An Old Hospital Becomes a Home

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My home city of Chicago is an architecture fan’s dream city. There are so many different styles of buildings all crammed together, that five years into living here I still find myself walking to work with my neck craned upward. I can’t even imagine all the striking stories these buildings could tell. I am sure my apartment building — a 100-year-old walkup — can tell its fair share of stories, but I haven’t discovered much beyond finding out it’s been home to three generations of my landlord’s family. So when I heard that New York-based prop-stylist Kira and her photographer partner Scott found out their rent-controlled Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment was actually part of an old converted hospital, I was excited to hear more about their building’s history.

Both Kira and Scott hail from small, New England towns that are a far cry from the buzzing, 24-hour marathon that New York can be. The hustle and bustle of the city is something the couple truly loves, but when they were on the hunt for their home, they wanted to ensure that their new space provided a calming refuge from the city. The old hospital conversion that they stumbled upon was not only convenient to public transportation, but to famers’ markets, the Brooklyn Museum, the public library and much more. “There was a lot to do within walking distance and there are tons of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops,” Kira says. The one-bedroom’s abundance of light was a huge selling point for the couple, as well as its ability to be changed to suit their lives. “After a few years this apartment definitely feels like home, especially since we have customized it so much to meet our needs. We’ve done things gradually, but it’s a process that never really feels finished,” Kira says. “We could go on tweaking and improving forever.” Being renters, it was important that the couple’s tweaks be minimally invasive so the changes were, “mostly just painting and making the occasional hole in the wall for a shelf or painting.” When planning, Kira and Scott’s aim was, “to create a space that felt like us, our colors and mood, but we also paid a lot of attention to having multiple functioning spaces in one.” Click through to see what a wonderful job they’ve done creating a space that’s unique to them while cleverly tackling their home’s challenges. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Alice Gao

  1. Mercury says:

    Wow! That is a stunning and amazing apartment–not at all what I would expect from a converted hospital. Beautiful. I don’t think I could live in such a place as I would probably find a way to convince myself that it was haunted :)

  2. Linda says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!!!

  3. Sophie says:

    Wow what a cool apartment! I’m visiting Chicago this summer so it’ll be great to see the architecture.

    Sophie | Dreams and Colour Schemes

  4. Liv Elin says:

    Loving this…and very happy that you moved the arrows to the top of the image too!

  5. adam says:

    Could you let me know where the rug comes from in the 12th picture with the yellow geometric pattern? Thanks!

  6. Anitra says:

    Can you tell me the color of that navy paint? Just gorgeous!

    1. Garrett Fleming says:

      Hi Anitra,

      The navy paint is Poppyseed by Behr. I love it!

      1. Kira says:

        Hi Adam, it’s just from Ikea! I bought it years ago but they’re still selling them.

        1. adam says:

          thanks so much!

  7. Zoe says:

    WOW @ use of space! Such a beautiful apartment. Would love to see a floor plan!

  8. Rita Marie says:

    Oh, my goodness! I love that dining space. I cannot believe this entire home is is only 300 sq ft! Great selection of items and colors!

  9. Sally says:

    I really like their style! The use of navy blue is gorgeous and works well with the small space and the little groupings of objets are great.

  10. Ann says:

    really charming!! You said that windows in NYC bathrooms was rare….is it really? Almost every apartment I’ve been in has a little window in the shower- I actually was thinking its a NYC trademark

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      I wish I’d had one, but in 7 apartments over 11 years, I only had a window in my bathroom once.

      Grace :(

  11. Robyn says:

    Such a cute bedroom! Where is the bedframe from?

    1. Susan says:

      Ikea. It’s a Malm bed.

  12. Caroline says:

    brilliant and inspiring -love it!

  13. CAfromD says:

    This has nothing to do with this beautiful space but —

    Did you set up your slide shows so that the arrows to move to the next slide are all in the same place?

    Fabulous! Makes it so much easier!

    THANKS for such a thoughtful change

  14. Annabelle says:

    You probably mean rent stabilized and not rent controlled — very different things!

    I cast my vote for staining and sealing the kitchen island (to match the table perhaps?) also where is that adorable tea kettle from??

    1. Kira says:

      Believe it or not, it’s vintage Farberware! xx

  15. Jane Rovers says:

    Beautiful space! I have been in love with that Michael Sowa print ever since seeing Amelie.

  16. Jen says:

    This is literally one of my favorite posts on DS to date… I LOVE the colors, I love the relaxed feel, the coziness, everything. I’m loving the pineapple prints, and it’s inspired me to just TAPE SOMETHING UP dang it, because anything’s better than a blank wall at this point in my house. No need to make a big fuss about wall art. :)

    1. Kira says:

      I take that as a gigantic compliment! Thank you so much Jen!

  17. Paulette says:

    You have a serene and well-thought out apartment, so I have to ask, where do you keep the litter box?

    1. Kira says:

      We hide it in plain site, it’s right behind the cow hide chair. ;)

  18. kristen says:

    Is the canyon print in the bedroom a DIY project?

    Looks beautiful!

    1. Kira says:

      It’s a print made by our friend Kyle Dorosz!

  19. kymberly says:

    Where is the dining table from?

    1. Kira says:

      I got it from a family friend, it’s a vintage army desk from Singapore.

  20. Suzanne says:

    Hi, That stereo/turntable looks compact. We’re looking for something similar. Would mind sharing the brand? Thanks!

  21. Bérangère says:

    Love this tour. I looked at it 3 times already and shared it on Facebook. I love colour and can go crazy with layered patterns but I appreciate this very appealing small space. They somehow managed to keep it airy and effortless. Too many spaces are getting predictable or forced and filled with the cliché must haves. I like that even though they keep improving and changing things, they keep it simple and it seems to be a gradual process. Those are the best spaces because it’s only with time that we can really feel what our homes (owned or rented), need to be improved.

    Love the effect of the wooden table and everything that pops against that poppy seed colour from Behr. I have a dresser by our front door with the same wooden tones and I’ve been tempted to paint a similar dark grey colour (or navy) behind it for years but I’m hesitating since I did an entire wall in our dining space 3 years ago with black chalkboard paint. The chalk doodles from the children (and us) give a greyish/blueish hue that I love. I know it’s been done a million times but I never looked back and I’m far from sick of it.

    Maybe I’ll just go for it anyway. Thanks for sharing!

  22. emily says:

    it’s hard to believe from the photos that this place is only 300 square feet…they’ve done such a great job laying out the furniture and buying the right pieces to use the space in the best possible ways! really love the small vignettes around the house as well.

  23. Mary says:

    I love the way the oil splatters look on the chalkboard paint by the stove. I’m so doing that! my favorite sneak peak in a while

  24. Julia says:

    I LOVE that shield shaped mirror! Where did you get it!?


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