interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: shayna kulik + justin kalifowitz

by anne

Downtown couple Shayna Kulik and Justin Kalifowitz merge their love of music, deign and travel in Manhattan’s West Village. They moved into this one-bedroom apartment in a former 19th-century paper mill turned pickle factory (and later a co-op) three years ago when they gut-renovated the place to expose hidden details and add their own personal touches. Shayna works from home part time where she runs Pattern Pulp, a leading authority on emerging trends in print and pattern design, in addition to running her own consultancy providing design and trend services for a range of brands. Meanwhile, Justin brings the audio element to their home as president of Downtown Music Publishing and co-founder of Songtrust, an online rights management platform for emerging songwriters and artists. Thanks, Shayna and Justin, and a special thanks to Bridget Fleming of Downtown from Behind for the photos! – Anne

Image above: Our bedroom: We’ve mixed walnut wood with red, white and lavender accents. There’s art throughout — I painted the piece above the bed my senior year in high school. It’s a scene from Providence, RI. The skull and cross bones made from female silhouettes is a print by my dear friend Megan Hebert, an Australian artist now living in Reykjavik. The lamp is from West Elm, the bed frame from Room & Board, the bedspread from WeSC and the nightstand from Wonk.

Image above: I work from home about half of the time, so it was important to have a small workstation. Since we’re short on room, it sits in the bedroom beside the closet. I’m most proud of the mood board I made to fit the dimensions between the Wonk shelf and desk. The attached art is ever evolving; the only thing that’s stationary is Matt W. Moore’s calendar that will be here through December.

See more of Shayna and Justin’s NYC home!

Image above: Our living room is filled from top to bottom with graphic prints. Paired with white built-ins and dark wooden floors; it’s a nice balance of masculine and feminine. The pillow was a wedding gift from a British friend of ours. Justin is in London for work every other month, so it’s only fitting we pay homage to the UK. The chair is from Restoration Hardware, and the black and white photos are all patterns and textures I’ve collected from various trips and outings.

Image above: I often find myself working at the kitchen table. We found this incredible piece of mango wood in Greenpoint at From the Source. The Eames chairs were an online steal — we got them from Etsy. The teal portrait painting in the background was a gift I made for Justin for his 25th birthday. The pink dot painting I made experimenting with an eyedropper.

Image above: During my four years in college, I worked in an art gallery and am a stickler for having art up at all times.  This is a collection of works I’ve both made and found from various travels. The cityscape is a Julia Rothman print that I bought when we decided to move to Jane Street, and the hair print is a history of British rockstars. I found the poster for $6 in an odds and ends store in London. The vertical portrait was made by a friend of Justin’s while he was in LA visiting a recording studio. I love the message — it reads, “You must have things that you care about, otherwise you are empty.” The Woodard chair was a rusty find in Williamsburg. I had it scraped and repainted black.

Image above: Our front hallway: We had built-ins made for the front hallway — both to help house our books and to help hide miscellaneous items. It includes masks from India and Peru, John Derian bird plates, a picture frame from Franc Franc in Tokyo, postcards by Nara Nishitomo, a vintage camera, a starfish Justin found off the ocean floor when he was ten and a $1 painting I bought in Luang Prabang, Lao.

Image above: Our living room window sill: A colleague from London brought this Muji cityscape as a gift. We added mirrors to the interiors of our windowsills to add reflected light to our apartment.

Image above: Our bedroom: In a previous life, these pillows were part of a kimono Justin brought back for me on his first trip to Japan. The fabric was a bit stiff, so I asked his mother to convert them into pillows. The crochet airplane is from one of my favorite home stores in Paris, Bensimon.

Image above: When redoing our kitchen, we kept to a strict budget and simply painted the cabinet surfaces black and added white subway tiling to the back wall and floor. The red animal scrubber is from the RISD gift shop and matches our red ceiling.

Image above: In our bedroom we have a built-in bookshelf to house my design library and Justin’s travel and history books.

Image above: Living room: We debated what would go above the couch for weeks and finally decided to convert our wine rack into a horizontal shelf. The art that sits above it has accumulated over time from various projects and trips.

Image above: Living room: Beside our leather chair sits this West Elm mirrored side table. Atop it is a map book from Melbourne, Australia, shells from various beaches and a Facebook coaster I really love. A friend of mine is a designer there and once mentioned that they get to play around with a cool print shop machine they recently purchased for the office. This was made in preparation for SXSWi — I love that it’s tangible and a departure from what we’re used to seeing from Facebook.

