sneak peek: jordan carlson

Before Jordan Carlson moved from Seattle to New York to pursue a graphic design degree at Parsons, she had a small business staging houses for the real estate market. She’d bring furnishings and accessories into empty spaces to create an environment that would allow buyers to envision themselves living there. Jordan’s put that skill for crafting a welcoming environment to good use in this tiny Williamsburg railroad apartment. It’s proved to be such a welcoming space that Jordan has a regular flow of visitors. Once her book club even met here without her! Thanks, Jordan & Tosh! And thanks to Erica Pelaccia for contributing the first two images! — Amy A.

Image above: I like to “mark” significant events or stages of life with artwork or other tangible treasures (this is something I picked up from my parents, who do this for most of their anniversaries). I immediately fell in love with this painting; there’s something about this intimate moment being blown up to such a large scale. I became friends with the artist, Christen Mattix, via a mutual friend, and a few years later, when I knew major life transitions were ahead, I contacted her to see if the painting was still available. It speaks to me of new beginnings and is a beautiful, daily reminder.

Image above: My finest DIY moment: the flat file coffee table. I’ve wanted a flat file for YEARS and have scoured Craigslist and second-hand places. With my move here, I finally took the plunge. I bought it at Two Jakes in Williamsburg and with my mom’s help, lugged it up to my third-floor apartment, stripped the paint and semi-sealed it myself, and got a friend to help me add the wheels. It’s functional, beautiful and, in my opinion, adds the perfect contrast to my blue velvet camelback couch.

CLICK HERE for more of Jordan’s Williamsburg apartment!

Image above: Speaking of the couch, that’s one of my favorite Craigslist finds: I purchased it for $100 from a twenty-something guy who decided it just wasn’t his style. Surprise. Before being in his possession, it sat unused in his parents’ formal living room for a couple decades and was in amazing condition. I couldn’t give him my check fast enough. My parents acquired the Turkish rug almost forty years ago, and as my mom likes to tell, my dad bartered with the seller, giving him a reel-to-reel tape deck in exchange (wonder if his kids still have that?!). It was a regular feature in my childhood home, and somehow I weaseled it away from them a decade ago. I love that it has a pattern but is still neutral.

Image above: This cart/table was salvaged from the backyard of my parents’ rental unit. The tenant left it there after moving, rusted and in bad shape; I asked if I could have it. My friend John tackled that puppy with steel wool and major elbow grease. Viola! Lampshade from Urban Outfitters.

Image above: I live in a railroad apartment, where one room leads to another. Therefore, there are doors that enter from the hall on both ends, one into the kitchen, and one into the space I use as a living room. When I was shown the apartment, the entry was into the kitchen, the other door, completely sealed shut. The front room was intended as the bedroom, the middle room as the common/living room, and then finally, the kitchen. I quickly realized I would switch these two rooms, as having a space where people could gather was a high value for my home, and that front room was more conducive to this set up. The landlord agreed to unseal the door. I love my set up. Sure, it means folks have to walk through my bedroom/office space, but I haven’t found that to be a problem.

Image above: Tosh claiming her space.

  1. Sarah says:

    i love williamsburg and love this sweet home! amazing job curating some new and DIY/vintage pieces. love.

  2. Angelia says:

    I love the large paintings in the first and fourth images, I have always wanted to paint “large,” thanks for the inspiration.

  3. I adore the light and the head room! Glorious.


  4. lesley says:

    love this! so pretty and restful.

  5. Swilly says:

    love your style and LOVE that file cabinet coffee table, too!

  6. Melanie says:

    I’m so inspired by your wonderful repurposed finds! Just further proof that with a little creativity you don’t have to spend tons of money to have a lovely, stylish and comfortable apartment!

  7. beautiful! i know a lot of people who think the railroad feature is a nightmare. I live myself in a railroad and love the perspective created by the length. Especially at night when every room is lit. And the high ceilings make up for the all the lack of width in the world!

  8. jodi says:

    what a wonderful space!

  9. Marlene says:

    Love this place, stylish, coy, creative. Great couch.

  10. reeve says:

    LOVE everything about this house!!

  11. What a lovely place! Beautiful nest painting in the first photo. The velvet camelback sofa is amazing~ So organized.

  12. Annette says:

    This is GORGEOUS! I really like the dark gray and yellow accents. I’m in love.

  13. Katherine says:

    Love, love, love that nest painting!

  14. Erica says:

    Could not love that painting and living room more. Love.

  15. what a gorgeous all the artwork and the classic furniture pieces!! have a lovely day! xx meenal

  16. judith b. says:

    Lovely flat: the bold nest painting paired with the perfect chair, the plan chest cum coffee table with its beautiful patina, the Penguin classics, the light, the stories about each piece, and so on. There’s nothing I don’t love here!

  17. marisa says:

    no wonder your home has turned into a gathering spot! it is so cozy, but super rad at the same time (a hard balance to achieve, if you ask me). beautiful, subtle good taste.

  18. Ellen says:

    Lovely artwork throughout. I’m also intrigued by the blanket hanging on the Eames lounge chair, who makes it?

  19. what a wonderful home! Books are such a smart, easy way to really personalize a space.

  20. Betsey says:

    Jordan….may I come over for tea? Such a beautiful artful space!!!

  21. Limes says:

    And it’s totally a finalist in Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest!

  22. Abby says:

    I would love to know where the bedframe is from!

  23. Suzanne says:

    You have some great art work, and isn’t it great to find inexpensive sources of beautiful furniture? Lovely all around.

