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A Industrial Brooklyn Rental

A creative DIY couple has turned an industrial Brooklyn apartment into a cozy and characterful home.

Jewelry designer Jessica Barensfeld, photographer Simon Howell, and their son Lakota, 21 months, live in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC.

Their hip Brooklyn neighborhood Williamsburg offers a lively art and music scene, cafes and second-hand stores along with industrial buildings, humble homes, and luxe waterfront high-rises. Just over the bridge from Manhattan, this appealing mishmash has attracted creatives like Jessica Barensfeld and Simon Howell.

Jessica and Simon live in a characterful building that Jessica describes as “a quilt of style, pieces and periods.” She grew up in Manhattan but moved into the 13 sq m flat share in 2006. Then she met Simon, from Yorkshire, UK, who took up residence when friends moved out.

A huge variety of plants brings nature into the urban dwelling, with any surface becoming a plant stand – including tables, stools, and windowsills. Jessica is the plant lady, taking care of the greenery inside while Simon looks after the rooftop garden.

The pair turned their rented apartment into a cozy, characterful home. The landlord allowed Simon to add new walls and install more windows for light. He also made most of the timber furniture.

A huge variety of indoor plants were added to enhance the fresh feel and define areas in the open-plan living space. Jessica describes their style as a “hodgepodge,” but the jumble works.

The bedroom is small, but the white palette, lack of clutter and simple roll-up blinds keep the look simple. A black work lamp is angled upward for softer lighting above the bed.

The layout is quirky, too. The central living area has a loft at either end – one is the couple’s bedroom, and the other is toddler son Lakota’s room – with each accessed by its set of stairs.

Beneath the master bedroom, at one end of the open-plan living room is the workspace/office, while under Lakota’s room is a guest bedroom and the kitchenette.

Two velvet sofas help to zone the large room, creating a distinct lounge area. Grouping art (much of it by friends) on the living room walls just above the seating creates a cozy nook.

The workspace/office is important as both Jessica and Simon work from home. While Jessica is a jewelry designer, selling pieces through stores, such as Anthropologie, and Simon is a photographer, they also run a beanie business together, Lynn and Lawrence (their middle names). The couple also occasionally work as models, and a few years ago were shot by legendary photographer Annie Lebowitz for French clothing brand Moncler.


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