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A Radical Pre-War Rental in Flatbush

by Garrett Fleming

A Radical Pre-War Rental in Flatbush, Design*Sponge

Upon walking into the lobby of this 1930s apartment building in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, one’s greeted by ornate ceiling details and a stately fireplace emblazoned with a green alligator. Continue up to the sixth-floor apartment of ceramicist Caitlin Rose Sweet and Andre Azevedo, who works in TV and film, and you’ll come across even more original ornamentation that, albeit more restrained, is no less special.

Oftentimes spaces with classical architectural POVs such as this one are decorated with finds that complement the overall look. Caitlin and Andre, however, have taken their rental’s storied elements and paired them with a collection of radical accessories not typically seen in such traditional spaces. Stroll into the living room and you’ll find an emoji pillow resting on a chair shaped like a high heel. Head into the couple’s bedroom, and black trim frames a crocheted bikini hanging on a pale pink wall.

On the surface, accessorizing with bikinis and other cheeky finds may come across as haphazard, but Caitlin and Andre tell us their work on the space aims to evoke a feeling, not achieve a specific look. Caitlin says, “Decorating has reinforced my belief in… the power of objects we surround ourselves with. As queer people, creating a home space that feels safe and full of love has been healing. It gives us the strength to go face the world.” They pay no mind to matching or what others think is the right way to decorate. And the results will leave you smiling. Scroll down to check it out, and enjoy! Garrett

Photography by Caitlin Rose Sweet

Image above: Sage from the couple’s wedding and gold chain art by Caitlin hang above the pair’s bed.

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The building was designed by William Thomas McCarthy in the 1930s. “It’s basically a mini castle,” the pair says.

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Ornate details like this fireplace in the lobby nod to the building’s inspiration: the 126-year-old Château Frontenac in Quebec.

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“We have so many good memories in this apartment. This is the first place that has felt like home since I was a kid. Marriage/partnership/cohabitation wasn’t something I was looking for, but it has been a transformative and healing process to build [a] home with someone,” Caitlin says. The pair even got married here one morning while eating waffles with their friends.

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Painting the bedroom’s trim black helps the traditional accent to complement the radical accessories it frames.

I feel like social media has created this monoculture of what design should be like. Folks should really let their personal touch shine.

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For Caitlin, decorating a home is a never-ending process. “Moving around decor and furniture shifts energy. It [irks me] when I visit old friends and they have the same things on the walls… haven’t you changed and grown over the years?! Why is your space stuck?” she says.

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A swan lamp illuminates Caitlin’s collection of jewelry. She purchased the watermelon earrings from a 10-year-old girl who was selling her work at Brooklyn Pride.

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Andre’s own artwork hangs above this dresser.

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The pair are firm believers in the “restorative” and healing power of plants. Some of their greenery lives here in one of Caitlin’s creations.

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This piece of art by Craig Calderwood was Caitlin’s anniversary gift to Andre. It hangs across from their bed.

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The sunny living room.

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Posters from various art exhibits grace the apartment’s walls.

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Cheeky accessories in the living room.

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This side of the living room isn’t only quirky — it’s meaningful. The rug, for example, was Caitlin’s great grandmother’s: “She came to the U.S. between the wars to escape the violence against Jews,” Caitlin begins, “She rolled up her few belongings in the rug.”

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Vintage accessories decorate one of the living room’s corners.

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“Caring for the home feels like I am caring for myself, Andre, and our love.” – Caitlin Rose Sweet

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“Our favorite thing about our home is that it gives us sanctuary.” – Caitlin Rose Sweet and Andre Azevedo

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The 900-square-foot apartment’s layout.

SOURCE LIST

Bedroom
Art –Craig Calderwood, Andre Azevedo, Caitlin Rose Sweet
Crotched bikini – Mikki Yamashiro

Living Room
Ceramics – Caitlin Rose Sweet
Art – Adee Roberson, Grace Rosario Perkins, Luba Lukova, Levi Dugat

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Comments

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE it ! Personal, warm, sexy, restorative, political! Clearly a place for artists with a buzzy sense of community,creativity, relationship, life and resistance ! Inspiring.

  • what a breathe of fresh air, I LOVE the originality and quirkiness. that pink and black bedroom shines! the crochet over the bedroom that spells out TROUBLE! That high heel chair is the BEST, esp with the poop pillow! I would love to see the kitchen. Nevermind, I would move in anyway, even if just a hotplate and dorm fridge.

    • Thank you! Our kitchen is a classic brooklyn situation super tight, the fridge door doesn’t even open fully. But it’s bigger than a dorm fridge.

  • They’re so right: social media HAS made home decor styles extremely homogenous. It’s so nice when sites strive to show us something more unique rather than the cookie cutter beige/tan/taupe MCM or boho inspired looks that so many people are doing now.

  • People think pale white empty lofts are the New York style, but for me this extreme individualism and creativity are the true exemplars. Thank you for this post.