  24. :) I like what they said about what they loved about their home. Great space.

  25. kelly says:

    I love the picture with the eggs. Want one for my home..

  26. Rosemary says:

    Can I ask how you stripped the flat file paint? It looks like it is metal, so is it different than stripping wood? I’m so inspired by that and have a flat file of my own that could use some sprucing up.

  27. kristina says:

    a beautiful home. And I love the cat which is overseeing the entire process.

  28. Amanda says:

    Oh my! I am in love with your taste in art! Do you have any other artist names to share?

  29. Fiona says:

    The first photo of the nest painting nearly brought me to tears! Maybe it can be attributed to watching the documentary The Business of Being Born yesterday…I don’t know, but I’m in love with that painting! :-)

  30. Lisa-Marie says:

    I love this house! I like all the white, and the bright colour pops throughout.

    You know, you have posted sneak peaks of two different places that have consolidated for me exactly what sort of styling I like in a house. Thank you!

  31. fontchica says:

    Yes, I too would like to know how to strip metal. I have a very similar flat file system that I would love to change the color of. I have heard you can take these items to AMCO and they will paint it for you.

  32. Jamie Rowe-Osborn says:

    Jordan, You apt. is a long way from your Nelson dorm room. Looks beautiful. It was a nice surprise to see you on Design Sponge.

  33. amy says:

    jordan! this looks amazing!!! i love it all.

  34. Nicswife says:

    Absolutely loooooove this!!!

  35. jordan says:

    wow! thanks so much folks for your kind words! let me try to answer some of the questions here…

    ELLEN :: i checked the blanket and didn’t find any tag on it. sorry. i bought it years ago on clearance at anthropologie. it’s light yet warm; i wrap up in it all the time.

    BETSEY :: is this the betsey of famed bbb? PLEASE come over for tea.

    ABBY :: i got the bedframe from ikea! at the time it came with only black drawers, so i painted them, but i think it now comes in white. it’s the mandal.

    ROSEMARY + FONTCHICA :: i used a paint + varnish remover (rock-miracle semi-paste to be exact; it was the brand my little hardware store carried); it has a similar consistency of rubber cement. apply it, leave it on for 10 minutes, and scrape it off with a putty knife. it just slides off. the stuff is POTENT. here and there i used steel wool. it’s amazingly easy and incredibly rewarding. i was advised to then coat is with 1) KRYLON acrylic CRYSTAL CLEAR satin finish and then 2) paste wax (i used a brand called staples also crystal clear). just follow the directions on the container of applying, allowing it to dry, and then polishing. because the flat file was already inside my apt, i skipped the krylon and only used the wax. it’s great. i probably should add a coat of wax to the top every 6 months or so. that’s not a big job though…

    AMANDA :: i do have some other artists i love. i’ll pull together a few names and write them in another comment…

    FIONA :: that’s how i felt. love that you had a similar reaction.

    JAMIE :: this cracks me up!! YA….it’s a long way alright! :) love seeing a familiar name in an unexpected place!! hope this finds you doing wonderfully!

    AMY :: super compliment coming from you lady. :)

    thanks folks…love d*s + am honored to be on here!!


  36. regina says:

    How amazing is that long narrow bedroom? I love how it creates a non-traditonal look!

  37. Emily says:

    Curious to know what the picture to the left of the desk is – is it a map?
    lovely home!

  38. I’m getting my BFA from MICA in 10 days and this gives me such hope for the many tiny apartments in my future!!

  39. Mandy Ford says:

    What a lovely home! Thanks so much for sharing!

  40. Love the flat file coffee table! Great use of space. Love the whole place!

  41. Micayla says:

    I love the small table under the painting in the first photo! I saw one like it years ago and have looked for one similar since.

  42. charlene says:

    beautiful!!! love how there isn’t a “style” here just lots of great peices that live so well together. great art too! i am ssssooo happy not to see any skulls or acrylic stag heads anywhere! lol!

  43. Megan says:


  44. jordan says:

    amanda :: sorry for the delayed response regarding artists.

    just discovered chelsea bently james. LOVE her work and hope that perhaps one day a piece of hers will grace my walls.

    the painting in my living room next to the eames lounge is by jen grabarczyk. she’s a dear friend and AMAZING artist, now working on her mfa in southern california.

    you can’t really make it out, but on the wall with all the pieces, the large one in the middle is a collage by ginger huebner, a friend from seattle who now lives in asheville, nc. the depths, textures, colors of her work is fantastic.

    christen, who painted the nest in my living room, has an etsy site as well:

    i’ve admired seattle artist, molly magai’s urban scenes:

    and love the photography of friends erica pelaccia (link in the article) and brooke orred fitts. besides being amazing photgraphers for hire, they both have images i’d love to have in my home.

    emily, the piece next to my desk is by seattle arist wanda batdorf. it’s a drawing of countless little organic shapes with two inked with red.

    i’m always on the look out for pieces that i resonate with. i recently joined pinterest, under the name APT 3R, and have a board titled PICTURE HOOK, where i will continue to catalog artists i discover and love. i only have a handful on there now, a few who i just mentioned, but feel free to find me on there if you’re interested.

    and just to make this response a bit longer….

    charlene, you nailed my general design approach. although i clearly have leanings i have the philosophy that if i love it, it will work. :)

    thanks again everyone, for your encouraging words.


  45. Shield says:

    This is going to be a huge inspiration when decorating the railroad of my dreams :). I adore the Penguin classics series.


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