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Family Bonding Atop a Brooklyn Brownstone

by Garrett Fleming

Sarah Coffey first visited the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY while covering a home makeover for Apartment Therapy. Vibrant, charming and filled with an abundance of brownstones, the area had Sarah immediately hooked. After the project wrapped, she would fantasize about moving there, not sure if it would ever actually happen — but it did. Her chance came when two close friends bought a three-story brownstone in the neighborhood and were on the hunt for a tenant. Needless to say, Sarah and her husband Steve jumped at the opportunity to leave their Upper West Side home and make the move.

With a resume that includes West Elm and Apartment Therapy, it’s no surprise that Sarah was able to quickly settle the family into the top floor of the walk-up. Her years working for the two brands taught her how to focus on curating a space that “feels good” and to avoid the fruitless act of chasing trends. Her knowledge of decluttering and home-cleansing also helped shape the house. “Traditional practices of moving [energy that’s] stuck, like [sage] smudging and using things like salt and sound to purify a space,” has proven to be invaluable when life gets hectic. Sarah developed such a passion for the practice that she recently opened up her own home-clearing business where she teaches “…mindful methods of clearing space, inside and out.”

These home-clearing methods in particular came in handy a year and a half ago when Sarah and Steve had their first child. Since baby Jack’s arrival, the Coffeys have gone about stylishly baby-proofing each room in their 115-year-old apartment, as well as cleansing the space so their little boy can flourish. As you click through the tour, pay close attention to the beautiful job the couple’s done switching up the rooms in the house. With a little elbow grease, they have strategically crafted a new bedroom out of a living space and seamlessly moved Jack into their old bedroom. All in all, the bright and cheery top-floor abode is primed for memory making, and the Coffey family couldn’t be more delighted. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Nick Steever

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When Jack was born, Sarah and Steve turned the family's second living area into their bedroom and turned their previous bedroom into a nursery. The two installed these pretty French doors to create separation between their new bedroom and the living area without cutting each space off from the other. Sarah was an Editorial Director for West Elm for four years, so naturally their pieces are peppered throughout her home. A rug and bedding from the popular store accompany a Design within Reach bed and IKEA dresser. They all sit in front of walls painted in Valspar "Modest Silver" and Benjamin Moore "Philipsburg Blue."
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Jack insisted on wearing leg warmers for this family portrait. His arrival a year and a half ago prompted Sarah and Steve to rearrange their space in order to truly turn their house into a home.
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Sarah bought this Nick Butcher painting for Steve when he completed his masters program.
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A tall dresser was a must when little Jack came along. Keeping valuables and breakables just out of his reach has grown harder as he has grown taller, but for now, this West Elm option does the trick.
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Sarah has had this Componibili piece for a long time. It's lived in nearly all of the apartment's rooms, from the living room to the bathroom and now the bedroom. Steve travels quite a bit working as a Creative Director for human rights advocates and social entrepreneurs. He brought this striped pillow back with him from a trip to Myanmar.
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Sarah and Steve adore "... mixing modern, vintage and global pieces together," as is evident in their living room. This wall hanging by Brooklyn's Front General Store, pillow by Nasozi Kakembo and acrylic coffee table from CB2 is a fun, eclectic combination. The stylish table is perfect for little Jack, too – no sharp edges!
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A West Elm wingback chair, and a peek inside the couple's bedroom.
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The Brooklyn walk-up has no closets, so vertical storage, like this elfa shelving system, is a nice way for the family to stay organized.
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"Steve picked up these Russian matryoshka dolls on a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg."
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"One of my favorite things about our home is the molding and architectural details. We used contrasting paint colors and a vintage mirror to help play them up," Sarah explains. More West Elm furniture fills the bright dining room.
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Sarah cleverly places highly-reflective furniture, like this vintage dresser, near her home's windows. When it's sunny, the piece's finish reflects incoming light and bounces it around the space. The lamp belonged to her grandmother, and Benjamin Moore "Wythe Blue" helps the walls' inlays pop.
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"I use sage smudge sticks to help clear our home from time to time. My favorite ones come from Juniper Ridge," Sarah says. The sage accompanies a photo of Steve's grandfather and Japanese pottery from The Hill-side.
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Pops of red help give the kitchen its "graphic" look.
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To free up cabinet space for food, Steve installed these peg boards to hang pots and pans from.
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Guests are greeted by the entryway's impactful vintage decor. "Steve and I love Antonioni's 1960s movie 'Blow-Up.' The interiors, the clothes, the photography and the Jane Birkin cameo are all amazing. Plus, we really like the way the red looks against the blue wall," Sarah says.
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"Our home is filled with these little, ever-changing tableaus of candles, stones, crystals, flowers, plants and pieces that have meaning to us."
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Jack's bedroom, which was once his parents', serves as the home's evolving art gallery. Adding new pieces to it has proved to be a fun hobby for the family. His crib is from Community Playthings, and the rug is from West Elm.
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It's not uncommon to find Jack picking out a book and pretending to read it in his rocking chair.
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The 2-bedroom home, built in 1899, is on the third floor of a walk-up in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
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"[Here's] Jack waving goodbye after having pulled his pants off. He's in that phase right now," Sarah says with a laugh.

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