Every season Ellen Van Dusen designs a set of bold, bright prints inspired by contemporary art and culture and then applies them to a simple silhouette for her fashion line Dusen Dusen. So when it was time to decorate the Fort Greene, Brooklyn apartment that she shares with her little brother, Dave, she applied that same mentality and started with what she knows best – color and pattern. It took Ellen nearly the entire three years that she’s lived in the space to create a cohesive feel. She loves modern design with a sort of ’80s bias toward color and pattern. But when she moved in, nearly everything was a hand-me-down, and it’s only been slowly – over time – that she’s added things to make it feel like her own, like the Eric Trine coffee tables she that recently bought for the living room, which is also the site of Ellen’s Sunday TV watching parties (no talking during the show + nachos). Thanks, Ellen! –Amy
Photography: Maxwell Tielman
Ellen: This is our living/dining room. I got a new couch recently and it’s been a real game changer. You can fit 6 people on it very comfortably. We have had a lot of TV parties!
I got the boucherouite rug in the dining room on Etsy and the chairs were designed by Ettore Sottsass for Knoll in the ’80s. I had been looking for dining chairs for a long time and I was so lucky to get an incredible deal on these. My mom got the the table for me at an estate sale in DC (where I grew up). I use it for everything! The painting was a birthday gift from Paul Wackers, if you look really close you can see my initials hidden in there.
See more of this Brooklyn house after the jump!
Image above: When my brother moved in, he really upgraded my cool quotient by bringing a turntable and a lot of records. Our apartment is never quiet. I found the vase on the right in my parents’ basement a couple months ago, and they said I could take it with me. It looks really good with bright flowers in it. Gerber daisies are my favorite.
My dad made me these drawings, the mat and the frame. The full package! I am terrible at keeping plants alive, and amazingly I have had this spider plant for years. My friends Phoebe and Peter from Cold Picnic made the planter hanger and I traded with them for it – it’s the best way to get stuff! The guitar in the corner belongs to my brother.
Image above: I’ve made pillows out of my fabric for a couple different projects – the two on the left were made for West Elm, and the blue and white one on the right was for Of a Kind. The one on the far right has a shark print on it – an old favorite from Spring 2011! I’ve collected a good amount of art from friends over the years, and I am so happy to have those pieces in my home! The prism photo on the left is by my good friend Sarah Murphy, who lives in Texas. The tie-dye flag is by Eric Timothy Carlson. I bought the plant on the left from my landlord, who used to have a hair salon on the ground floor. When the salon closed she had all these plants that she didn’t know what to do with, I swooped this guy up real quick! It’s hearty, which for me is the most important thing.
Image above: My friend Helen Levi made me these little salt and pepper shakers. They are little watermelon slices, and she painted squiggles on them because she knows I like them. A true friend! The placemat was designed by Nathalie du Pasquier, who was a part of the Memphis design group. I have a set of four and they are all really unique and special. They look really good with fruit on them! The fruit bowl is marbled enamelware from a trip to Brimfield.
Image above: This mother of pearl tray is also from Brimfield, and the colander is a one-off from my friend Helen (Levi, again). I think the color looks so nice with oranges. This is the only blue one she made, so it is extra special. Underneath is a piece of my fabric from my spring ’13 collection, and some napkins I made from a fabric I worked with last year.
Image above: I have a circle themed corner in my bedroom. I have a pegboard, lots of colored tape, a hat that fits into a circular bag, a Yaacov Agam poster which prominently features the Olympic Rings and an Espo silkcreen print with the planets. Not pictured are some more dogs on soccer balls.
Image above: This is my desk in my bedroom, which I mostly use for small sewing projects for myself and my friends – usually just hemming pants. I got myself a piggy bank (the pink soccer ball) after accumulating a lot of change in a jar. I have a thing for sharks, so all my friends get me funny shark stuff when they see it. This shark guy is a beer cozy, but I use it as a pencil holder. The print above the desk is by Tauba Auerbach, which I got at the book fair at PS1. The shirt on the back of the chair is from my Fall 2013 collection.
Image above: All the curtains in my apartment are made from leftover fabrics. I made this bugs print fabric as a part of my Spring ’12 collection, and it looks really nice next to my dining table.
Image above: Just a couple pieces from my shark collection. Other shark items I have are: a real shark jaw, 3 shark mugs, an inflatable shark raft, a shark shower cap, a shark bottle opener, shark soap, a shark vacuum cleaner (couldn’t resist). The list is endless!
Image above: Right now, my bedding is watermelon themed. You will see that creep up all over my apartment! It is my favorite food, and I also find it to be the best looking fruit. My dad made the table for me next to my bed (which features my logo!). It has these compartments that open up on top – it’s where I keep all my dog stuff. There were a couple months where I got really into soccer and basketballs. I got all this weird stuff from Amazon, and now it’s all over my house. I really love the soccer ball planter. My favorite thing, though, is a poster I got from Michael’s where there was a grid of 16 puppies photoshopped onto colored soccer balls – I cut it up and put the individual images all over my apartment.
Image above: I found a ceramic white basketball on Amazon and was so, so psyched. I thought it would be full size and glazed, but you can’t have everything you want! I am still very happy with it. It opens up, and I keep candy in it. I have a terrible sweet tooth. My dad made the drawing on the left when he was in his 20s – I have a lot of his stuff sprinkled around the apartment. I found that Garfield at a thrift store and he sits prominently next to my bed.
Image above: This is Snips. She calls all the shots!
Image above: My friends who run Duo in the East Village got me this bowl on one of their vintage shopping expeditions. It’s a funny little thing, I love it! I collect sunglasses – I have about a million pairs. It was only a matter of time before I included sunglasses in my line, and I just released my first Dusen Dusen sunglasses! It was a real dream come true.
Image above: This is my hat/belt/jewelry area. I have a lot of stuff! You can see more watermelon stuff here, and as usual, lots of color!
Image above: When I moved into my first place in New York the previous tenant left this Empire State Building lamp in the apartment. I’ve kept it with me ever since!
Sheets – Dwell, poster above the bed – Debbie Carlos, table – my dad (Ben Van Dusen), planter – Amazon.com
Lamp is vintage, Garfied from a thrift store, table is a hand-me-down
Bowl (with sunglasses) is vintage
Mandarin Chair for Knoll by Ettore Sottsass bought on Ruby Lane, boucherouite rug from Etsy, salt and pepper shakers were a gift (bought on Etsy), painting is by Paul Wackers
Bookshelves are from Ikea, lamp is Bzippy, vase is vintage
Pillows by Dusen Dusen, prism photo is by Sarah Murphy, flag is by Eric Timothy Carlson
Placemats are by Natalie du Pasquier from Third Drawer Down
Colander bowl by Helen Levi, tray from Brimfield, napkins and fabric by Dusen Dusen
Yaacov Agam poster from Etsy, planets print by Espo, circular hat from Opening Ceremony
Empire State Building is hand-me-down
Bug print curtains handmade with Dusen Dusen fabric
All shark items were gifts