nice! Please I´m looking for similar hand sculptures as you have, where to find them? Thank you.

  19. 24karas says:

    So inspiring!! Your home is just beautiful.

  20. ling says:

    7 years of labor – totally worthwhile! my respect.

  21. efia says:

    One of the best spaces I have ever seen! Many applause. I love it.

  22. Mandi says:

    I adore it! It’s exactly my taste. I have some of the same things, too. Very interesting to see it done so well!! This is one of my favorite sneaks of all.

    However, that winder staircase looks stinking scary (worst style of stairs as far as accident probabilities go) and that was before I even realized that it didn’t have a railing…


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