Image above:
Bathroom: We have plants and succulents throughout the apartment, and this little guy has a mohawk thanks to the artwork of my good friend, Lisa Toff. It sits beside our cotton swabs.

Image above: Living room: This pixelated Louis Quatorze weekend bag is one of my favorite items in the apartment. I found it online at YOOX after spotting it in a Paris window display.

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  • Of late, it seems to me that most of the spaces featured are similar: white-ish rooms, an eames chair or two, random art patterned specifically on the wall.

    I want to see varied houses from regular people, with regular connections and budgets that aren’t necessarily in design or art fields of one another, but that just have wonderful, unusual, or even ridiculously wacky taste. IT people, or secretaries that don’t make prints to sell on etsy in their spare time.

    Don’t get me wrong, this space is attractive, but I feel like I just saw it. I love you, Design Sponge, but you know what they say about familiarity…

  • what an awesome, thoughtful space. they have collected so many interesting objects from around the globe and incorporated them into their space while managing to avoid a cluttered look. bravo!

  • So interesting the commenter magda really echoes my sentiment. The other night I went back in the DS archives and found myself missing some of the more “regular” spaces that made me fall in love with the sneek peaks. I also like the space featured but I do feel the homogeneity lately.

  • That was well said, Magda! I agree. These homes are beautiful, but part of me sighs when I see another white room and mid-century chair.

    I dig what you do and am truly inspired by what I see on here, but I’d love to see the width and depth and breadth of design represented.

  • I agree… although I’m loving the spaces featured- they’re right up my alley style wise, the sneak peeks have been pretty similar. I do love this space though. :-)

  • so nice to see a fmailiar face on these pages! shayna has a wonderful eye and her sensibilties resonate through her space.

  • i completely agree. i am definitely growing tired of seeing white walls, mid century furniture, eames chairs, etc. (all that stuff is really great, but there has really been a lot of it.) i’d like to see homes that look like real people live in them, or “regular” as the other commenter said.

  • I concur with the quotes about the same-yness of some of these spaces and the contributors all being from a similar (design area) background and showing the same aesthetic. It would be great to see more breath and depth from the interiors as well as the owners’ backgrounds. I am in danger of having a ‘designsponge house’, not a bad thing but I would like more stimulus and fresh change. I love mid century but there is a lot more out there…just need to know what that is exactly!

  • And also some more budget friendly spaces (or information on the cost of these spaces to see if they could be a reality for me). One of the amazing double sneak peeks last week that featured two homes from the same owner just made me think ‘how much did this cost!’

  • i kind of don’t agree with some of the comments above. there are SO MANY wonderful original pieces in this home. i absolutely love an art-filled home and this place is gorgeous.

  • I honestly wouldn’t know an eames chair if it bit me on the ass. I, too, am a little weary of mid century modern. I’d love to see more old sofas that are lovingly worn, tea cup collections, and laundry baskets. Show the rooms of real women, please–I can get white washed perfection from Martha Stewart.

  • I have a lot of white walls and feel that I am a real person, and I think this space is absolutely lovely. Still, variety is the spice of life. Maybe there should be a ‘show your favorite room’ sneak peek day, where readers, who don’t have a whole house full of pics to share, but want to show their best design work, can contribute. Maybe that goes under the ‘before and after’ heading.

  • it may be white with a lot of mid-century modern, but it’s the details that make this place special. and the attention to every one. here are a collection of things, many sentimental. many old, many new, that beautifully make up the space and make it an original. one additional note is that it is not only something folks with a lot of money can create. it’s all how you find things and put them together. well-done, shayna.

  • I love this home! It is such an inspiration to me because I have traveled to so many places and I always bring back textiles, art, or kitchen ware for my home and then I have no idea how to display it because I don’t like clutter and I’m not a big fan of kitsch. Your home has beautifully incorporated modern sensibilities with exotic touches. Wonderful job! (P.S. Don’t listen to the white wall haters above :)

  • I do agree .. the wall colors may be the same, and eames may be same but each house is different because its the touch of the owner that makes it special… with their memories and things they have collected over years…. good work!

  • Thanks guys. It’s actually funny, as this is the first apartment I’ve lived in where I haven’t painted yellow stripes or something kooky on the walls. I think it has something to do with living with a partner and merging creative sensibilities. That said, I’ve fought to keep my pink dots on the wall :)

    Trace- the desk & shelf are from Wonk in Brooklyn. They’re wonderful for small spaces and will work with you and any set of dimensions.

  • It’s all about the art and design — white walls, good lighting, mirrors facilitate that focus. Awesome job, Shayna!

