sneak peek: sam horine

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Sam Horine is a freelance photographer based in New York. He and his wife, Robin Wellington, and cat, Franklin, moved into this 500-square-foot apartment in the South Slope/Windsor Terrace area of Brooklyn four years ago. At the time, it was a complete mess, with an overgrown yard filled with trash and walls in every hideous pastel imaginable. They started with a fresh coat of paint throughout and have been making tweaks ever since. The small space means they have to limit what comes in, so the goal is always to surround themselves with things they like and hope they work together. Thanks, Sam! — Anne

P.S. — New York readers can view Sam’s portrait work in the lobby of The W at Times Square from now until 1/11/11.

Image above: This corner of our living room is one of our favorites. We started collecting the animal heads after we picked up the two cows at a flea market in rural Virginia. Most of them came from eBay. The stabby thing is a frog spear from Erie Basin that I gave to Robin as an anniversary gift, and the nesting hedgehogs are an ashtray set that belonged to Robin’s grandparents. We just got married at the end of August and ordered the cake topper from The Small Object.


Image above: This painting is of an unidentified Wellington relative. The photo it was based [on] is taped to the back, but we’re still not sure who it is. The Bertoia chair came from a junk shop in the Catskills. Robin thrifted the lamp and globe in Providence, and the pig was a gift from friends. The table that the pig and lamp are sitting on was made out of a cherry tree that fell in my parents’ yard in Maine.


Image above: With the exception of the living room and bedroom, the apartment is less than 8′ wide. I put a piece of wood into a baker’s rack at counter height to maximize the amount of work space we have. It makes a huge difference when we’re turning out big meals — Robin is an amazing cook and we love to entertain. The paintings are from Steve Keene. His work is incredibly affordable and really brightens things up. Even though it’s a horrible rental kitchen, we put these floors in ourselves. We couldn’t live with the old ones.


Image above: Our kitchen fridge is kind of a time capsule: pictures from friends’ weddings, a holiday card from our friend Eliz (another awesome photographer), Rockaway Taco menu, photo of our niece, random photobooth shots, cardboard and tinfoil Prince symbol from an old Halloween costume, etc. The letterpressed “dude” card is our house stationery. We custom ordered them a while back and find it works for nearly every occasion. The donkey picture was taken in a town overrun with feral burros that I found on a road trip with my buddy Brian. We like to serve wine out of the Erlenmeyer flask on top of the fridge — it reminds us of 360 in Red Hook, which was our favorite restaurant. Sadly, it closed a few years back.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Sam’s home tour after the jump!


Image above: This is my office. The Herman Miller desk chair was a Craigslist purchase that Robin rolled back from Astoria on the subway.


Image above: We got this ear anatomy poster from eBay for less than $10. We were psyched.


Image above: The dining room is where most of our original art is hung. We’re fortunate to have so many pieces from our friends and family. Some of the artists include Brian Douglas, Cake, Armsrock, El Celso, Infinity, UPSO, Royce Bannon, Gore B and Robin’s aunt, Nancy Young. The grey print in the center is a Keiko Minami that was in Robin’s house growing up. The Brooklyn Museum re-framed it for me in payment for some photos I took for them, and they did an incredible job.


Image above: This dresser in the bedroom is another Craigslist find. We bought it for next to nothing from a nice guy who was moving to Alaska. The painting is another Gore B and the print above it is from Matty8080, who also did the pink one in the living room.


Image above: Another view of the ear poster, plus a drawing I found in the street. All of the throw pillows in the apartment are from Thomas Paul, and all the curtains are made with Marimekko fabric. Our next project will probably be to make a headboard.


Image above: We struggled with finding a light for the dining room before we ended up with this one from CB2. The burl wood bowl was a wedding gift from Robin’s cousin, and the Eames chairs (as well as the yellow one in the kitchen) were yard sale finds. The plant stands and Christmas cactus came from Robin’s grandmother’s home.

  1. Dianne says:

    This house is amazing. How do people get their houses so amazing! *stares at own house in despair*

  2. Tanya says:

    I heart the white frame over the faux fireplace. So gorgeous.
    ~Tanya
    dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com
    P.S. Don’t despair, Dianne, your house can be beautiful too!

