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Interiorssneak peeks

A Cozy Brooklyn Apartment for an Artist and Teacher

by Grace Bonney

I met Sara Berks of MINNA a few years ago through a mutual friend. I went to one of Sara’s shows in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and have been following her work ever since. It’s been fun to watch her evolve from 2D works to the beautiful, modern weavings she’s creating at MINNA. Last week we got to learn more about Sara’s business and her path to running a creative company, and today we’re getting a peek inside her Brooklyn home, which she shares with her girlfriend and an independent school teacher, Steph, and their rescue dog, Max.

Sara has called this Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment home for two and a half years and loves the historic details around the apartment, like the detailed molding around the ceiling. While the building was originally built in 1902, Sara and Steph have done a great job of mixing in modern pieces along with cherished hand-me-downs. While some couples struggle to combine their styles, Sara says their home-merge was relatively easy. “The first time Steph came over, she said my apartment looked exactly like she’s always tried to decorate but could never achieve. Which was perfect! Our space is filled with friends’ artwork, furniture passed down from family, and photographs that remind us of what’s most important to us. Making our home ours is an ongoing process.” Read on to learn more about their home and what makes it so special for them. xo, grace

Photographs by Sasha Israel

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Sara in her living room, surrounded by artwork created by friends and loved ones.
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Sara and Steph's apartment opens into their sunny living room. "The couch was my first adult purchase from West Elm," Sara says. The chest belonged to Steph's mom and the chair in the foreground was Sara's grandmother's that she reupholstered. The pillows are from Sara's MINNA collection, "They're our 'bad samples' that were good enough for us to keep."
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Sara says she, "always wanted a big gallery wall," so that was the first thing she created when she moved in. On the wall is a collection of drawings Sara made, a poster she bought on a trip to Israel, a poster from her parents' first house together, vintage frames/windows and a painting she commissioned her friend Stephanie Chambers to paint.
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The living room bookshelves (along with the bedroom dressers and Sara's desk) were in Sara's father's childhood bedroom. The poster is from Sara's cousin's store Otherwild (stay tuned for their sneak peek on DS soon!). Sara made the weaving, and the wooden piece was a trade Sara did with Aleksandree Zee. The photos on top are of Sara's mother, both of her grandmothers (MINNA's namesake in the white frame), and a photo of Steph and her sister.
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A detail of the living room bookshelves and Sara's family photos.
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The type drawer on the living room was a piece Sara found on the street in Park Slope seven years ago. The "It's Ok" banner was purchased from Sara's friend Ashley Brown-Durand (Secret Holiday Co.). The speakers and record player (below) were Sara's dad's from college. "He decided to buy these with insurance money he got from a car accident, instead of getting his car fixed," she says. "Looks like they lasted longer than the car would have, anyways."
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The view from the living room into Sara's studio.
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Sara's home studio, in the apartment's second bedroom space. This room faces the street and gets lots of bright light during the day. Max hangs out on the couch next to Sara's drafting table, which she bought used from Krrb for, "next to nothing."
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Sara's studio wall holds all of her weavings and is constantly changing. "I tucked a tall tower shelf in the corner behind the door that holds most of my yarn."
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Sara's computer desk is also from her father's childhood bedroom. The shelf is from a vintage store in Phoenicia and holds odds and ends Sara has collected: a box from a flea market in Paris, drawings she's made, zines, a small red jar that Sara made when I was 12, a drawing figurine covered in maps that Sara's best friends made when she moved away from Boston, and a small print Sara bought in Tzfat, Israel. The inspiration wall of photos are a mix of found pieces and Sara's own photos and drawings.
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"We bought these two shelving units from IKEA when Steph moved in," Sara explains. Sara's rugs and blankets are both stored and displayed here, as well as shipping materials.
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This is a small inspiration / mood-board wall that Sara created. "This actually used to be where my drafting table was, so it made more sense there before, but I didn’t want to take it down. A few drawings I made, small weaving swatches and a wall of yarn organized by color."
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The bedroom is cozy, but has plenty of room for Sara and Steph's belongings. "When Steph moved in she came with a large dresser, so we used my two smaller dressers as nightstands. Luckily they fit perfectly." Sara made the large weaving above the bed and Steph built the shelves (see the next photo) for extra storage.
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Sara's dressers make great bedside tables in a small room, and Steph's DIY shelves are perfect for taking advantage of the room's vertical space.
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Steph bought this dresser at a secondhand store upstate and refinished it herself. She and Sara wanted another gallery wall in the bedroom so they made this one with drawings from Sara's grandmother's collection and a "Lez Party" weaving from a collaboration Sara did with her friend Cherlyn Russo. "We thought it was appropriate for our bedroom." Steph bought the mirror at Collier's Mansion in Ditmas Park.
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A close-up of the bedroom's gallery wall.
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"We try to bring a lot of plants into the kitchen because it's my least favorite room in the house," Sara explains. "The textile hanging in the window was a gift from a friend who moved away; he also made the plant hanger."
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