  • I have to wonder if some of the white wall overload is a function of featuring rentals, where tenants often don’t have the ability to change wall color.

  • I love many elements of this home. I would love to know more about the black and white rug under the sofa.

  • Hi Guys

    I just wanted to check in and respond to a few things.

    I always appreciate feedback and am glad to know some of you are open to (and looking for) slightly more colorful or “kooky” homes. We’ve certainly run homes like that before, but I like to offer a range and this style of more sophisticated minimalism isn’t something we’ve actually done a lot of, statistically. But I hear your requests for fewer white walls and we’ll definitely keep our eyes peeled for homes that include color as well as those that make white walls work (like this home).

    I don’t like including prices of objects in people’s homes for a few reasons:

    1. Most people don’t like sharing information like that. It’s hard enough to share your home with close to 100,000 people online, so having them judge your buying decisions adds another layer of critique that I understand if most people aren’t open to.

    2. My philosophy with design*sponge has never been to have people replicate exact looks to a T. I think it’s important to use homes as a jumping off point. If you can’t afford the exact sofa someone has, that shouldn’t be a deterrent from finding a way to bring the same color palette or mood to a room of you own. When sites hand down specifics about price and individual pieces (though we do try to include sourcing as much as often) I feel like people feel pressured to use the same pieces. And cookie-cutter replicas are the last thing I want to see people do. I don’t make a lot of money and it never bothers me to see pieces or rooms full of things I can’t afford- I honestly try to get to the heart of what I like about something and find a way to do that in my own way.

    That idea of making something your own, on your own budget, is what D*S is about in a broader sense. It’s the reason we have DIY columns and before & after projects- I hope that you’ll see the connection between these homes and those skills we share and find a way to use those DIY ideas to interpret these homes in your own way. D*S isn’t a catalog and I really don’t want people to feel like they need to go into someone’s home and buy the same things they did.

    In terms of subjects for the home tours, we actually showcase a wide range of people (musicians, artists, writers, store-owners, etc). But we do try to focus on the arts community because, well, this is a design site. I try to shape everything through that lens because it’s the community that inspires me to do what I do every day. I love seeing the spaces people create in, so I want to continue to focus on that community as much as possible. That said, if you look through the archives you’ll see there are plenty of non-artists in there.


  • Good evening all!

    I don’t think the issue is so much the white walls or the Eames chairs or whether or not this home was lovely or not or what sort of person this home belongs to. In the past few months, there seem to have been many homes that are all more or less exactly the same.

    Personally, I favour the sneak peaks because many people featured here (ie designers) have ‘good taste’, flair, and some good measure of originality that is generally reflected in their homes. These are things that I lack, but can appreciate or at least aspire to. I don’t think that financial considerations should be catered to – home design is clearly more of a priority to some people than to others and budgets are accorded respectively.

    I love the pseudo scandinavian/ japanese/ midcenturyesque /ramshackle-y/purified looks of a majority of the homes featured. But I have to agree with Magda – ‘Trop c’est comme pas assez’. Looking through the last few months, I can’t help but wonder : haven’t they posted this one already?

  • Hi Liz, unfortunately the bag seems to be sold out…I ended up getting it a season late off the yoox site. I’m crazy about that pattern…

    Sarah: I took a gamble on this rug and ordered it off One Kings Lane…luckily it was a perfect fit. It’s from NuLoom

    Perhaps it’s because I worked in an art gallery for four years, but I don’t have a problem with white walls particularly since we added moulding at the ceiling. It also doesn’t hurt when you live on the south side of the street (read, less direct sunlight), as it really brightens up the space when paired with mirrors, ambient lighting and sharp contrasts.

  • I love this space! So many objects that tell us a little something about the occupants. I live the repurposed wine rack.

    I don’t quite understand the comments about the price levels. A lamp from west elm, an art print gifted by a friend, a painting bought for a dollar? A DIY mood board, a painting she did for her husband? Sure she had some other nice pieces from restoration hardware and the eames chairs but I saw it as a high low mix.

  • My living room is beachside blue with an added purple wall for constrast….white is my accent. I have to live with color but love the freshness white gives the artwork. I’m an artist and sometimes I can’t hang my own things because my paintings don’t match my walls…..

  • Oh how I adore this home! Feeling torn between being inspired and defeated! (I will get there one day…) especially love the large framed art wall.

  • I like seeing what other people choose for art in their space and how they install it. Even if the spaces are similar, I seem to always see something that inspires me or gives me an idea of how to use something I already have. Inspriation can be found most anywhere. Having said that, I really like the white desk chair. Shayna, were did you get it?