  3. Anna @ D16 says:

    Oh, wow! I remember seeing this place several years ago on Apartment Therapy (I think it was in a “good questions” post about painting brick?), and it so fun to see how it’s changed and improved since then.

    I’m also pleased to see that you didn’t paint the brick. :) I like painted brick, but I think you wound up with a more interesting balance of textures and colors by leaving it alone in this case.

    Thanks for the updated peek!

  4. Oh my goodness, the books are organized by color. So gonna do that!

  5. Jackie says:

    It’s all adorable! I realize that even this little apartment has more wall space for art than my own house–it’s twice the size, but all windows and doors. How does one deal with that??

    The office looks so tidy and efficient. I like the look of the books grouped by color–but I really do wonder how people find anything. Do tell!

  6. maria says:

    Absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!!!!! I’m jealous that you got an anatomy poster for that cheap.

  7. DC Sarah says:

    lovely art collection and great use of a teeny space! seems much bigger than 500 sf to me.

    @Jackie-I also organize my books by color, and find it actually helps me find things easier! my brain tends to sort things by color, thus i can remember spine/cover colors really easily and find things quickly this way :)

  8. Julie says:

    Wow, this place is amazing and personal with just the right amount of color. You have done so much with such a small space.

    Can you please provide a little more information about those white ceramic (?) animal heads? I tried doing a search for them without any luck.

  9. I’m in love with the animal heads. So freaking clever and so going to try this!

  10. Sarah says:

    I love this home! So much wit and charm. Can you tell me where the white framed mirror over the fireplace is from?

  11. Christy says:

    Great space! Love the animal heads!

  12. Minnie says:

    Beautifully curated space! I love all the little quirks which add so much life and personality. It looks like a home created with much love and care.

  13. Julie K says:

    Having just finished taking a very intense anatomy course at a community college with ridiculously old anatomy posters (not much changes, you see) I was horrified to see the exact same ear anatomy poster I studied for hours and hours only a few weeks ago. I guess I still need more time to recover from that class. That said, if you’d like a copy of the key to the poster, I could send it your way in a few weeks. The old font is pretty cool as are some of the old names for the anatomy.

  14. AlwaysMod says:

    Looks great. Love all the color.

  15. Love the animal heads and the anatomy poster – those are really hard to find at a decent price!

  16. Izabella says:

    The ceramic animal heads are to die for! Love them!!

  17. dominiqueb says:

    absolutely adore seeing other color-coded bookshelf enthusiasts.
    you see family & friends?
    am not alone in my color-coded madness ;) lovely home!

  18. Robin says:

    Thank you for all of your kind comments! It was so much fun to be able to show our place off like this :)

    To answer your questions:

    Anna – You are correct that we posed that question to AT several years ago re: painting the brick. I can’t believe you can remember that! We actually did treat it with a diluted lime wash, which helped to eliminate the gross yellowed shellac shine and brought the brick color closer in line with the rest of the apartment’s color palette. I’m glad that you like it (and am totally in awe of your memory!)

    Jackie – DC Sarah hit the nail on the head. Books by color works for us because we’re both extremely visual people. The only time I run into problems is when the spine is materially different from the front and back covers.

    Julie – I suspect they’re Japanese, but most sellers don’t know that and don’t describe them as such. I’ve found the best way to find the animal heads is to be as general as possible – search “ceramic head” on eBay and then narrow the search by category (there’s usually an “Animals” subgroup at left of the search results). Word to the wise – you will still find REALLY weird stuff when you do that search.

    Sarah – the mirror is from Ballard Designs. We got it on crazy sale several years ago.

    Julie K – that is so, so sweet of you to offer! We would love the key to the poster, but can we make it a trade? I’d be happy to do a return address stamp for you in return (I do light calligraphy work in my spare time – you can see work samples here: http://august27th.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-invitations-are-out/).

  19. Yanessa says:

    Love this! My husband and I will be moving to NYC in a couple of months and we love seeing how people get creative with tiny spaces!

