Early in the pandemic, Tiffany and Matt placed a delivery order from BQE Wine & Liquors. They opened the door to a young man in his early twenties who had their order and a surprising message: “I grew up in your apartment.” He had lived in the unit from age two to eighteen, and after peeking his head in he told them little had changed. But according to the couple, it looks quite different now from when Matt first signed the lease five years ago.
Located in a 1928 building just south of Greenpoint Avenue, the railroad-style apartment has five rooms including a small bathroom. Most of the rooms are separated by archways as opposed to hinged doors, allowing light from the windows at the back of the apartment to travel all the way through the long apartment to the windows facing the street at the other end.
The door from the retro lime-green hallway of the building opens into Tiffany and Matt’s kitchen. The space is expertly organized, with much of the couple’s cookware hanging on an exposed “peg wall,” similar to a tool organizer you might find in a garage. On the wall hangs several cast-iron pans, a colander, and gilded measuring cups and utensils, as well as a disco ball the couple hung for a party that happened years before and decided to keep. A jungle of plants and long green vines line the wall near two tall windows facing to out to the building’s backyard, and between the windows hangs a white stained glass lamp from local showroom Friend of All.
About a year ago, Tiffany decided the floors and counter tops were in dire need of an upgrade. She used black and white peel and stick tiles on the laminate floor and covered the counters in marble contact paper. During this “kitchen glow-up,” as Tiffany called it, she also painted all the cabinets white and replaced the handles with sleek gold hardware.
Walking from the kitchen through the apartment’s first archway, you enter a multi-purpose room dubbed “Mason’s Room” by the couple. Before Tiffany moved into the apartment four years ago — about a year after she had moved to New York City from Georgia and met Matt — Matt had lived in the apartment with his brother, Mason. The couple repurposed Mason’s former bedroom to serve several functions. It’s Matt’s home office where he works remotely as an HR analyst at a bank, an open-layout closet, and a cat hangout for the couple’s two spectacular Maine Coons, Goliath and Gulliver (Golly and Gully for short).
The floor in Mason’s Room is covered with four rugs: a sheepskin rug, a furry white rug, and two Persian-style rugs, including an authentic red Persian rug Matt found for just five dollars at Value Village in Seattle where he’s from. Despite the unusual mix of styles, the rugs complement one another well and bring warmth to the space, made even cozier by string lights lining the bookshelves over Matt’s workspace. Knick-knacks, local décor, and bright, eclectic paintings from friends and other artists line the other walls.
Intending to maintain a sense of calm, the couple has deliberately left their bedroom spare. The walls are mostly empty other than a few mirrors and a reprint of the 1970 Herman Miller poster, Sweet Corn Picnic. The only pieces of furniture in the room are a small glass bedside table, a minimalist wooden dresser, and a bed. Notably, the mattress sits atop a golden-arched bed frame, which is the very same one that can be found at the Box House Hotel in Greenpoint where the couple got married. They’d noticed the unique bed frame on their wedding night, and later Tiffany happened upon someone selling the exact same model on Craigslist.
The Living Room
Evoking an old-timey tea parlor, the living room is decorated with an eclectic mix of brightly colored furniture and décor. A pale yellow loveseat sits perpendicular to a deep blue velvet couch, with the primary color palette completed by a large red 1908 Turkish rug in the center of the room. Fourteen rectangular, square, and round gold mirrors hang above the couch, and a large fiddle leaf fig and a towering bird of paradise sit next to the arms on either end.
Much of the apartment furnishings come secondhand from avenues like Craigslist, Stooping, and local shops such as Dobbin Street Co-Op. One exception is the living room’s dark wooden coffee table, which Matt built himself. He divided one slab of wood into two and created sister tables, giving one a home in the living room and using the other as his work-from-home desk in “Mason’s Room.” For Tiffany, the living room doubles as her at-home workspace, where she works as an educator at an NYC design museum.
While Tiffany and Matt haven’t lived in their apartment for quite as long as the man who grew up there, the couple — who recently signed their lease for another two years — has certainly created a charming home in Greenpoint.
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