Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: ariele alasko and isaiah palmer

by Amy Azzarito

Grace and I discovered Ariele Alasko’s work through Jennifer Causey’s fantastic The Makers Project. Ariele lives close to our Greenpoint office, so one morning before work, Grace stopped by to meet Ariele and see her work. Grace fell head over heels for Ariele’s home, which she shares with Isaiah Palmer, a 3D visual effects artist and super handy guy. So we asked Jennifer to pay Ariele another visit to capture the details that make Ariele and Isaiah’s home so special. I think we responded to Ariele’s home because it is our favorite type of space to feature in sneak peeks: though it’s a small rental, Ariele has created a refuge from city life and a place to work on her dreams. I love that she didn’t wait to find the perfect space before creating the life she wanted to live. Thanks, Ariele and Isaiah! And thanks to Jennifer Causey of The Makers Project for the lovely photos. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: The mantel in our living room is always changing, much like the coffee table rotation we have going on. This is also a place where I store tabletops before they get shipped out. To me, they are art first and furniture second, so I rather enjoy them propped up against a wall. The mountain goat head is actually not taxidermy at all, but rather something I made by carving foam and covering it with vintage rabbit fur; the horns and nose are made from wax and black pigment. The portrait was a $5 junk store find, the ceramic horse I made years ago, and the rusted metal pieces are happy beach discoveries.

Image above: The old living room carpet I bought in California for $100, and it came with a $1300 price tag tucked inside the folds — amazing! The chair was the first piece of real furniture I ever bought in New York, and the window partition is my half attempt at keeping sawdust at bay from my woodshop that is directly behind it. In front of that, if you can see, is an old postal stool that they decided to toss to the curb. Thanks post office!

More of Ariele and Isaiah’s home after the jump . . .

Image above: The oil portrait was painted in 1941 by a friend’s grandmother named Florence — such a classic name! The glass buoys were given to me by another friend whose grandfather collected them on the beach during (I believe) World War I. The lamp I built myself from old scrap metal parts collected all over Brooklyn, and likewise I built the cabinet, complete with a must in my book: turquoise triangle inlay.

Image above: The art hanging here is another one of my eucalyptus leaf pieces. All these little, round, beautiful red leaves were collected for me by my step-grandmother, who has a tree in her backyard in California. Every day she would sweep her patio and put them in a box, then send them to me here in Brooklyn, so I call this our collaboration. The red lamp I built out of old dumbbell parts and made the shade from vintage sewing patterns. The turquoise trunk was an incredible street find, somewhere deep in the heart of Bed-Stuy, and I lugged it about 15 blocks to get it home!

Image above: My shop is, yes, right in the middle of our apartment. It wasn’t intended to get this crazy, but I just kept building more stuff and buying more tools. It eventually grew into (almost) a fully functioning wood-shop — minus the spaciousness that would really make it perfect, but I do what I can. My boyfriend is highly accommodating about all the racket I make, but I pretty much find myself apologizing for all the sawdust every day anyway! Those two green hanging lamps have a lovely story, too: they were found by my electrician (when I was building the restaurant in CA) in an abandoned burnt-out water tower. They had survived a fire that was set by arson and were hanging there totally charred and black. He knew I’d love them anyway, and there are seven others that are wired up and lovely hanging in il vecchio. But I had to save these two for myself! The huge floor lamp on the right side is made out of metal, and Isaiah built it by hand when we were both in college. He welded and bolted it all, and it’s totally moveable, with an extended radius of 10 feet. I use it all the time for my workshop! He’s quite an exceptionally handy guy; he just leaves all the fix-it jobs and building up to me, simply because he knows I love it so much. So sweet of him!

Image above: That wall in the background is an old sculpture I created while still in college; it was essentially my thesis. It took me two months to make and is comprised of thousands of eucalyptus leaves that were collected by my family in California. Yes, they were breaking their backs for me out of the kindness of their hearts and shipping them here in giant boxes! I had to cut the piece in half to get it into the apartment after the show was over, and now it pretty much acts as a backdrop to all my tools and shenanigans, but I adore it! (Oh, and yes indeed, it used to smell great, but now the leaves are so old they have lost all their scent.)

