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In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with A Personal Twist

by Sofia Tuovinen

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
After renting an apartment in New York for several years, Matthew DeRosier and his partner Casey Gorrell analyzed their budget and realized that the cost of owning would come down to the same monthly figure as their rent. As buying an apartment became a realistic option, the couple began hunting for a home that would both fall within their price range and check off a few musts on their list. It didn’t take long for them to find “the one.” The 900-square-foot apartment, located in a pre-war building in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, had all the period charm they could wish for; architectural details like picture rails and molding, as well as a functioning layout that offered both openness and division. It was perfect in every way except one — someone else snapped it up before the couple had a chance to put in an offer.

When the apartment right under the one that Matt and Casey had fallen in love with came on the market a month later, they didn’t hesitate. Although the previous owners had made some design decisions that didn’t fall in line with the couple’s vision, the home had all the elements that had drawn them to the home above it. Having to think more about how to realize their vision and make changes within the limits of their budget also allowed Matt and Casey to think outside the box and finally create the home that they both had envisioned.

Matt and Casey’s home is the end result of many a night spent on Etsy, AptDeco, and Craigslist, searching for the perfect sized and priced vintage pieces that add to period charm they both love. In two years, the couple has found plenty of beautiful pieces from vintage shops and small businesses, each with a distinctive purpose. “We used to buy pieces that looked good but that either didn’t have enough storage or we couldn’t see ourselves keeping 10 years down the road. Now, we ask if the piece will fulfill a function or provide us with something we’re missing,” Matt shares. When asked about his favorite memory in the home, he points out, “For now there isn’t one favorite memory but instead, just being able to see the transformation of our home and knowing what went into the process of making it feel like ours.” With so many unique details, like a stenciled pineapple wall pattern and thoughtfully combined dark hues, it’s no wonder that Matt and Casey feel proud of what they’ve accomplished. Scroll down for a peek into their beautifully remodeled home that puts a personal twist on classic style! —Sofia

Photography by Samuel Morgan Photography / @SammySachs 

Image above: Matt and Casey love how their home is both open and divided at the same time. “We love the flow of these two rooms. You can see all the way from the dining nook into the living and dining room,” they say. Old kitchen cabinets gave way to a green piece from IKEA that holds all the couple’s dishes. 

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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Casey, a city planner at Department of Transportation, and Matt, an executive assistant at architecture firm SHoP Architects, have spent two years creating the home of their dreams in Brooklyn’s cozy Ditmas Park neighborhood. When walking down the streets, they can enjoy a small town feel without having to leave the city. “We love feeling like we’re not in the city even though we’re in Brooklyn. There are a lot of like-minded people who are looking for a slower pace or are starting a family in the neighborhood,” the couple shares. 

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The foyer ties all rooms in Matt and Casey’s apartment together, and therefore feels like the heart of the home. “We chose the blue to make everything feel tethered to this central point,” Matt shares. Cordelia the cat can be found strolling from room to room. 

 

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Small plants and trinkets adorn a fold-down desk in the foyer.

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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The built-in bookcase and smartly sized office desk create a welcoming library nook, centrally located in the foyer. “We’re most thankful for the apartment’s layout. It’s not a lot of space but with how the rooms are divided up it feels a lot larger than it really is,” the couple shares. 

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Architectural details from the pre-war era, such as the picture and cove moldings in the living room, were things that sold the couple on this particular apartment. 

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The dining nook is Matt’s favorite spot in the apartment, and no wonder! “I hand painted each of those pineapples onto the wall with a stencil. Many people mistake it for a wallpaper!” he says.

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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The dining nook features classic cafe style chairs and a marble bistro table. Together with the pineapple stencil they create a unique take on timeless design. To add period charm, Matt and Casey changed out all the light switches for push-button style ones. “We love how it brings the apartment back closer to when it was built in 1940,” they explain. 

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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When the couple updated their kitchen, Matt came up with the idea to use the leftover slabs of the marble countertop as shelving. “We ended up having to modify their size a bit and guess on the weight for the marble as well. We also included additional brackets to ensure the weight would be evenly distributed so we had some ease of mind of it not falling!” he recalls.

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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An old portrait matches perfectly with the stenciled pineapples and adds charm to the dining nook.

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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Floor plan of Matt and Casey’s 900-square-foot apartment.

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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When Matt and Casey first moved in, they painted all walls white. They kept it that way for a year before first mulling over and finally deciding on their paint colors. “I love looking into this room from the dining nook when the sun sets because everything glows golden,” Matt reveals. 

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After careful thought, Matt and Casey chose “Tarrytown Green” by Benjamin Moore for the living room walls. They now love how much warmth the deep hue brings to their main space. 

