Tiina Treasure and her husband Danny Fernandez (plus their cats, Frida and Bowser) live in a Brooklyn apartment they’ve just recently finished repairing, decorating and creating a home within. Danny is a high school teacher and Tiina is a psychiatric social worker. However, Tiina got her BFA in film production — which she pursued before switching gears — and she still loves design, photography, art, and creative-based endeavors. All of Tiina’s interests came into full view (and practice) as they were renovating their first apartment that they bought a year ago.
The search for their home wasn’t especially simple. It took a year to find an apartment in their price range, with their list of hopefuls: a large (for New York) one-bedroom, with dual exposure, and one that was close to transportation. One thing Tiina hadn’t expected was to buy a fixer-upper. It was the fourth apartment the couple put an offer on, and Danny was encouraging about the idea of fixing up a space and making it their own. Initially the couple was hoping to stay in the Bay Ridge area they had been living in for the past seven years, but they enjoy their new neighborhood of Kensington. “While it was hard to leave Bay Ridge, we’ve really come to love the neighborhood — especially getting to gawk at all the beautiful front lawns and having access to Prospect Park.” Tiina jokes, “So what if all the diners close at like 4 pm?”
After closing on the home just before New Year’s Day of 2017, the couple didn’t waste any time getting everything set up. “We made quick work of the early renovation process, demo’ing the kitchen, taking up the old vinyl tiles, refinishing floors, skim coating and painting,” Tiina shares. “We’re not DIY people so we hired out folks, but skipped the general contractor and I managed the project.” They moved in less than two months later, despite having no gas or water in the kitchen. Whatever reluctance Tiina had initially about their fixer-upper was quickly pushed aside when their projects were all wrapped up, and she got to revel in their hard work and determination.
Photography by Tiina Treasure
Image Above: The couple’s foyer features an enviable built-in perfect for displaying some of their most cherished treasures and collections, beautifully contrasting with the wall color.
“This is us! Danny’s Bowser obsession runs deep,” Tiina shares, referring to Danny’s shirt (which is also a nod to his cat who shares the same name).
“I love this built-in unit and I use it to display a rotating assortment of things we’ve collected. The conch shell is the product of too much rum punch on a cruise and the Bienvenidos sign is from our wedding. Also, the wall hanging was done by a friend of mine and is actually concealing our large circuit breaker. Everything has a purpose,” Tiina admits.
Tiina shares one of her more subtle DIYs, “I have a big secret. That trunk is actually concealing our litter box. It’s the one DIY that we’ve done that hasn’t been an absurd failure. There’s a hole on the side for the cats to go into and it also serves as a place to take off our winter boots.”
Tiina shares a simple rule for decorating: “It’s true. You can never have too many plants.”
“This is the view from our entry. I love the arches in our apartment that are mimicked on the built-in,” Tiina explains. “In a small space like this, I think these touches really help make a place feel special and cohesive.”
“When we got the sofa with the chaise lounge we thought that humans would get to sit on it, but it has not worked out that way,” Tiina teases. “Regardless, this leather behemoth from IKEA has been the only thing that has been able to withstand the little ones’ claws. So we’ll call it 1-1 in the cat vs. human games.”
“Rope chairs haunted my dreams till I found this one at the Brooklyn Flea. It is universally loved by all humans and cats in our apartment. It’s only empty in this photo because I shoo’ed a cat out of it. Sorry, cat,” Tiina admits.
“I had wanted vintage rugs for a very, very long time before I pulled the trigger. I scoured eBay and ultimately bought four at one time site unseen. A lot of time, the reality does not live up to the expectation. This was not one of those times. I would buy them 100 times over and I really feel like they add so much to every room,” Tiina shares.
“When I designed the kitchen I was really worried that it would end up feeling like a bowling alley,” Tiina jokes. “So I made one side a full pantry and kept the other side more minimal with no upper cabinets, just open shelving. I feel like having this space too symmetrical would just make it feel more narrow and claustrophobic. I went with my gut on this one and I’m really glad I did.”
“My organizational system in the kitchen is pretty simple. Ugly things go in cabinets, pretty things don’t. I love having these rails to store all of our stainless steel tools and pots, but don’t think that there isn’t also another drawer with a ton of nonstick frying pans,” Tiina shares.
“This is my favorite spot in our house. The kitchen was the one thing we did completely from scratch and I couldn’t be more pleased with it,” Tiina shares. “Having two windows and space for a breakfast nook was what sold me on this apartment. I guess you could say I was blinded by the light. Cue Bruce Springsteen.”
“I really, really wanted a slide-in range and I’m really happy I went ahead and spent the money on one. Sometimes it’s worth scrimping on other things to splurge on something you really care about. Also, ignore the french press in the sink. D’oh.”