Image above: I made the chandelier entirely of paper, namely vintage sewing patterns and the pages of my favorite book that was falling apart. The porcelain-topped table was my boyfriend’s great-grandmother’s — she used it for flower cutting. All the lamps visible are also built by me.

Image above: The island in the kitchen is one of the first things my boyfriend and I built together when we moved in; there was no counter space before that! Ridiculous. There are old wooden crates underneath it that we use as drawers, but it’s purely functional and I keep intending to update it (and by that I mean, make prettier). We love to cook and pretty much need to extend the counter space even more! Those metal signs we found in the trash, and you can see them every now and then hanging on streets that were “beautified” and won the sign as a prize, but these two are old! They are still making and awarding the signs to this day.

Image above: My favorite piece of furniture in our bedroom is that old wooden flat-file. I found it on Craigslist for 40 bucks, long before I had a car, and carried it all the way from Bay Ridge on the subway. Not fun — but worth it! I cut those little colored flags out of free Martha Stewart paint chip samples from Home Depot (I was feeling very crafty!), and the art behind it was drawn in 1940, clearly while in art school because, written in the corner in huge red pencil, is a B+; even though I totally would have given it an A, it somehow makes it better. Below that is a collage I did years ago on found metal, and below that is a bronze, unfinished horse sculpture I cast using the “lost wax” technique, also years ago. The striped sheets are cheap/lucky Marshall’s finds, and the lamp was $3 at a garage sale.

Image above: I was feeling romantic and sentimental for our six-year anniversary, so I decided to write an oversized love note in chalk.

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  • I love how their collection of rustic items still looks so nice and tidy. Sometimes you can get a real “dusty second hand” shop feel, but this looks great!

  • love love love it!!! looking at this fantastic home-workshop just makes me want to go (or stay at home) and DO things!!! although the neighbours would go crazy if i was to use a saw in here …

  • A super neat sneak peek. I find “I built this” much more interesting than, say, “I picked this up in Marrakech.”

  • So much talent…these two are really living the dream! What a beautiful and inspiring home.

  • Amazed and inspired by a functional wood shop tucked into the corner of a living room. Awesome!

  • Live this so much! My husband and I are moving into a bigger place so I can expand my woodshop a bit. So wonderful to see a place with so much character and another female woodworker!
    Makes my day.
    Thank you!

  • I love getting a glimpse of artists’ living/work spaces. This peek into Ariele and Isaiah’s home is one of my favorites. I was captivated by the stories and details of each piece, where they came from, why they are meaningful to her, that she built or created them herself. I adore her workshop/studio and the eucalyptus leaf wall is amazing!

  • this is probably my hands-down favorite home sneak peak. it captures everything i think a home should be – comfortable, filled with memories, and a story behind everything that serves both function and form. seriously hard for me to single out just one thing i love most!

  • “I love that she didn’t wait to find the perfect space before creating the life she wanted to live.” – this sums it up perfectly, and I agree! One of my favorite sneak peeks in a long while.

  • Ok, LOVE this home and love this gal! So incredibly talented (both of them) and just in her style of writing, I can hear her large heart and sweetness. So much warmth and love within and how much do I love that giant eucalyptus sculpture? and all the things she hauled home on the subway…a girl after my own heart. Thanks for sharing this!

  • oh my, I love that place! so many details and vintage wooden furniture and windows…lovely. I adore the chair from NY and the wall is epic!

  • How lovely the place and how talented the artist. Just be careful about the sawdust, please. A lot of salvaged materials likely have toxic glues in them. If a space isn’t well-ventilated, then we are putting ourselves and loved ones at risk. The story of 60’s artist Eva Hesse should be a cautionary tale for us all.

  • I love reading her blog and am so glad y’all did a house tour. I so wish I could be as talented as her.

