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Interiors

An Artful Home Above a Bookstore

by Annie Werbler

When the decorating goal in a home is simply to have fun with each room, spaces tend to develop their own distinct styles. Product designer Leela Ivie Joshi and her husband Ryan Ivie, a doctor, approach each decor challenge like an art project. “It’s not just about the finished product,” she shares, “But about how much fun it can be to do it.” Their 700-square-foot apartment, situated on the corner of a busy and vibrant street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY, feels as bright and vital as its surroundings. Saturated color plays a big part in modernizing a home built in the year 1900. Leela and Ryan also happen to live above a bookstore, which only helps to grow their collection of cherished titles. Books are incorporated into the decor of every room and spread out around the home, lending their wisdom. The specific inspiration for each room varies — for example, the living area and kitchen feel bright, colorful, and full of energy. “There’s something very zen about sitting on top [of] the fridge drawing tiny henna designs on the wall,” Leela says. In fact, she wishes she had more walls just for the fun of creating something on them. In the bedroom, the pair wanted heavy storage to look like the inside of a suitcase. And in the bathroom, inspiration comes from the interior details of North Indian residences, painted a dark and moody tone. Always in a state of outgrowing their one-bedroom apartment, creative solutions for exposed storage compensate for the apparent lack of space.

Before tackling one room at a time, Leela and Ryan changed the wall color from greige to bright white so they could see the space for what it was, and went from there. The couple figured everything they needed to be done could be tackled in a weekend, and instead, projects ended up taking weeks or months. “Naive optimism is important with any home project,” Leela admits, “Otherwise, you wouldn’t do it!” —Annie

Photography by Ryan Ivie

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An Artful Home Above a Bookstore, on Design*Sponge
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In the Fort Greene, Brooklyn apartment of Leela Ivie Joshi and Ryan Ivie, a cozy reading corner functions as more of a napping corner, in reality.
An Artful Home Above a Bookstore, on Design*Sponge
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Leela and Ryan started with IKEA furniture, then bought or made the perfect pieces for their space as time passed. They are continually switching items out as they find things they love or come up with an idea for a project.
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A plant wall in the living room provides greenery to the second-floor home lacking outdoor space.
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The couple saw these blocks and loved their vibrant colors. As Leela and Ryan don't have any children, visitors are sometimes confused by the toys' presence in the home!
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Leela made the bentwood bookshelves for the workspace area, and was able to use some leftover material from that project for a bentwood laptop charging station.
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As avid readers with a vast and varied book collection, the pair wanted to highlight their eclectic book assortment. "I wanted all of the different books and journals to be happily jumbled together," Leela says. Julie Davis painted the small portrait to the right, and the other paintings and collages are by Leela.
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The modular bookshelf is made of two mold pieces - one for straight walls that can be turned four ways to vary the line of the overall bookcase, as well as a corner piece.
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The addition of the kitchen island expands the functionality of the room. Without it, the kitchen was just tucked away in a corner.
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Leela painted the area above the kitchen cabinets matte charcoal and then doodled mehndi designs on it with a chalkboard marker. The drawings have stayed intact for five years - she just doesn’t dust with a wet cloth!
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The hallway acts as a gallery space for many of Leela's paintings.
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Detail of some vibrant paintings by Leela.
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The pair painted the bathroom with blue chalkboard paint, then Leela scribbled northern Indian-inspired architectural details on the walls and ceiling. She thought the humidity in the room would erase the drawings and she'd be constantly making new marks on the space, but nothing has disappeared.
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"We are very much outgrowing our space," Leela admits. "This is pretty apparent when you see the upholstered chair in our bathroom." She found a great deal on this Jonathan Adler chair and figured she'd find a place for it. But once it was home, it didn’t fit anywhere except in the abnormally large bathroom (by New York standards).
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The location of the window exposes the children’s section of a downstairs bookstore. "Ah, the joys of New York living," Leela jokes. She and Ryan keep the bathroom window permanently covered.
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Decorative baskets holding bath towels allow for storage in plain sight.
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The bedroom needed to store books, art supplies, and clothes without looking like a storage unit. Vintage suitcases from the Brooklyn Flea inspired the burlap, canvas, and upholstery nailed-walls. Ryan loves the subdued colors.
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Leela and Ryan needed more book space, so they added floating bookshelves around the cabinets and postcards.
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The milk crate was found in an antique store in Portland, Oregon, where Leela and Ryan both grew up drinking Alpenrose milk. It currently holds fabric scraps.
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These are IKEA kitchen cabinets and Billy bookcases with doors wrapped in stretched canvas and painted. The same upholstery nails and trim used on the walls finish the doors' interiors, and vintage handles were added as a finishing touch.
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Vintage postcards from the 1900s were found at a Paris flea market.
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"What we love most about our home is the personalised detail." - Leela Ivie Joshi and Ryan Ivie
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The Fort Greene apartment's one-bedroom layout.

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Comments

  • I really like the customised details such as that chalkboard with paisley style design over the kitchen cupboards and also the chalk walls in the bathroom. There are some great colour choices and, are those antiqued mirrored doors on those bookshelves? Then there’s the curved plywood shelf in the workspace/study. I could go on but this is so original and so fun – oh and some great art as well.

    • Thanks Margot! The Antiqued Mirror doors are actually just IKEA Billy Bookshelf glass doors that I used a mixture of mirror spray paint, gold spray paint and water on to look mottled and antiqued. Super easy way to turn our bookshelf into a food pantry!

  • Love Love your home. I love nudes have several all over my bathroom walls. Got some ideas for my space. Thank you

    • Oh, I got too excited and posted without going to the next slide. I see they are made from molds somehow. Probably a bit out of my league :D

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