Shell Martinez first came across this loft space in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn a decade ago while working as a real estate agent. At the time, long before the neighborhood was deemed one of the last great deals in the city, people were far from interested in the area. Full of old factories, it lacked the curated ruggedness of neighboring Williamsburg and Park Slope. Plus, the rental was pretty big. At 2,800 square feet, the loft was an investment many weren’t willing to make in an up-and-coming zip code.
For months, Shell sat with her lunch between showings wondering if she’d ever be able to find a tenant. Then one day, while peering around and imagining the space’s possibilities, genius struck. She realized the perfect renter had been there all along: herself. It really was a no-brainer. She’d already fallen for the area, and countless showings had left Shell with many thoughts on how she could utilize the loft. With gusto, she signed on the dotted line and moved right in.
After doing so, Shell transformed the rental into the hub for Shell’s Loft, her brand of collaborative creative spaces. Now with multiple locations scattered across Clinton Hill, the four lofts play host to community dinners, political rallies, networking events and photo shoots. This one in particular is special, though. Not only was it the first in the foursome, but Shell also calls it “home.”
Admittedly, finding the balance between furniture that worked for her nine to five as well as her personal life presented a challenge. Not only did she need to feel comfortable enough to lounge and unwind here, but she also needed pieces that would easily fit into her clients’ wide variety of styles. In the end, streamlined items proved best. They afford Shell a simple backdrop that’s ready and waiting to be amplified by interesting accessories, depending on a particular event’s needs. This constant flux is perfect for gemini Shell, too: “Constant change is my jam,” she tells us.
Without a doubt, the neighborhood couldn’t have found a better resident in Shell. See, she’s what I call a “connector.” Never one to turn down hosting, connectors are always eager to support local businesses, bring people together and are just plain fun. They sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve, but these individuals are always a determining factor in whether or not a neighborhood thrives. And we need them more than ever. Scroll down to check out her space, and enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Dag Bennstrom
Image above: Some of Shell’s favorite memories were made here around her Friendsgiving table while catching up with loved ones. “I close my business for the weekend and invite my friends from around the world to stay with me for a long weekend in NYC. The first [Friendsgiving] is particularly special to me because it happened just after Hurricane Sandy. [I] had friends whose places were flooded and had no power come stay [with me]. It became one big mix of friends, family and several strangers at one huge [makeshift] table,” Shell says.
Baskets – Kazi Goods
Portrait – Frans Smit
Geometric poster – Louise Gray
Art on wall ledge – Helon Melonza
Abstract painting – Robert Bonhomme
Sculpture – Keri Muller
Ceramic art – Chantel Woodman
Coffee mugs – H&M
Peg board – IKEA
Coffee accessories – CB2
Petrified wood board – Terrain
Lighting – Color Cord Company
Bedding – Anchal Project
Throw pillow – Bonnie and Neil
Wall quilt – Louise Gray
Throw pillows – homemade with Design Team fabric