Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: rachel been + ben brown

by Amy Azzarito

When Creative Director Rachel Been and MakeMeSustainable founder Ben Brown saw this apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, they instantly fell head over heels for the loft’s exposed pipes, brick walls and 14′ high ceilings — they even loved the huge industrial-sized heater. The couple’s design choices were intended to mimic that unfinished aesthetic. They built cage lights, used black pipes to create a coat rack and shoe shelves and brought in gray industrial metal bookshelves and lockers for storage. They set off these industrial elements by combining mid-century colors and pieces (the Arco Castiglioni lamp, the pop orange pillows and school chairs) with a rustic farm aesthetic (the dried plants, green mounted windows from a dairy farm and the wooden table). The result is an open, expansive space that still feels homey. Thanks, Rachel & Ben! — Amy Azzarito

Image above: We bought the combo of orange and green pillows from CB2 a few years ago to spice up our neutral couch. Last year, we purchased the “Atmosphere” poster from Brainstorm printshop based out of Philadelphia. We loved the typography, colors and concept of the entire triptych and bought the full set; since our previous pillows matched so perfectly with the “Earth” print, we decided to finish the scheme with the blue pillows. The table is a hand-me-down from Ben’s mother who is an architect and an incredible collector of beautiful furniture. It is entirely made of wood. I have an obsession with photographic coffee-table books and have a rotation going in those three spots with various books from our collection. At the time the image was taken, Platon’s Power, Tim Hetherington’s Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, and Elliot Erwitt’s Snaps were on the table.

Image above: This is our color-coordinated cabinet of curiosities adjacent to our desk. The green trunk, art deco lamp and vintage camera/bridges lithographs are from the Brooklyn Flea. We ordered the illuminated globe and the small hanging scale from eBay (which has an incredible mercantile, trades & factories section for buying vintage scales). The Rolleiflex camera sitting on the invisible bookshelf to the right was the camera my grandfather used as a crime-scene photographer in Las Vegas in the ’50s and my father used at Berkeley in the ’60s, while the one hanging on the wall is a felt replica from Etsy that my sister-in-law bought us for Christmas.

The rest of Rachel and Ben’s home tour continues after the jump!

Image above: Our space is about 1200 sq. ft. with 14 ft. ceilings, exposed brick, pipes and a very large skylight. We have a small patio in the back, but apart from the skylight and patio door, there are, surprisingly, no windows. When we first moved in, there was no built-in storage or closets in the apartment. Ben constructed a massive unit next to our bed, and we bought lockers and built a pipe rack for coats. We talked a lot about creating a division between our bedroom/study and the main living area, but decided to leave it open to make the apartment feel more expansive and have a better flow of light. We are currently attempting to build our hanging plants collection, but the water is proving to be quite a challenge since they are so high up.

Image above: The beautiful welding and wood table was given to us by Ben’s mother, who used this as a conference table at her architecture firm. The chairs were part of a school set from the Brooklyn Flea. We originally found these green windows on eBay from a vintage housewares shop in Scranton, PA. The individuals were so kind that they personally delivered the windows and a vintage door to us. The windows were sourced from an old dairy barn; we mounted them using pipes and placed the decal birds from BLIK to illustrate dimension, since we don’t actually have windows in the space. We built the hanging cage lights ourselves and mimicked the BLIK decals near the skylight.

Image above: Neither one of us likes fresh flowers, and our table decoration reflects that; we rotate dried flowers, branches and lavender in various mason jars and glass vases. We found the lantern from a small French antique shop in Brooklyn. The cheese box was a happy surprise we discovered inside of a crate we purchased as a plant holder. I letterpressed the coasters inside for a cheese-pairing party this April that we converted into an engagement party; I like to keep the reminders of that wonderful event. The massive hook we originally picked up from an antique shop with the thought of hanging plants from it, but people seem to love playing with it on the table.

Image above: Our bed is propped up on cinder blocks (great shoe storage). We wanted to keep the brick completely unadorned. There are a few mystery pieces of wood (the one embedded in the brick and the one on the right in the ceiling), and we sometimes postulate what they could have been used for. The apartment is above a paper factory, and we know that these apartments were once factories themselves, but we don’t have much additional information.

Image above: I shot the photograph of the artichoke for my previous job, and it was framed for a model apartment that Ben’s mother designed. The photograph was a housewarming gift shot by my dear friend, Carmen Winant.

Image above: Ben built the coat rack using black piping and placed a plank of wood above the pipe for shelving. We thought the vertical division of the bikes separated the main area from the entranceway.

Image above: I love colorful blazers and keep my collection close to the door. The hook is for my purses, including my mother’s briefcase from the 1970s. We are currently collecting blue typewriters for our wedding to use as centerpieces; we now have about six of them peppering the house. The image above the coats was shot in Iceland at the swimming pools by Carmen Winant and given to us as a gift.

Image above: We always wanted an Arco Castiglioni lamp but never lived in a space suitable for such a large piece. It serves as the main source of light in our entrance. The mat is a faux barn board — we originally had it under our coffee table, but felt that with it placed there, too many wood varieties were combined. We now use it as a space division. We wanted the TV mounted on the wall to blend in with our art, so we built a salon tableaux around it. The mirror is anchored in place by very heavy photography books.


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