There’s an ephemeral romance that stirs up in me when I imagine the life and home of a perfumer. It seems like a career field out of a fiction novel where days are spent discovering scents and hand-mixing them in colorfully-tinted glass bottles in a sun-filled room. For perfumer Holladay Saltz, this rings (mostly) true.
Southerner Holladay and her husband and native New Yorker, Sam Saltz, live in a 780-square-foot 1900s brownstone with their cat, Prudence. Holladay runs her own fragrance and personal care line,
Apoteker Tepe, from home where she spends her days mixing new concentrated scents, drafting new formulas, bottling and managing the design of print materials and her website. Sam teaches at a high school for recent immigrants in the Bronx. “I’m a native Southerner who longed to wear all black growing up and he’s a native New Yorker who loves mint juleps and bow ties, so our aesthetics balance pretty well,” says Holladay.
Their small home is filled with a balance of cobbled-together furniture from antique stores and family, multifunctional pieces and plenty of glass and Lucite to keep things visually light. Because the home serves as Holladay’s office and perfumery as well, functionality was of top priority, followed by highlighting the turn-of-the-century features such as the gargoyle in the entryway and original wood doors and beams — while still keeping it contemporary.
Photographs by Shay Platz
Holladay and Sam's last apartment had no windows, so their beloved bay windows are a luxury. Depending on the day, the window seat doubles as extra work space or as a reading nook.
Holladay and Sam's home is all about function. Most of their furniture pieces are multi-use, such as this entryway, which doubles as a kitchen island when they need more prep space in the kitchen. The "hornet's nest" planter with the asparagus fern in it is by Holladay's friend Minh Singer, and the conch bowl is by McCarty Pottery in Marigold, Mississippi.
Holladay and Sam stacked EXPEDIT bookshelves from IKEA to create a larger, bigger impact piece, which contrasts nicely with the older features of the home, like the old locks and the original black glass doorknobs.
On any given day, you can find Holladay working at her desk mixing and coming up with formulas. In this photo she's diluting a natural aroma in alcohol to create a fragrance.
This is the living room mantel, which has been restored beautifully. "I love the foxing on the mirror and the ornate scrollwork on the framing. The print is an aquatint I did in college," says Holladay.
Though it doesn't happen as often as they'd like, Holladay and Sam love to entertain and have their Brooklyn-based friends over for dinner.
Holladay found the Otomi fabric-hanging behind the table in the dusty back room of an antique store for a steal. It may be old and torn and stained, but with a little TLC from Holladay who backed it with canvas, it hangs beautifully and pays homage to its mysterious history.
The kitchen may not be worth writing home about, but the open-concept function, smart use of space (such as this cookbook shelf above the sink) and good light are perfect for their needs. Mississippi-born Holladay often gets homesick for gumbo z'herbes and swoons over the pages of her Southern and Cajun/Creole cookbooks.
"We have a vaguely blue theme going on in the kitchen," says Holladay, "which happened totally by accident." Each blue ceramic McCarty Pottery piece has a different story and evokes nostalgic feelings in Holladay. The black line in all the pieces represents the Mississippi River.
The apartment's long hallway eventually leads to a French door to the bedroom. The door to the right leads to the bathroom and to the left is a laundry nook. The plate depicting Napoleon is from John Derian and was a Christmas gift from Sam.
Just outside of the bedroom is a laundry nook. The washer and dryer is tucked behind a velvet curtain. Their Arthur Umanoff chair, sometimes used as bathroom storage, often holds laundry that needs to be folded. "The parrots are a triptych of ornithological prints by Jacques Barraband, who was hired by Napoleon to design his banquet hall at St. Cloud, so I like that they both occupy this little space together."
The painting that hangs above the towel rack was given to Holladay by her grandmother. Holladay was thrilled to find a matching painting depicting a boy and his dog in a junk store in Williamsburg, laughing, "When I brought it up to the counter to pay and excitedly explained to the clerk that I had exactly the same painting at home, just with lady-and-cat, all he said was 'creepy.' Which I guess it is!"
The bathroom boasts floor-to-ceiling subway tiles. The little blue-and-white soap dish is actually a cheese riser that Holladay found at the Porte de Vanves flea market in Paris.
The bedroom window faces the backyard gardens of all of the brownstones on the street. The reclaimed double doors lead to closets and have the same black glass doorknobs as the rest of the apartment. Holladay and Sam found the cowhide rug in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.
The mid-century American of Martinsville dresser was purchased from the now-closed antique store Brownstone Treasures in Carroll Gardens. Holladay and Sam keep all of their mementos and letters in the hidden top drawer. The Shaker basket on the floor was Holladay's grandmother's, which Holladay used as a toy basket when she was a child.
The oval tray on the dresser is another piece from McCarty Pottery and the jewelry is by Metalepsis Projects and SAMMA, both created by friends of Holladay's. The perfume bottles are from Holladay's line, Apoteker Tepe. The larger of which will be launching and available for purchase in the spring.
The storage cabinets in the bedroom have doors made of reclaimed shutters and are a super-smart use of space. The big, framed silkscreen that hangs on the brick wall above their bed was given to them by Holladay's parents who got it through Boston Museum's "rent to own" program they implemented in the 70s. Holladay's parents paid it down in installments when they were in graduate school and now it serves as a beautiful conversation piece.
The desk across from their bed serves as a secondary workspace which Holladay and Sam use when one of them needs a quiet space to write or pay bills. The hexagon light is from the Future Perfect and the framed map depicts an Ortelius map of Persia. Having worked at a print gallery in the Upper East Side, Holladay has an affinity for old prints, which you can find scattered all over their home.
Situated to the right of the work desk in the bedroom is a gorgeous original fireplace. The metal and fabric chair, once covered in a hideous bright yellow vinyl, was recovered by Holladay in soft grey wool from Mood Fabrics accented with black piping.
Prudence the cat proudly lies on the all-white bed. "She usually hates having her picture taken but for some reason this time she obliged," laughs Holladay.