Interiorssneak peeks

An Interior Designer + Contractor’s Beautiful Brooklyn Home

by Grace Bonney

Over the years we’ve had the honor of visiting so many incredible homes. From small studio apartments in Manhattan to stately townhouses in London, being welcomed into someone’s home is always a very special thing. Over the past few weeks I’ve been visiting some of these homes with photographers to meet people in person, and it’s made such a change in the way I view both their spaces and the stories behind them.

Interior designer Danielle Colding has lived in the Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn apartment she shares with her husband Fred, a general contractor, and their dog Mia for 3.5 years. As soon as Sasha and I walked in, we could tell how much hard work and love had been put into their space. So it was bittersweet to hear that the night before they’d learned their building had been sold, and this would be their last full year in this space. Knowing that made our shoot take on a different level of significance and it’s an honor to capture this incredible home before it’s packed up and begins again in a new space.

A born and bred New Yorker, Danielle grew up in a tudor home in Queens, while Fred was raised in Brittany, France. They both eventually settled in Brooklyn, where they found their floor-through apartment with one very special feature. “What sealed the deal for me was the Sol Lewitt mural in the office. To have a piece of original art in my home felt like it was just meant to be,” Danielle says. In addition, Danielle loved the surrounding area. “Bed-Stuy had everything I was looking for: incredible architecture, a friendly neighborhood feel and a legacy of African American families who still occupied most of the housing. It was also a neighborhood that was fiercely against letting gentrification change it. Of course, there has been a lot of change over the years I have lived here, but there is still a friendliness and sense of community that I have not found anywhere else in New York.”

Like many homes, Danielle and Fred’s has seen a lot of change. It has seen them through the beginning of their relationship, their marriage, and served as a safe place to grieve and rebuild after the death of Danielle’s mother — who played a pivotal role in Danielle’s creativity and can be seen in almost every facet of their home.

“This apartment has been a haven for me. It’s been a safe place where I could be surrounded by objects of love. I will forever be grateful for having this space for the time I have. I am a different, and dare I say better, person as a result. It was exactly what I needed at a very difficult time. My life has truly changed into something beautiful while I have lived here. For that I am forever grateful.” Read on to hear more about Danielle, Fred and Mia’s lovely Brooklyn home. xo, grace

Photography by Sasha Israel

Complete source list from Danielle:

Table: Room and Board
Chairs: RePOP
Cabinet knobs: Anthropologie
Pitcher and sugar and cream set: michelle varian

Living room:
Sofa: antique, upholstered by Emanuel Decorators
Chinese Chest: Antique from San Francisco shop
Elephant Table: my mother’s
Corner chair: my grandfather’s, upholstered in Fortuny fabric
White frame chair: Vintage reupholstered
Rug: Brooklyn Flea
Lucite Tray: Baker
David Ruffin Print, Jom Britt from Rock Paper Photo, Frame from Make a Frame
Juju Hat: Authentic Africa
Framed Ndebele skirt: South Africa
Framed Mike Ruiz Photo: purchased from Design on a Dime
Mask: South Africa
Bar Cart: my grandfather’s
Lamp: Baker
Decanters: my grandparents’
Mirror: West Elm
Plate: Kehinde Wiley from Art Ware
Vases on mantel: my mother’s

Lantern: my grandfather’s
Art: my mother’s

Towels: West Elm
Table: my grandfather’s
glass decanter: my mother’s

Headboard: One Kings lane
Bedding: Sheets & Throw Pillow, John Robshaw
Coverlet: Freete
Kantha: Scotts Atlanta Flea Market
On mantel:
crystal candle holder, Tiffany
brass candle holder, Michelle Varian
vintage candle holder- Chelsea flea
Bust- my own
vase- my mother’s- vintage
Plant table- Aero studio
Floral art- my grandmother’s
African woman art- from South Africa
Chinese art- vintage
Art to left of dressers: original by Paul Waldeman
Dressers: consignment shop in Riverhead
Gold Lamp: Baker
All accessories- my mom’s vintage
Bedside table- antique from mom
Lamp: Baker

Desks: West elm
Chairs: Kartel
Reading chair and ottoman- my mother’s upholstered in linen from Norbar
Pillow- Wisteria
Photo ledges- West Elm
File cabinets and bookcase- Pottery Barn
Fashion prints- Conde Nast Trade
Mirror- my mother’s

