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A Beautifully Curated Brooklyn Apartment Split Between Work & Home Life

by Lauren Chorpening

A Beautifully Curated Brooklyn Apartment Split Between Work and Home Life | Design*Sponge

Working from home is a challenge that I never totally understood until I was in the full-time-freelance swing in 2016. Carving out dedicated work space isn’t just a helpful tip to stay focused during work hours, it’s a necessity when you want to step away from the reminder of work at the end of the day. In Will Ellis and Alicia Scardetta‘s 750-square-foot brownstone apartment in Brooklyn, NY, they’ve created a space that works hard as Alicia’s fiber art studio, Will’s home office, and the house they enjoy together. Alicia is a fiber artist, workshop instructor at the Textile Arts Center and works full-time as the Wholesale Accounts Manager at Coral & Tusk. Will is an architectural photographer and author. Finding a space in their desired neighborhood of Sunset Park that had the extra room, charm and right price wasn’t an easy task but once they found it, they immediately set about making it a home. “It was a bit rough around the edges, with its original fireplaces missing and a kitchen that hadn’t been updated in decades — but we fell in love with the warm wood details, creaky floors, and ornate ceilings and moldings,” Will explains.

While some dual-purpose spaces can feel cluttered or more utilitarian than beautiful, Alicia and Will have curated a cohesive home with collected objects from the city and their travels, as well as handmade pieces by Alicia. “Practically, it was a challenge to fit a lot of different uses into 750 square feet of living space. I often work from home and Alicia needs a dedicated studio space for her artwork, so our front room has to serve as the living room, dining room, home office, and indoor nursery for our growing collection of houseplants. It’s just enough space for the two of us, but we don’t see ourselves hosting any lavish dinner parties,” Will shares. “We’re both passionate collectors and like to really consider anything that comes into our home, and we’re at the point where we almost always agree.”

Getting that cohesive yet collected feel down helps their space transform from an office to a home, and it took some time to get it there. Now that they’ve been in their apartment for 18 months, they’ve gotten it to a point where they feel that it is more or less finished. “We always feel a sense of relief and belonging when we come in. Our home feels very warm and personal to us, and evenings are a time [when] we can catch up, sit down with a drink and enjoy it. It’s a feeling of being grounded and at peace — especially when the house is tidy and everything is in its place,” Will says. “Take inspiration from the trends you like, but remember to embrace your own eccentricities and interests to create a home that feels unexpected and personal, not just blandly on-trend. Be intentional about every item you bring into your home and don’t rush it!” I think that advice and this couple’s home are just perfect.Lauren

Photography by Will Ellis

Image Above: The tall ceilings, bay window and ornamental details of their previous apartment were elements they didn’t want to give up when they started looking for their new place. This main level apartment isn’t huge but it has a great layout and spare bedroom to accommodate all of the functions of the space while still feeling like a well-appointed home.

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The front room houses Will's office area, the living room and the dining space. From there it flows into the kitchen and leads to the main bedroom and Alicia's studio.
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Will and Alicia have been thoughtful with each piece that has entered their home.
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"We brought very little furniture from our old apartment because we’d been living with a lot of communal hand-me-down junk that dated back to our college days," Will shares. "Little by little we’ve replaced those items with pieces we love and plan on having for years to come. We’re not there yet but that’s the point —we never want our home to be 'finished.' It’s a process of collecting and curating over a lifetime and we’re just getting started."
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Will's work area is set up by the front bay window with great natural light for editing images.
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An antique Globe-Wernicke barrister bookcase serves as Will’s beloved “curio cabinet.” A lifelong collector, Will has amassed a variety of enigmatic objects, including decaying toys, cast iron banks, leather-bound books, and flea market bric-a-brac from around the world.
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"The home has only had three owners in over 100 years. We’ve found some interesting items here and there — including religious tracts from the 1940s in the pocket doors and a very old wishbone lodged in the radiator of our bedroom, which would have been a formal dining room when it was originally built. We love how the history of the building is visible throughout the apartment, in every crack in the plaster, in the worn wood patina and in each antique fixture." Alicia and Will have added their own mark on the character of their home. This gilded mirror was found on top of a trash heap on the Upper West Side and has lovingly made its home in the main living area.
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A woven wall hanging by Alicia is displayed in the dining area, one of the few she’s kept for herself. The piece was her first large-scale work and took over six months to complete, created by hand-wrapping and weaving colorful yarn around a rope warp.
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The front room isn't the only space with many functions -- their bedroom also houses their shared library. "Another weaving by Alicia hangs over the bed. On the bookshelf, my vintage horror stories and NYC history tomes mingle with Alicia’s books on textiles and contemporary fiction," Will shares.
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Their minimal-meets-eclectic style allows their home to house a variety of aesthetics that work together in a one-of-a-kind way.
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"We feel like the house started coming together when we came back from our honeymoon in Morocco, where we’d picked up some awesome rugs from an amazing little shop we found in the Fez medina," Alicia shares. "We chose one Beni Ourain rug, the type you see everywhere these days, but when the dealer saw we weren't satisfied with the selection, he invited us to another area where he rolled out an amazing vintage boucherouite rug. It was filthy, having been used on a dirt floor for many years, but the patterns and colors you could make out were so beautiful and unique. We later learned about the tradition of boucherouite rugs while in Marrakesh at the tiny Boucherouite Museum. The rugs are made by hand in Berber villages by women for use in their own homes or as wedding gifts for their children. In these areas wool is too expensive so villagers weave with scraps of old clothes and textiles. We bought this particular rug as-is and didn’t realize until we got home just how dirty and mildewy it was. Will had to get down on his hands and knees in the bathtub scrubbing it for hours to get it clean with a tub of OxiClean. We dried it the traditional way by hanging it out on the fire escape for about a week. We feel so lucky to have this amazing work of art in our home, it’s our favorite element in the apartment."
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"As renters, we had very few options in terms of actually renovating — when we first got here the walls were a yellowish-cream color that we hated and it took some convincing for the landlords to even let us put up a coat of white paint," Alicia says. "Changing out some switch plates and doing a deep clean was about all we could do, so the focus has been on the furniture and objects we bring in, not to mention lots of plants!"
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Alicia and Will's cat, Church, has done his part to create connections in their neighborhood. "New Yorkers aren’t always the most neighborly bunch but we felt welcomed by our new microcommunity, including the revolving roster of young couples who live above and below us. Just after we moved in, our cat Church went missing and Will was convinced he had run out the front door when he wasn’t looking," Alicia shares. "He met so many neighbors that day who pitched in to look for him. Later we found Church in a closed dresser drawer, but it made for a funny story to tell his new friends the next time they passed each other on the street."
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Alicia's love for color is unleashed in her art studio. She can explore and create in her own space.
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"Alicia's work is largely comprised of one-of-a-kind woven wall pieces that explore the structural variables of tapestry weaving. The vibrant colors, wrapped elements and unexpected compositions found in her work are largely drawn from objects associated with girlhood; including friendship bracelets, jump ropes and hair braids. By weaving these elements associated with her personal memories and identity into her work, Alicia achieves a unique, playful quality with every piece," Will shares.
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Collecting and displaying found pieces of inspiring color, images, forms and textures is part of Alicia's creative process. Having this mood board above her desk keeps her inspiration front of mind.

