When we lived in Manhattan on the Lower East Side, long afternoon walks remedied our annual, wintertime claustrophobia. We would stroll through classic New York neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and imagine living in those cozy, antiquated homes. A soft glow emanated from the old factory-style grid windows, lighting the sidewalk where we stood. Months later, that picture still lingered in our minds.
Before moving, we knew this part of Brooklyn was a far cry from old New York. Finding any apartment at all was difficult enough. But at this point, we wanted it all: the perfect apartment with enough space, a great view, close to the train and all for the right rent. We scoured the city and only found places with only some of those things. One combination that seemed especially impossible to find? The comfort of a new, high-rise building and the old factory-looking apartment. To solve this, we chose a new building, grounding a foundation–from there, we would build it up and make call it home, adding whatever we could to achieve that looking vintage apartment.
The challenge: how do we redo the windows without damaging the glass or the existing framework? Like any normal contract, our landlord forbade us from any major construction. So with a bit of glue, meters of oak moldings and some velcro, we pieced together a window grid.
At first, it took about an hour and a half to measure, saw, glue, paint and attach each piece. We discovered the windows were not perfectly symmetrical, our measurements not perfectly accurate, and the actual framework not pitch black. One-by-one, we crafted each grid piece and painted them a black-green hue that Rasmus mixed with art school savvy. Finally, two years of painting horses and still-life fruit paid off.
Weeks passed and sunshine finally filtered through the windows daily, casting a welcome shadow on the countertops and in the bedroom. In our favor, the grid remained attached and added a bit of privacy from the passersby below. What started as a potential travesty ended up being as good as the real thing. We were no longer on the outside looking in.
Words by: Janelle Flores
Apartment hunting in New York is arguably one of the most daunting, frustrating, unjust chores in the world. Wallets are left abused by countless, sleazy brokers and unnecessary loads of paper pushing. But with a little bit of luck and creative foresight (with some help from a Swedish broker, no less), this white, too sterile, echo-y apartment was just right.
Photos: Rasmus Keger, Words by: Janelle Flores
Like most newly-domesticated ladies and gents, we circled the space with dizzying delight. Just like kids, we hopped from room to room, pen and paper in hand, arms flailing about. Where will the bookshelves go? The clock? Rasmus’s music desk? Janelle’s reading nook?
Still modestly sized by the world’s standards, the empty walls felt gigantic compared to the box that housed us just before moving. At last. We’re not playing “house” anymore.
Lamp from Schoolhouse Electric Co.