An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle, Fred and Mia at home in their living room. "What I love about this room is that it exudes warmth. It is an eclectic mix of colors and objects. Most of the items here were passed down by my mom. She found the caned sofa on the street and I had it upholstered after she passed away. I love the way all of the colors work together. There is a lot going on, but it feels warm and inviting," Danielle says.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle and Fred's living room is full of artwork, old and new. The art above the sofa is a photograph by Mike Ruiz that Danielle purchased at Design on a Dime in 2013. The mask above that is from Danielle's time living in South Africa during her senior year of college. "Every single item in this space has a story. I grew up with the elephant table in my childhood home's sunroom. I had it refinished after my mom passed away. The elephants are a sign of good luck and they face out to bring security and peace to the home."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
"When I first saw this mantel I was so thrilled; against the exposed brick wall it was just magic," Danielle says. "I bought the white frame chair from a friend and had it reupholstered in fabric I had leftover from my first-ever design job. The corner chair was my grandfather's and I used some leftover Fortuny fabric from that same job to upholster it. I was so blown away by how well my fabrics worked with the mantel. The small black Japanese stool was my grandfather's as well. I grew up with that and the corner chair. It is amazing to see these pieces with a new life and in a new context."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The view from the living room into the kitchen. "I bought the Chinese chest with my mom in San Francisco when I lived there as a dancer. Although it was technically hers, I lived with it in California for many years." The kitchen is filled with artwork, making it feel like an extension of the living area. "You can see the fresh white cabinets against the exposed brick of the kitchen. I have lined the top of the cabinets with art from various places. There is a piece from my mom's honeymoon in Haiti. There is a piece I bought from a Nigerian neighbor in LA. As I said every single item has a story."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The living room wall has a mix of artwork and sculpture. The photograph on this wall is by Danielle's friend's dad, Jim Britt. "It is an amazing shot of David Ruffin with a Lion. So badass! And the piece on the right is a Ndebele leather beaded skirt that I bought in South Africa for my mom. The African woman sculpture I also bought in South Africa for my mom. She has a tiny baby on her back. I love that she was a mom and a warrior much like my own mother."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
"What I love about this photo is that the room feels very light and airy but it still has the eclectic vibe of the rest of the apartment," Danielle says of her kitchen. "I love the Roman shade, which I had made with the ultra classic Brunschwig & Fils Les Touches fabric. The yellow pom pom trim along the bottom edge makes me very happy. You can also see my new, larger kitchen table inherited from a client, paired with my great mid-century kitchen chairs from RePOP in Williamsburg. I love that this shot shows the connection between the kitchen and the living room."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
A gallery wall above the kitchen table. "And finally, my hubby gets a moment," Danielle says. "It is a melding of our art collections. I love the butterfly/heart painting by Paul Waldeman on the very top. It is just a sweet piece. There is also a boxer piece by our friend Jerome Lagarrigue. The masks on the far wall were my mother's that I believe she also purchased on her honeymoon. They used to live in the basement of my childhood home. The black pitcher and cream and sugar were gifts for our wedding from one of our favorite stores, Michelle Varian."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Even the kitchen backsplash wall can become a gallery, including pieces like Danielle's mother's flea market find above the stove. "[The wall also includes] a painting by my uncle's friend of his native New Mexico, a small mask from Mexico, a goya print by the artist Tony Peralta and a painting of an African couple that belonged to my mom." Danielle replaced all of the previously white cabinet knobs with funky ones from Anthropologie.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Looking down the hallway from the living room to the bedroom. "I have to say this hallway is one of my favorite places in the apartment. The light fixture is my grandfather's. I painted the walls a deep blue-green; there is nothing like a dark, intense space to transition between two light and airy spaces. There is something magical about it."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
"Oy! My messy transition space between the hallway and the bathroom. As you can see my stuff is packed in there. It is actually a great area because it serves as a linen closet and vanity space. Don't think that water bottle belongs there! Oh well. A taste of real life. "
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle and Fred's bathroom. "My sink area has towels from West Elm. The black glass piece was my mother's and used to live in her all-black bathroom. I painted the walls in here a creamy taupe to contrast with the all white tiles everywhere. It gave the room some much needed warmth," Danielle says.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle and Fred's bedroom is yet another room with an amazing mantel. "I love this room because it is spacious, especially for New York. I found the grasscloth dresser at a consignment shop on Long Island for a steal. The mirror above the bed was my mother's and used to live in our all-white bathroom in my childhood home," Danielle says. The bedroom sheets and throw pillow are from John Robshaw, the coverlet is by Frette and the Kantha throw was found in an antiques mall in Atlanta on a designer trip Danielle took this past summer.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Of her bedroom furniture, Danielle says, "I must say I just love my vintage dressers. This amazing lamp is from Baker. It was originally bought for a client but I could never let it go." The two Degas prints on easels were originally in Danielle's childhood bedroom." I was a dancer throughout my childhood and Degas was always a favorite." On the windows you can see another pair of elephants, ceramic planters that belonged to Danielle's mother. The art is a flea market find.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The art above the mantel was Danielle's grandmother's. The candles are a mix of new and old (the short vintage candles were found at the Chelsea flea market). The bust is a copy of Degas' sculpture, The Little Dancer. Danielle made it during her senior year of high school. "As I said I was obsessed with dance and with Degas. The plant is my husband's pride and joy. Thank goodness one of us got a green thumb. I purchased the artwork of the African woman in South Africa. And the other two pieces are my mom's art that she used to have in her bedroom."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The bedside nightstands were Danielle's from childhood; she refinished them when she moved to New York. "The bedside lamp is another Baker purchase. A client may get it eventually. I love the little Frida Kahlo portrait on my side. I bought it in Tulum in a great little shop."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
"A shot of my two loves, Fred and Mia. What I love about this shot is it shows the contrast that exists between all of the rooms. Dark to light and light to dark. I think a lot about those transitions. I believe that small spaces can hold intense color. People tend to be afraid of painting small rooms dark. I think it enhances them and makes them feel cozy."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle and Fred's "his and hers" office. "We painted the walls a color called Dragon's Breath. I struggled a lot with choosing a color that would enhance the mural (see the next slide) and bring some oomph to the room. We have matching parsons desks from West Elm and Kartell ghost chairs that I received as a gift from my first design job at Irvine & Fleming," Danielle says.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle and Fred's office contains a Sol Lewitt mural. "The story goes that someone who rented the apartment before me worked for Lewitt and he was able to get one of Sol's pieces. He applied it to the wall like wallpaper. The mural absolutely makes the space. It set the tone for everything in the space. It is such an honor to live in a place with art literally everywhere."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
"Yet another gallery wall. I believe I am a one-trick pony!" Danielle says. (We disagree.) "This one features vintage Conde Nast black and white fashion prints mixed in with a Josephine Baker plaque from Paris and my mom's 70s framed print. I made the boat in high school. The lamp is another Baker piece I couldn't let go of."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The office mirror was in Danielle's mother's all-black bathroom in her childhood home. "As you can see I am inspired by interiors and fashion equally. I have made my own hodge-podge inspiration wall. And some memorabilia, including our wedding invitation, on the cork board to the right."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
The office contains a small closet filled to the brim with books. "I am a lover of design and fashion books. I simply cannot get enough," Danielle says. Of her cork board, she says, "I am always collecting things that make me smile and feed my imagination."
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Looking out the office window (with a custom Roman shade), facing the main street. The lamp was a vintage piece Danielle bought for a client that didn't work. "Are you sensing a theme here?" she asks. The mirror was Danielle's mother's.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge
Danielle, Fred and Mia in their bedroom.
An Interior Designer + Contractor's Beautiful Brooklyn Home, Design*Sponge