  20. Susan says:

    I actually have one of those animal heads – the duck. It was a gift from my sister back when “country” was cool and I can’t bear to get rid of it. I still hang my kitchen towel on it , even in my modern kitchen. (I believe that was it’s original purpose.). Too funny! Also love the “family stationery”…. what a signature idea!

  21. Katie Bee says:

    that is the best family stationery :). dude…I wish my 600 square feet could look that great, but we’re in college-owned property and would lose our deposit for any changes. sigh.

  22. Carla says:

    Great use of space! I love the curtain next to the fridge, mind sharing your source?

  23. Meg says:

    Dangnabbit, there was one of those cow heads in my kitchen when I bought my house and I ended up giving it to Goodwill because I couldn’t make it work with my other things (and also because the orange eyes slightly freaked me out). Wish I could have offered it to someone here!

  24. Alison says:

    Love the color of your kitchen, we have a VERY similar shade in ours that our conservative design loving friends dont quite like so its nice to see someone else embracing the yellow! and we can feel your pain with horrible rental kitchens as well haha.

  25. amym says:

    Yay, Robin! Looks great.

    So happy to see your place here, you and Sam are a dream team!

  26. Maegan says:

    I love the animal collection! My grandmother has had a pig and a rabbit just like that in her kitchen for as long as I can remember. The rabbit’s red eyes always scared me as a child haha.

  27. Urban Sherp says:

    Thanks for the info on how to track down the animal heads –
    such a cool wall feature. Also impressed with your color
    coordinated books – who needs the dewey decimal system??

  28. Urban Sherp says:

    Did find some white ceramic animal heads at williams-sonoma
    home – a little larger and less fluffy, but thinking the rhino one
    would be fun:
    http://www.wshome.com/products/p172/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1|24|||1|||||||rhino&cm_src=SCH

  29. Robin says:

    Aww – thanks Amy! Carla: It’s a Marimekko pattern called
    “Paasky”. Most of the Marimekko fabrics in our home are designed by
    Maija Louekari. We like her work.

  30. Lisa says:

    My grandpa has a bunch of the white animal heads he’s picked up at the local thrift shop for a couple dollars a piece. He has them hanging above his shed. I love the idea of having them in the house clustered together.

  31. makeready says:

    I so appreciate how you walked us through each item with a full description of where it came from — and the odd bits of detail about each piece are heartwarming. Your home speaks to the power of personal design!

  32. Jay B. says:

    I have similarly narrow kitchen, 7′ gives you nearly no space to turn around and it is so crowded every time I throw a party. I don’t know why but everybody seems to need to take something from there at the same time. However I like, it’s somehow charming. I like paintings by Steve Keene a lot, I haven’t seen them in many houses, you’ve surprised me you have his works. They are so bubbly, they immediately brighten up the space.

  33. kris says:

    i love where i live, but i want to live here… so very awesome.

  34. desha says:

    LOVE the quirky animals & ear diagram. nice job!

  35. Steve says:

    A very lively and colorful house! People in this house must be very creative and imaginative. I like their style and taste. Hope to see more!

  36. Jim B. says:

    Wonderful sense of style that creatively blends comfort and fun. Kudos to Robin and Sam!

  37. Malisams says:

    I have one of the duck heads in our kitchen – I found him
    randomly at a thrift shop about a year ago and got it for my
    husband, who loves ducks, and because we have a couple of real
    ducks in the backyard. :) I just wish I could say they were nearly
    as charming or quiet as their ceramic counterparts…

  38. patti says:

    i adore the look of bookcases organised by colour….but i
    know i’d never be able to find anything again!

  39. So excited to see interesting small spaces… it gives me hope to keep working on my apt 586sqft! Thanks for the peak!

  40. I love, love this website. Saw today of the Nate’s show

  41. Cathryn Proctor says:

    I love the light blue colour you have placed the white animal heads on- mind sharing what paint/colour it is, please?

  42. Robin says:

    Hi Cathryn! It’s from Benjamin Moore – Beacon Gray. Glad you like. It’s my favorite color in the apt

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