Jen’s Studio – progress report

I wrote about my friend Jen’s new Brooklyn studio a couple months ago and posted some “before” pictures here. I’ve been back twice to hang out, offer design advice, and to document her progress towards a comfortable, bright, welcoming home where she can relax, work, and entertain friends.

Here are two photos of the apartment just after she moved in…before she unpacked all her boxes. It’s cozy (i.e. small!), but the great light from her three big windows make it feel bright & spacious.

When Jen moved in, she hung some colorful curtains for privacy, but wanted to replace them with something more chic and sophisticated. She also knew she wanted a new rug to help define the living room space. She had a perfectly-sized round table and four chairs, but didn’t love the “country” style. She needed to buy a new bed. And we realized that the baseboards were white in the bedroom nook but natural wood colored in the living area. So we came up with a long list of potential improvements that she’s been working on over the past few months. Yesterday I got to snap some photos of all the progress she’s made!

One of the first things Jen did was to give the baseboards throughout the apartment a fresh coat of glossy white paint. This small detail really helped the entire space look more crisp and fresh.

For the living room, we found some beautiful curtains at West Elm that stylishly filter the sunlight. Jen waited for them to go on sale and has been really happy with her purchase. She also chose a natural fiber rug that helps define the living room space and feels really good on bare feet! And she did a great job covering up the boring standard-issue light fixture with a simple, inexpensive paper shade that gently diffuses the light.

To make this room feel more finished, she plans to hang the mirror above the fireplace mantle and her grandmother’s antique frames on the wall. She’s thinking about creating botanic art for the frames to add a colorful, handmade touch to the room. We’re also talking about maybe spray painting the table & chairs for a modern update!

From the living room you can see into the kitchen.

In the kitchen, Jen hung some beautiful antique ceiling tile pieces she found at a local flea market. She has some very happy herbs on the windowsill. I’ve suggested a simple roman shade for the kitchen window. She’d also like to add some shelving up high for additional storage, and we’re going to look for a narrow shelving solution for the 9.5″ space between the counter and the stove.

Here’s a look back into the dining area from the kitchen.

Jen’s bedroom nook is also looking a lot more put together with a bed, a dresser + mirror, an armoire, coordinated storage boxes, and curtains covering the apartment’s two closets. I especially like the picture ledge she hung above the bed where she can display and rotate her favorite family and travel photos.

Jen’s next project for this space is to hang curtains that will separate the bedroom nook from the living area when she wants privacy, and to block light when she wants to sleep in late. She’s also going to replace one of the white closet curtains with a colorful one to add more interest. Additionally, we talked about adding one or two storage shelves above the armoire to take advantage of her high ceilings. That way all three black & white storage boxes can live together and there will be more space above the closet where she can store her window air conditioner during the cold weather months.

Finally, here’s a photo of the entrance to her apartment.

The door to her apartment is literally at the foot of her bed. In order to create separation between the “entryway” and her bedroom nook, I’ve suggested three simple changes: 1) spray paint the coat rack a fun bright color; 2) add a cheerful round rug that coordinates with the coat rack; and 3) replace the existing light fixture with a pretty feminine capiz shell chandelier. A few other ideas include adding a small shelf and key hook by the front door for small things that you want to drop off immediately upon arriving home, like mail and your cell phone, hanging a mirror or piece of art to cover the grey fuse box behind the coat rack, and installing a fabric curtain above the closet to hide the suitcase and other bulky items. All of these details together will create more of an entryway/dressing area that will feel separate from the bedroom.

It has been so fun for me to get to advise Jen as she creates this cozy home for herself! It’s such a bright and peaceful space and I’m delighted every time I get to visit.


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