“I’ve always had a hodgepodge of dishware before and when I decided to use open shelving, I knew that would have to change. I chose dishes from West Elm and Bed Bath & Beyond in a greyscale color palette to keep the space looking tidy. It was important to me to have cohesion without feeling like a boxed set,” Tiina explains.
“Our books were a big source of contention when we moved. I love books, but I don’t love
looking at books — but design and marriage are both about compromise. I like how we used them here and I hope that maybe someday we can switch out the IKEA Billy’s for built-in units.”
A sentimental score hangs above the couple’s bed: “The nautical map above our bed was something I picked up from a stoop sale for $10. It’s of the waters between Havana and Tampa. I grew up in the Tampa Bay area and Danny’s family is from Cuba. So buying it was a no-brainer. I’m not really into having a lot of photos, but I love pieces like this that were found but have a very intimate connection with our history.”
“This was another DIY-don’t. I got this dresser because I loved the lines but it was covered in layers and layers of paint. I wonder where I got the name for my
blog,” Tiina jokes. “I thought stripping the paint would be a weekend process and it turned into an albatross. Long story short, its shabby-chic finish was not the intended goal but it’s where I ended up. Maybe someday I’ll pick up the mantle again to fight the good fight but for now I’m fine with a ‘lived-in’ look. The plants don’t mind one bit.”
“We only stripped one screw attempting to install these sconces. DIY is not our strong suit.”
“We’ve traveled to Mexico several times and I love picking up ceramic pieces to take home,” Tiina says. “This pig dish actually holds earrings and the tiny cup made for Mezcal has rings in it. I love having everyday reminders of our trips, especially when I’m dealing with the Monday-Friday nine-five grind.”
“Our apartment has four closets and two in the bedroom. In NY terms, that’s pretty good when it comes to storage but it’s never enough,” Tiina admits. “Those wicker baskets act as our impromptu linen closet and I’m pretty pleased with that combination of form and function.”
“I am so absurdly thankful that we got to buy a place in NYC. It felt like an impossible goal for a social worker and teacher, but we did it! The purchasing process was intense to say the least, but I’m so happy that we pushed through and got the one that we did,” Tiina shares. “I’m also suuuuuper thankful for Danny for having the gumption to actually push us to get a fixer-upper and make it our own. I was terrified, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Being involved in the design community of Instagram has also helped to encourage and inspire me along the way. It’s great to have a bunch of strangers tell you to walk away from the paint brush when you suggest painting something a bizarro color.”
Tiina explains what makes their home special, “It’s a pretty standard apartment in NYC terms. Pre-war, has good molding but nothing particularly exciting. I think that the most
unusual aspect of our home is that the kitchen is an actual EIK [Eat In Kitchen] and it has dual exposures. Heart eyes emoji.”
Paint- Benjamin Moore, “ Witching Hour” and “Simply White”
Wall Hanging- byTonz
Rabbit Print- Israel Salcedo
Desk Lamp- Target
Chandelier- Original to apartment
Deer Mask- Stoop Sale
Other Art- Thrifted or from family
Step Stool- IKEA
Trunk- Vintage from Yesterdays News
Pillows- Grandma and Amazon
Mirror- IKEA (no longer available, similar)
Rug- RugSelect via Ebay
Paint- Benjamin Moore, “Balboa Mist” and “Simply White”
Cabinets- IKEA, Laxarby Style
Countertops- Nobel Grey Caesarstone
Hardware- House of Antique Hardware: Large Mission Pull, Brass Knob, and Brass Bin Pull
Kitchen Rails- IKEA
Dishware, Glassware, and Cookware- West Elm, CB2, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, IKEA, and thrifts
Subway Tile- Home Depot
Grout- Polyblend Oyster Grey
Exhaust Hood and Stove- IKEA, Stove & Exhaust Hood
Knife Rack- IKEA
Paint- Benjamin Moore, “Glacier White” and “Simply White”
Dresser- Vintage, Big Reuse
Mud Cloth- Brooklyn Reclamation
Pillows- Grandma, Target, IKEA, Gravel and Gold, Etsy Pillow
Rug- RugSource via Ebay
Record Cabinet- IKEA, exact item not available online, but from same collection
Record Stand- Vintage, Yesterdays News
Rope Chair- Tall John at Brooklyn Flea
Lamps- Target and Thrifted
Entertainment Center- IKEA
Coffee Table- Vintage, Flux Modern
Wall Hanging- Grandma
Paint- Benjamin Moore, “Classic Gray” and “Simply White”
Sconces- Pottery Barn
Linens and Pillows- Target ( 1, 2, 3), IKEA, and Amazon
Wicker Baskets- Vintage, Bellmore Flea
Chair- Curb Find
Mirror- IKEA and Thrifted, similar
Rug- RugSource, Ebay