  • Thanks so much Mustang- I got the chair at West Elm…though I have to be honest, it hasn’t worn as well as I would have hoped…the finish is peeling off the arms and the screws seem to fall out of the bottom every few weeks…

  • Sadly, I have to agree with Magda. I do love these homes, but the aesthetic has become so ubiquitous these days. It would be nice to see something a little different and certainly there are a lot of artists — particularly fine artists (painters and sculptors) — who don’t make much money but who have done something interesting with their spaces nonetheless…. all without owning an Eames chair.

    • pam

      yes, there certainly are. and we’ve featured many, many of them here. please feel free to browse through our archives by style so you can check out more eclectic homes.


  • I enjoyed this space but I’m bummed out that Magda and others have used this sneak peak to make a complaint about their grievances that are totally unrelated to the owner of this home….certainly taking away from her feature on D*S and so rude!

  • Carmen, I hear you but where else can one start this conversation? I pretty much agree with Magda, despite Grace’s protestations to the contrary: ramshackle, colorful, cluttered & worn is NOT a look I see here much, and I miss it! You are right, it’s hard to say that without taking away from this *wonderful* Sneak Peek. But it’s a fair critique of the series overall!

  • Thanks for sharing these photos, it’s really great that people are kind enough to open up their homes to complete strangers.

    I love the lightness and playfulness of this apartment. There are so many beautiful collectibles and it looks like Shayna has a great eye for curating spaces. It’s also great to see what inspires someone who is the creative mind behind Pattern Pulp, my favorite blog.

  • Amy, maybe through their FB or twitter feed or their “contact” link?? I’m not sure and I’m not trying to be controversial I just can’t imagine having my home featured on this amazing little gem of a site and the first comment is Magdas?? Idk…maybe it’s just me…..

    Being that art/design is subjective and we all have our own likes/dislikes, I take this site for what it is, and try to zone in on what I can pull from each home that I might be able to incorporate into my own design/style. I tend to look at each photo separately, study it and then move on to the next photo. So, yes…I have seen some of the same thing but I don’t focus on that, this is a great site and there is something in each home that’s special and interesting.

  • Hi there. I wanted to clarify a couple of things regarding my initial comment.

    First, I most certainly do not feel that I put this space down. It’s quite attractive and i did say that earlier. Shayna, your home is lovely, and I apologize if my comment came off as negative towards it. Perhaps I should have specifically addressed the comment to Grace in order to make that clear.

    My point was that i felt that there was a good deal of “sameness” as of late, not that the spaces aren’t beautiful. I feel that lately there has been a lot of the same ideas in homes. Frankly, I’ve become bored with them, although I wasn’t so blunt, earlier.

    As a professional artist, I appreciate that D*S (or specifically you, Grace) has focused on the art community, however personally I would appreciate a more varied array of people with wonderful design sense. I understand that in the archives I can find more variety, but my point was that RECENTLY posts seemed to be the ones that seemed that were similar.

    Also, I want to make it abundantly clear that in general, I love D*S and have spent an enormous amount of time digging through the archives staring at rooms, before and afters, and DIY stuff. My comment about spaces was just that, a comment regarding my personal thoughts and opinions.

  • I think this place looks great – it’s not about the costs of items, it’s about the small details that make a house feel like a home. You also don’t need to have a lot of money to do these – paint and second hand items can easily achieve this. As Grace says – she doesn’t want people to try to do carbon copies of the houses, but just draw inspiration from them and to generate creative ideas!
    Great work Shayna and DS team!

  • Wow! I never realized how much I, and I dare say, we, need to really appreciate each other, and also our own homes, cultures, and ways of life. I am from the Rocky Mountains, like being outside much more than in,love bombing down a canyon on my bike at 40mph, and sometimes sacrifice a perfect visual space for time spent in the canyon: a perfectly pristine and yet dirty environment I didn’t have to spend a dime or a minute on! So, I am sitting in a cluttered office, originally researching/ seeking inspiration on how to make a 40’s glam shot of my grandmother “sing” in my home. What I now know for a fact is: this is my decision, and I have all the inspiration I need: my grandmother, my home, my mountains! Thanks everyone, for helping my epiphany move along much quicker than it could have! To each her own, and love d*s for its ability to make me reach. Thank you, Grace.

  • Shayna, I LOVE your home. Everything feels so personal, thoughtful and balanced. You had me at the kimono pillows, and what a great collection of art! I actually just painted all my walls white in my new apartment. It feels fresh and light, and I think white walls are the best way to showcase art (and patterns!).

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