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  • I loved Danielle when she on Design Star! It’s nice to see that she has filled her home with a variety of special artwork and meaningful belongings. There is something so wonderful about a space that has been decorated with love and not just filled with a bunch of brand new items.

  • So very sad to know that the beautiful space Danielle and Fred have created will be lost to them. So many changes in Bed-Stuy with property selling for crazy prices and pushing folks out of the community. On a brighter note, I was happy to attend the black in design conference at Harvard this past weekend, wonderful things are happening in urban planning that focus on reducing displacement and enforcing strong communities across the country. Thanks for spreading the word about the conference. I was full of glee when I opened the program and saw Design Sponge among the sponsors. Keep walking the walk.

  • Oh man! What a heartbreak! It’s such a beautiful home, and I’m sure will be sad to leave — though with their skills, I’m sure there next home will be just as gorgeous. New place, new opportunities.

  • This home is amazing! But it is a tragedy the building sold and you will be moving. Can you somehow take Sol Lewitt mural with you?

  • A home filled with love. Can’t wait to see what Danielle & Fred do with their new place. Hope it has a slightly bigger kitchen ;-)

  • I feel nearly tearful at the news of the building being sold, (and what it means on a larger scale); this is an absolutely amazing, perfectly imperfect home. You can feel the life radiating through the screen, especially with Danielle speaking on the pieces that have grown with them, the ones passed down, and those that have found them in their travels.

    I actually do feel honored to see this space as it is now, and I’m sure wherever you land will be just as beautiful.

  • I feel like I’m always doing the design shuffle. As much as I love minimalism and the idea of less is more, Danielle’s home makes me question it all. I was in tears reading the stories of each item, how they were acquired and how much meaning every little piece has.

    I’m truly touched and inspired by this space and how she honors her loved ones that have passed.

  • The second photo- shot of the living room- is perfect! The lighting, the color- really well done. I love this home and am sorry they have to move. I am usually not a sentimental person, but I love the stories of the hand-me-down pieces. My favorite piece is the African woman print to the right of the mantel in the bedroom.

  • What about the mural?!? Surely they are saving that. I love Sol Lewitt. That’s so cool to have something like that in a place.

    I love the warmth of this apartment so much.

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