Rachel Howe has lived in this Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment for almost three years. While she had gotten somewhat comfortable living in railroad-style apartments found throughout Brooklyn, the layout of her current apartment feels much better. It reminds her of the old house she grew up in, with its idiosyncratic features (lots of small rooms) and historic details such as the arched doorways, moldings and crystal doorknobs. One of her favorite things about her home is the large and versatile living room space. Rachel has used this room for everything from yoga classes and full moon ceremonies to craft nights and dinner parties. About 9 months ago, Rachel quit her day job to focus full time on her ceramics business, called Small Spells. She sells her work through her website and at several boutiques around the country, at Jumelle in Brooklyn, Little Paper Planes in San Francisco and Otherwild in Los Angeles to name a few. Thank you, Rachel! -Shannon
Image above: The couch was a great Craigslist find, in really good condition, and it pulls out to a bed too. The orange lamp was my grandmother’s. She moved to a smaller place last year and so I got a lot of great mid-century furniture from her. The large photographs above the couch are by Shaun Kessler. He gave them to me for cheap after I included them in a show I curated – one of the perks of my old art world job.
Image above: This vintage dresser is too small for all my clothes, but it helps me to try to stay minimal. I swapped out the knobs for these milk glass ones and I love the white against the dark wood. I drew the two bat drawings on either side of the mirror. The rug was my grandmother’s, and my parents were going to keep it, but it didn’t work in their place. I had been coveting it, so was very happy to have it.
See more of this Brooklyn home after the jump!
Image above: I sewed the pillowcases with an African fabric, and a friend made the quilt. My two cats spend 99% of their time on this bed. I love the his-and-hers closets on either side of the bed – this is the first apartment I’ve lived in that was actually made for people to live well in. There are windows in every room, and a total of 4 closets, and real separate rooms. I’m guessing it dates from the 1930s and didn’t get chopped up in the decades since.
Image above: The living room is huge – this side is the play side, opposite is the work side. The little rug was my grandmother’s, and the portrait of the woman was painted by my great-great-uncle. The bookcase was custom built by a friend, and the side table displays all the great ceramics I’ve gotten through trades with my very talented studio-mates. I wove some of the cushions on the couch. I like it minimal but I need splashes of patterns here and there.
Image above: I made the tea-dyed woven paper piece hanging above the table, one of the last art pieces I made before ceramics took over. The large wood table was a hand-me-down from my sister, and I do everything on it – eat, read, pack orders, do paperwork and tarot readings. The chairs are all mismatched mid-century, from Craigslist or my grandmother.
Image above: My little desk – there’s a second, smaller bedroom that has housed various friends now and then, but is currently acting as a giant closet for all my business papers, ceramics stock, and packing supplies. So this little area can stay pretty clean. I got the ‘OJ cut’ African barbershop painting in Paris, and the chair was my grandfathers, from his dental office.
Image above: The cats painting on paper is by my friend Graham Anderson. One of my favorite trades. The bench and cushions were my grandmothers, and my friend Karina Seljak dyed them an amazing indigo.
Image above: The kitchen is the least charming room. I used to have a classic white subway tiled kitchen, so these beige decorative tiles are hard to take. I try to distract from them with plants and objects. The moody painting is from a thrift store, and the vintage fan still works.
Image above: My ceramics are displayed on a mid-century hutch that secretly houses the kitty litter in the bottom part. I spent a long time searching for the right thing and finally found it on Craigslist. It makes a huge difference! The plants all have to be high up or they’ll get eaten by the cats.
Image above: This built-in bookshelf is one of the things that makes this place a gem. It displays my ceramics, those made by friends, all my crystals & little mystical objects, and books. I love how it frames the bedroom door.