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When Jens moved to New York City in 1996 with his now ex-wife, his mother-in-law invited them to live with her in her spacious Greenpoint apartment, which encompassed the third floor of a former potato-chip manufacturing factory.
About a year and a half after moving in, Jens and his wife decided they needed their own place. But after a tough time finding another apartment that worked for them, Jens’ wife decided it was her mom who should leave. Luckily for them, the mother had, in truth, always hated the city and agreed to move out.
So how did Jens end up with the apartment? Years later, when he and his wife were going through a divorce: “She got all the money and I got the apartment,” Jens told me matter-of-factly.
I’d call it a win for Jens — the large apartment, located in northeastern Greenpoint amid some of the neighborhood’s many studios and stages, is a space most New Yorkers could only dream of. Jens now lives there with his partner Maria and their dogs, Shani and Millie.
The couple has cultivated the ultimate urban farmhouse feel, immediately evident when you walk in.
“Him being from Wisconsin and me from Georgia, there’s a certain aesthetic we both really like — it’s like natural elements, kind of raw, unfinished, and at the same time sparse and minimalist,” Maria said.
Much of the furniture and decor is salvaged or reclaimed, including the kitchen cabinets, refurbished from the 1920s or ’30s. Other pieces come from artist friends or are homemade.
Jens made the funky bulb lamp hanging over the kitchen island, and Jens and Maria hand-assembled the Halo Design IQ Light hanging above the long teak dining table. The lamp, made of plastic panels you can take apart and put together in different ways, is just one of many IQ Lights in the apartment.
The couple jokingly described the process as, “…like legos, but worse.”
Jens and Maria met a decade ago through their work in the entertainment industry as actors and producers. During the pandemic, they reconnected as friends and colleagues — but something was different this time. Around mid-summer 2021, Jens and Maria agreed to move in together in Jens’ apartment.
Walking through the kitchen/dining room toward the back of the apartment is a room serving as Maria’s home office and Jens’ leather-working studio, and moonlighting as a guest bedroom.
Toward the front of the building is Jens and Maria’s white-brick-walled bedroom, which doubles as a living room area the couple calls their “boho lounge.” The cozy lounge has a vintage wooden couch facing a small TV on a large bookshelf, two knitted hammock chairs, and an elevated platform (which covers up a conveyor belt from the manufacturing days) where Shani and Millie like to laze around.
In the center of the spacious room is a king-size mattress sitting on a low platform Floyd bedframe. “It’s easy to move and it’s indestructible — that’s my thing,” Jens said. “I love things I only have to buy once.”
On either side of the bed are large, sturdy-looking trunks from The Oshkosh Trunk Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where Jens is from. By positioning the trunks upright and open, the couple has cleverly converted them into dressers for daily use.
When I asked Jens and Maria which room was their favorite, they had a tough time choosing. Instead, they went through each room and expressed a few thoughtful words about the particular joy it gives them. Ultimately, they said they would pick one if they had to — but instead I’ll ask the reader: which would you choose?
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