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“There’s only one white wall left in the room that we are hoping to wallpaper,” Matt shares. “We only painted one wall to begin with and then slowly painted the additional two walls as time went on! I love the contrast between the green and the white wall.” 

In Brooklyn, A Couple Enhances Period Charm with a Personal Twist | Design*Kumbhalgarh
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Matt and Casey drove three hours to pick up the barrister bookcase for their dining area. “We love that [it] is modular so you can add or subtract to change its height. It hosts additional bar wares and my salt and pepper shaker collection,” Matt says.

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“The bar is Casey’s favorite piece of furniture. He loves to make cocktails and has a wide stash of alcohol, bitters and bar glasses.”

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The apartment features 10 mirrors in total, three of which can be found in the bedroom. “They bring in a lot of additional light and provide interesting angles depending on where you stand,” Matt explains. 

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The bedroom gets the most natural light of all the rooms in the apartment.

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Matt and Casey love dressers, especially this one in their bedroom corner. To find the right pieces for their home, they have learned to be patient and to always remember to measure. “Spend as much time as you need thinking on if you are making the right choice; try to plan how you see that space or item evolving with your home over time. If you can’t see it there in a few years, it may not be the right piece,” Matt advises. 

SOURCE LIST

Living Room
Side Table Lamp – Menu JWDA Lamp
Couch – West Elm
Rug – Eski Design
Side Table – School House Telephone Table
Standing Lamp – West Elm
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore “Tarrytown Green”
Curtains – Pottery Barn
Pillow Covers – The Ivory Gull

Kitchen
Clock – School House
Ceramic mugs/large bowls – lot.15 ceramics
Brackets – House of Antique Hardware
Cabinet Hardware – Rejuvenation
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore “Ice Mist”
Butterdish – Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

Bedroom
Dressers – Vintage
Mirror above bed – West Elm
Ceiling Light – West Elm
Side tables – School House Telephone Table
Bedside Lamps – Target
Curtains – CB2
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore “White Dove”

Dining Room
Wall Sconce – School House Abrams Double Plug-in Sconce
Mirror above bar – Crate and Barrel
Dining Table – Vintage
Dining Chairs – Vintage
Barrister Bookcase – Vintage
Bar – Vintage

Dining Nook
Cabinet – IKEA
Light – Harris House Antique Lighting
Bistro Chairs – Vintage
Bistro Table – Vintage
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore “Ice Mist”
Outlet Hardware – House of Antique Hardware

Foyer
Desk – OrWaDesigns
Desk Chair – West Elm
Floor Lamp – Target
Light – Century of Lighting
Rug – Eski Design
Floral Fossils – Ronni Nicole
Photo above desk – Mia Moffett

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Comments

  • I so love this place! The dining nook is perfect! Well, it does feel like the table could be more generous. I bet they could find a carpenter or furniture maker who could make a larger round wooden top that could accomodate the existing marble top as an smaller inset, that way they could host dinner parties for at least two more guests. A room that great needs to be shared!

  • What a beautiful home. I love how large and airy it looks, even with those rich, grounding wall colours. And all those little touches like the push-button wall switches and the salt-and-pepper shaker collection…so charming!

  • Thank you for sharing your home! I loved reading about your process for choosing colors and furniture. Do you mind sharing which blue paint you used in your foyer? It’s beautiful.

    • Thank you Karen! So glad you love the shade of blue! This colour is from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection, Hale Navy HC-154. We used matte for the finish!

  • What a lovely apartment. I especially love the airiness of the bedroom – and the bedroom rug! I don’t see it listed, but would love to know where it is from.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Eileen! Thank you so much! We love the airiness of the bedroom too!
      The rug is from West Elm but I’m not sure if they carry it anymore, it’s their Recycled Sari Binary Rug.
      We have the 8×10 in the photos!
      Cheers!

  • I was sad when there were no more pictures to scroll through. There wasn’t a single detail that was overlooked. Your home is absolutely beautiful!

  • I never thought I’d be a fan of a pineapple print, but those stencils are gorgeous! I love that this apartment doesn’t feel overly styled – it’s very cool, but still accessible, like a real person designed it.

  • A beautiful apartment! A beautiful mixture of antiques and colors. So truly inviting! I too am a huge fan of the pineapple stencils! Any chance of sharing source? It looks absolutely stunning in gold.

    • Hi Julie,

      So glad you like the pineapples as much as we do! The stencil is from Dizzy Duck Designs in the UK! They have a great assortment other than the pineapple as well!

      The paint I used is a creme from Royal Design Studios.

      Matt

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