SOURCE LIST

Living Area

Sofa – Joybird
Coffee Table – World Market
Lounge Chair – Masaya & Co.
Embroidered Pillows – Coral and Tusk
Side Tables and Antique photo – street finds
Table Lamp – eBay
Beni Ourain Rug, Tuareg Tent Pegs – Morocco
Throw – Garza Marfa
Bookcase – Antique Globe Wernicke
Large Ceramic Vase – Recreation Center
Framed Artwork – Molly M Design

Dining Area

Table – Modway
Chairs – TON
Lamp – France & Son Acapulco
Basket – Alicia’s Grandma
Papier-mâché watermelons – Alicia’s Great Grandma
Wall Hanging – Alicia Scardetta
Pink ceramic vase – Lail Design

Office Area

Desk – Amazon
File Cabinet – Poppin
Table Fan – Vornado
Lamp – Ikea
Rug – West Elm
Floor Cushion – Coral and Tusk
Curtain Tie Back – Alicia Scardetta
Papier-mâché Taxidermy – John Derian
Planters – Rejuvenation
Mirror – street find

Bedroom

Bedding – Serena and Lily
Lumbar Pillow – Coral and Tusk
Shelves, Dresser, Lamps – Ikea
File Cabinet – Vintage
Headboard and Small Rug – West Elm
Boucherouite Rug – Morocco
Bedside Tables – street finds
Wall Hanging – Alicia Scardetta
Baskets – Rejuvenation

Studio

Desk – Vintage Steelcase
Pillow – Coral and Tusk
Shelves, lamp, cart – IKEA
Chair – Wayfair
Rug – West Elm
Pompom Garland – Little Louise NYC
Evil Eye and Moon Garland – The Great Lakes Goods
Mug – Recreation Center
Cactus and Black Cat Sculptures – Forever Paper
Weavings – Alicia Scardetta

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Comments

  • Love this home!! Funny about Moroccan rugs, in high school I went on an educational spring break trip to Spain and we went on a day trip to Morocco (I still think about the food even though this was about 9 years ago). These two girls on my trip were enlisted by their parents to buy rugs and so they bought all these rugs and had them shipped to the US and then opened them and saw that they were made in China!!! Haha. That rug looks gorgeous in the bedroom though. I have a beautiful wall hanging I bought in Granada, Spain and it may not be handmade but I will always cherish it.

  • Love this little home. The lawyer’s bookcase and the bedroom shelves caught my eye. Alicia has wonderfully skilled at creating balance and interest in her displays. The whole place is just candy for the eyes. Well done.

  • For me it was also very important to have my own work space at home. Working from home can truly be a bit of a drag sometimes and I felt that it was necessary to create a work space so I could stay focused more easily, but also so at the end of my workday I could close the door, leave my workroom and enjoy my sparetime without being confronted with any work stuff.

  • it’s really difficult to see past the pop-up ads on your site. so many beautiful photos with ads covering them up. bummer!

    • This was actually an ad server glitch and is fixed now. We would never intentionally serve ads over content!

      Caitlin

  • To our readers who have reached out about pop-up ads covering the page, we are very sorry for the inconvenience and we are looking into why this is happening.

    Thanks so much for your patience,

    Kelli

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