Interiorssneak peeks

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn

by Garrett Fleming

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

When scrolling through beautiful homes online, it’s easy to overlook the time and energy it took to craft each one’s style. I, for one, am totally guilty of this. Sometimes I assume that such pretty spaces must be unicorns: Homes that just came into being sans disagreement, compromise or tension. In reality, however, oftentimes there’s a direct correlation between how effortless a home appears and how much actual work went into making it look as such. Briana DeVoe White and Evan Ripley’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn railroad-style apartment is a great example of this. It’s cohesive and well-appointed now, but the two years they spent designing it were trying and not always easy.

Much of the tension throughout the process came as a result of the pair’s creative acumen. Briana’s painterly background and Evan’s work as an architect has instilled in each of them a very pointed opinion of not only how interiors should look, but the best way to go about bringing their look to life. “There were fights. Oh lord, there were fights. But we worked through them,” Briana says. The tumultuous undertaking taught the pair how to better communicate, make sure each other felt heard, and laid the groundwork for how they’ll handle disagreements in all aspects of their relationship moving forward. “This was no easy process, but it eventually cemented our love,” they tell us.

Not only did their relationship evolve amidst all of the little redecorating dramas, but the pair’s style morphed into a combination of their two aesthetics as well. Each room in the 650-square foot apartment features streamlined storage and clean lines (a testament to Evan’s architectural prowess) tied together by a color palette nodding to Briana’s hometown of Santa Fe, NM. A sweep of pastel watercolors, serape-style accessories and handmade items make it a truly personal space that stands out amongst the antique-filled brownstones NY’s known for.

This distinct contrast with the city that surrounds it is easily the most interesting attribute of the apartment. Outside its walls Brooklyn teems with people, street vendors and honking horns. Step inside, though, and the extremely well-organized, southwestern-inspired oasis will instantly calm anyone’s nerves. This dichotomy between look and locale is sure to win you over. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Eskayel

Image above: One of the most memorable nights the duo has spent in their Brooklyn apartment was when they had two friends over to help hang their wallpaper. They turned it into a dinner party. “Proof that you can hang wallpaper while drinking wine!” they tell us.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

The shape of the coffee table – which Evan designed and made – was crafted to play off of the curves of the side chair it accompanies. To determine if the coffee table would comfortably fit into the room, Briana and Evan cut a piece of cardboard to scale so they could see it in context.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Briana and Evan have very strong opinions about how their apartment should look and how to best achieve their respective styles. Decorating this rental has taught them how to work as a team and be better communicators.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

A closer look at the Eskayel wallpaper Briana designed. “The pattern was inspired by travels in Morocco and paintings by Paul Klee,” she explains.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

One of the couple’s decorating goals was to create a dedicated space for Evan’s (ever-growing) book collection. Given the home’s unusual railroad-style layout, achieving goals such as this meant the two had to be stringent planners.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

“The earthy pinks and browns feel like the desert, and the cow skull – brought to NYC from Santa Fe by [my] mom – bring[s] a bit of the west out east,” Briana shares.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Most weekends, Evan and Motley – the couple’s cat – nap here on the kitchen couch. This upholstery from Eskayel features a non-repeating pattern, so the couple says they “spent a huge amount of time at the upholsterer trying different layout options with the fabric.”

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Briana and Evan’s front door leads straight into their kitchen, leaving them with a choice between using the space as an entryway – ideal for boots and coats come winter – or as a spot to eat. At the end of the day, they felt having a place to host dinners was more important.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

“What we love most about our home is that it’s the first home we created together.” – Briana DeVoe White and Evan Ripley

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Facing their bed away from the entrance to their bedroom could’ve made the room feel blocked off and isolated. This semi-transparent headboard lets light through, though, so the choice works.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

The bedroom gets such brilliant natural light, Briana lays in bed and sunbathes while getting ready in the morning.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

The pair made the front room their bedroom not only because of its abundant light but because it has the best view. “We oriented our bed to look out the window specifically to enjoy this. It makes us feel connected to the rhythms of nature,” they say.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

They are limited on storage space, so to get Evan’s bike out of the way the couple mounted it and turned it into a makeshift art piece.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