  • This home is amazing! I love the material used, it truly tells the story of the people that live inside these walls. I have a quick question, How do you get around zoning laws with the woodshop in your home? I refinish/rehab/paint furniture as a side job and recently came across zoning issues in Chicago, just curious about how other people use their home as their work space when using various chemicals and tools.

  • Fantastic home. I love that it is quintessentially theirs, creatively made from things they found, and have meaning for them. I especially loved the sneak peak of Ariele’s studio, as I am in the process of putting mine together in our new home.

    Having said that, I worry about the OH & S of having your studio in the middle of your house …

  • I LOVE the Southwestern flavor in this home – it’s a combination of weathered items and rustic elements that unify nicely. It’s so vibrant and that quote – “What I love most about my home is that we made it together” – is so adorable!!

  • Lordy! Well, that’s it for me… you can shut down the “sneak peek” program now because this one surely takes the cake! I would never have thought one could integrate a woodshop into a small Brooklyn apartment, but there it is, and it sure looks fine! As does everything else. What a magnificently talented duo; it was a treat to get to know you through your home. Thanks for the tour!

  • A wonderful & creative home.

    Coming from the home of the eucalyptus – Australia – I am fascinated by the art works using gum (eucalypt) leaves. What is the base they are on? How were they attached?

  • What an inspiring woman and home! She is just bursting with creativity and perfectly executed style.

  • Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed everything you’ve shared here and on Brooklyn to West. However, I’m always left feeling slightly guilty that all I’ve built from lath is giant bon fires. Not too guilty, though. After a long day of renovating it was nice to kick back with a beer and burn things. Ah, country life.

  • You have a great HOME. You have a ton of talent and are very creative, and I also want to give some credit to your boyfriend. :-) Thanks you for sharing your home and stories with us.

  • I really just think she’s my favorite person EVER! I love the way her home and work atheistic and spaces spill over into one another. So lovely!

  • I love a home that has so many stories – it’s what every “home” should have. Gorgeous woman, amazing home, seemingly limitless talent. Awesome.

  • It’s a great space and the eucalyptus wall is amazing!
    I’m interested to know if the leaves were treated with anything before they were attached?
    I wanted to make a collage with gingko leaves from the trees along Midosuji in Osaka as a souvenir but I was worried that they’d rot (and that I’d get in trouble from customs).

  • Ariele has a talent to make things from anything – I am deeply impressed by her creations and how she puts everything together. The art selection and the self-made lamps – totally captivating! Thank you for sharing this incredibly home tour! And it is incredibly that Ariele managed to crate it in rented place, using what she had! Super!

  • the wall of eucalyptus leaves is stunning. a dream workshop. if I ever stop renting I hope build something like that..

  • WOW, I am completely inspired to research woodworking and find some classes to take. I am blown away by Ariele’s beautiful work, and the home she lives in.

  • THis is my favorite D*S sneak peek ever! Ariele you are so amazing and inspiring. I agree most with Deepa and Melissa’s comments above. Thank you! I will be following your blog!

  • I incorporate old sewing patterns and found papers into my art by using a foam brush or just an old paintbrush to apply a thin layer of matte gel medium (by Liquitex, can purchase in any art supply store) to strenghten/seal the papers. You would lose the scent, but I imagine it would work with leaves too. hmm… :)

  • It’s amazing what one discovers behind closed doors….This home was a sweet treat for the eyes, thanks for sharing with us.

  • I think what a few people are over looking when they comment on say using recycled wood/fumes is that she is a professional wood working artist – listen to her words “my electrician”, when I was in school…look at her work she is freaking talented and clearly knows what she is doing!
    When I saw the first picture I thought what is with the new obsession of dead animal heads on the walls – well I take it all back as this mountain goat is one that she made, and the dead fur is wonderfully recycled!
    Yup this is a really really wonderful tour of how a home is made!

  • What a beautiful home!! I especially love the chandelier over the table. I’ve been dying to see her home after you featured her headboard the other week.

