Interiors

A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love

by Annie Werbler

Brandi Harper, owner of the natural knitwear brand purlBknit, lives and works on the top floor of a charming but sinking Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn brownstone. “It’s nothing serious,” she insists, “But geologically speaking — very interesting, indeed!” When water spills, it pools in one area of a room, evidence of the unlevel floors in a home dating back to 1899. Her partner, Adrienne Colbert, is an IT project manager working in corporate America — and the techie to Brandi’s artist. They are continually baffled by how a one-bedroom apartment fit for two people can contain two televisions, four working laptops, two DVD players, a Wii box, and countless other gadgets. Brandi’s toys take up residence in the dedicated knitting studio, where she creates garments from natural materials and runs her business full-time. Taking cues from many different influences, her aesthetic comes together by pairing rich, neutral color palettes with everlasting materials. Both women love to write and preserve the handwritten notes left for one another as love letters, original songs, and poetry scattered throughout. “Together,” Brandi shares, “our home is a representation of what makes us so obviously different and completely the same.”

Though Adrienne sometimes has bouts ofΒ “renovation fatigue,” Brandi is always moving the furniture around and adding new touches. Design is in her blood, and homemaking is a driving passion. When she feels challenged by the relatively close quarters, she recalls the constant wash of natural light in her “bird-chirping heaven.” Living in New York is synonymous with having little space, but those small spaces can sometimes include elegant features, like converted fireplaces with stone mantels, tall ceilings, and hand-carved wooden details. Close proximity to a bustling creative community also allows for the active support of small businesses and frequent trips to local craft markets. Brandi and Adrienne wanted their home to be full of natural elements, and a striking reflection of what it means to be handmade with love. β€”Annie

Photography by Brandi Harper

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A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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Brandi Harper of purlBknit outside of her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn brownstone apartment. "I feel about knitting needles like some people feel about books or shoes," she says. "You can never have too many." She spent about eight months making this needle case of rosewood rods woven through handmade crochet pockets made of jute to hold her 150 needles and crochet hooks.
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Brandi's purlBknit studio is the walk-in-closet she's always wanted. She transformed 100 square feet into a knitting studio also equipped for photography, shipping, and designing.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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The rubber leaf is Brandi's very first tree, and an inspiration in her workspace. When her partner Adrienne asked Brandi to display her art on the walls, the request expanded to include framed dried leaves.
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Brandi knits in this wingback chair snagged from a stoop sale for $25. Using about 90 straight pins, she draped it with a floral-printed linen to cover the original worn upholstery.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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To hold her yarn and knitwear, Brandi built a shelving unit of banana leaf baskets. The addition of wooden boards stabilizes its structure.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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Brandi and Adrienne enjoy hosting friends and family, so they keep the living room floorplan open and bring out an eight-foot-long table for dinner parties.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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Brandi made these hanging planters with jute, 2-inch clay pots, and various crochet and macramΓ© techniques. She sells them potted in both cotton and jute with exotic dried flowers on her Etsy shop purlBknit.
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On the living room mantel, artwork celebrates both Brandi and Adrienne's families' roots in the Caribbean, and collected items from travel are displayed. The building's owner is a friend of the couple, and is responsible for the charming clawfoot tub, stripped mantels, and ceiling fans.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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The kitchen is, according to Brandi, "Where the homemade magic happens." An entire counter is dedicated to important gadgets such as the portable blender and high-powered juicer.
A Bed-Stuy Brownstone Handmade With Love, on Design*Sponge
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The pantry is full of raw, colorful produce, and adds color to the kitchen and changes by the the season. Brandi loves collecting glass vessels for all the varieties of beans, seeds, and pastas she and Adrienne keep in the home.
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The bedroom is filled with bright natural light in the afternoons only, so ferns and other plants that require indirect sunlight work best here.
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"There will never be enough closet space," Brandi says. She and Adrienne enhance the storage situation with additional shelving and a filing drawer for their hats, scarves, shawl collar cardigans, and shoes in need of homes.
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By her bedside, Brandi keeps motivational books designed for entrepreneurs and beach stones collected during travels to speak to her "creative wanderlust spirit."
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Adrienne played the flute as a child and still collects hand-painted versions of the instrument from around the world.
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The bedroom corner window with dried plants from Fort Greene floral shop Saffron. This corner is soothing, reassuring, and provides peaceful feelings.
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Adrienne found this 70-year-old dresser while antiquing in Boston, then updated the knobs to make it her own.
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The bathroom is Brandi's favorite space in the apartment. "This is the one room where having mostly white space doesn't feel bare."
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The goddess statue on the sink vanity acts as a daily reminder to find calmness and stay true.
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"What I love most about our home is... Time slows Love grows and Garlic lingers in the air." -Brandi Harper
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Floor plan of the one-bedroom brownstone apartment.
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This post is brought to you by Postable. Super cute holiday cards, printed, addressed and mailed for you! Check out their collection here: www.postable.com Thanks for supporting our sponsors like Postable! They enable us to bring you new, original content here on Design*Sponge four times a day!

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