The two rarely use the apartment’s second entrance. To make better use of the corner they’ve placed a chair and mirror near it, effectively turning the spot into a dressing area. The mirror was once an old factory door.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

It was too expensive to frame the large art piece – which is reflected in the bathroom mirror – so Briana and Evan wallpapered it to the wall.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

After growing increasingly frustrated with the bathroom’s old vanity, Briana and Evan impulsively tore it out one day. “We spent the rest of the weekend halfway regretting our choice, going back and forth to The Home Depot and IKEA, getting what we needed to hook up the plumbing and install a new vanity. It was the first big project we tackled together,” Briana says. A picture of the wall behind the vanity showing the many layers of previous tenants’ paint choices sits on Evan’s dresser as a friendly reminder of the love the pair has put into the rental.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

The at-home studio offers both Briana and Evan a dedicated spot to work.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Briana’s side of the at-home studio features watercolors and all she needs to create patterns for Eskayel.

Learning the Art of Compromise in Brooklyn, Design*Sponge

Briana and Evan’s apartment is railroad-style, so each room leads right into another. There aren’t any hallways.

Living Room
Wallpaper – Eskayel “Souk – Duomo”
Bookshelves – IKEA
Shell chair – France & Son
Rug – The Home Depot
Couch – abc Carpet & Home
Bookshelf – From the Source
Brass floor lamp – Article
Ceramic pot – Michael Dickey
Art storage – Briana’s brother
Pillows – Various fabrics from Eskayel

Couch upholstery – Eskayel “Majorelle – Lumier” by Olivia Provey
Table – IKEA
Walnut benches – France & Son
Large bowl – Fort Standard for Burke Decor
Mirror – consignment shop in Santa Fe

Headboard upholstery – Eskayel “Sultana – Blanca”
Bedding – Eskayel “Up For Anything”
Throw pillows – Eskayel “Canopy – Flint” and “Up For Anything – Glimmer”
Blanket – Coyuchi
Mirror – Craigslist
Bed, dresser, console – IKEA
Paintings – Briana DeVoe White
Ceramic vase – Michael Dickey
Pillow on chair – MAAT textiles
Armchair – France & Son
Case study planter – Room & Board
Pink planter – Sprout Home
Wooden planter – West Elm
Woven baskets – Connected Goods
Woven flat weave – abc Carpet & Home

Artwork – Helen Dealtry
Vanity, mirror, side table – IKEA
Bathmat – Cold Picnic
Alvar Aalto vase – Need Supply Co.
Custom shower curtain – artwork by Briana, made with Fine Art America
Archival print – ESKAYEL “Palmeraie – Duomo” by Shanan Campanaro
Planter, calla lily – Crest Hardware & Urban Garden Center
Hand-blown glass ceramic jewelry box – Keenan Polich for Quiet Storms

Table – Vintage
Shelves, art ledge – IKEA
Ceramic vase – Michael Dickey

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  • You write so beautifully Garrett. The tension between the two different styles is very evident yet has been resolved so beautifully. I for one would find this apartment with its railroad layout very challenging but these two have done an amazing job. And I love that coffee table – a perfect design for a very narrow room and complements the chair beautifully. The only thing I would comment on is that in the US there seems to be a lot of flexibility for tenants to put holes in walls even installing shelving and changing vanities which would not be permitted in my part of the world.

    • I agree Margot
      I think these two worked really hard to deliver something unique and they nailed it.
      In Australia we have been very limited to what we can do in a rental, I for one have managed to find the best rental I can live in and then made it home. Recently there is talk of making changes to the rental leases so renters can have more flexibility as home ownership esp in capital cities has become impossible for many people.

  • I think it’s great what they managed to do with this railroad layout! It is one of the most difficult layouts to compensate for. But it feels light, fresh and breezy. Way to go!

  • So nice to see a Brooklyn railroad apartment! Growing up, we lived in one until I was 7 in the Bushwhack area. The main difference from what I can see is that Briana and Evan’s living room was mine and my sister’s bedroom, and their office was our living room. We lived on the second floor and a family with SEVEN kids lived on the first floor. A family with 3 kids lived on the third. Our teenage babysitter lived in the other first floor apartment. She introduced us to the Bee Gees!!!! Needless to say, there was lots of sliding down the staircase rails and playing in the shared hallways :)

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