  • Thank you everybody for your lovely and inspiring comments! To answer a few questions, hopefully my shop in here is temporary and I will be moving to an ACTUAL studio in a bit, so I’m not dealing with zoning laws. I am unsure of that answer. And yes, I do try to be careful of sawdust, because again, this is totally not an ideal set-up! Even though it looks cool :) And the eucalyptus leaves are attached with glue onto canvas to it rolls up {sort of!}. Lastly, the headboards that were posted about a while ago are all sold and I didn’t end up keeping one for myself! I’m taking orders for them currently, but I’m hoping that eventually I’ll have time to make one for keeps! Thanks again, you all made me quite happy.

  • Great blog and post! Very inspiring! I too love to do arts and crafts at home. Love the mantel piece and what a great place to showcase it!

  • Ooohhh, you had me at Eucalyptus! *hehe*

    This space absolutely speaks to me ~ the old wood, the persian carpet on the floor, lots of white, splashes of colour, rustic & full of character….and that Eucalyptus art in the studio. *sigh*

    I am friends with some dear folks up in beautiful Hope, BC Canada. A family of artists; this place reminds me of visiting with them. Mum is a potter, dad is an inventor (for real), daughter #1 is a crochet-queen on Etsy and daughter #2 is a tile maker/designer. They have a *WONDERFUL* place, quite like this set into the shadow of the snow-capped mountains.

    Much like a place such as this one above, I get a ‘charge’ of electricity: pure Creativity when I go and visit them. It’s like getting my batteries charged up again. In fact, it’s been a while…..lol…..

    Anyways, I enjoy these peaks into Creative Spaces SO MUCH! Thank you :o)


  • God, I love this girl…..a workshop smack dab in the middle….well, a girl’s gotta
    have what a girl’s gotta have….so much creativity…really, one
    of the best sneak peeks I have seen here with a great story behind each object.
    And the fact that she did all this in a rental makes it even more special. And
    the fact that she just needs to create no matter = inspiring.

  • Arielle, where is this amazing rental in Greenpoint, I love the original details of the fireplace! I am a fellow Brooklynite.

  • Best ever sneak peek!! So creative so amazing!!! gorgeous! Oh wow!!!
    Like Amy said you have not waited to create your dream!!
    you inspire us all!!!

  • My girl crush on Ariele grows! The previous Design Sponge post had me smitten, but now I’m beyond head over heels. The apartment is so elegantly filled with creativity. Also, after one rather traumatizing furniture project, I’m afraid I am not much of a handy person, so her built projects impress me all the more! I previously thought the woodshop wall was made from bent lam wood, but eucalyptus leaves!?!? So beautiful! I never would have guessed her shop was smack dab in the middle of a Brooklyn apartment! Amazing Sneak Peek! Can’t wait to see what she makes next!

  • i admire the clever use of space, the tidiness and cleanness of the place knowing what must be going on in the wood shop!!! inspiring. Truly. New York somehow brings the smart out of you, especially when it comes to dealing with space. Love it! Thanks.

  • So beautiful and inspiring! I have never posted a comment before, but everything about this home is amazing. The eucalyptus wall is mesmerizing. What a brilliant woman!

  • i love her work, not surprised her home is as gorgeous as her product. so creative, textural and natural///// i loved taking a peak!

  • Love the way you repurpose things. I like to that, too, but I don’t have the artistic talent you have.

  • Ariele has twenty times the talent I wish I had, and the commitment! I love your soul filled home and it was a pleasure to meet you and watch your journey west :) I’m getting out to il vecchio soon, can’t wait!

  • Ohhhhhh YES! Ariele’s work and Jennifer’s photography are a truly inspiring combination! My brain is fizzing with inspiration, and my heart is singing with joy! Great Sneak Peek – the bestest! Katie. xxx

  • Hi there, I am inspired by your juxtaposition of wonderful, soulful objects and images!
    Nice work coming out of you – Keep that place growing and I think th woodshop inside the house…off the living room is just right. It worked for us in the firest passive solar home we built in the 70’s. Celbrating Artful Living, Diane Ericson (dianeericson.com on facebook)

  • This is exactly what I envision my house to look. My mother who passed away a year ago was a woodworker. She would have loved the work station in the middle of the house. Perfect!