Most coffee-table books are aspirational, which is reasonable—people want to see the palazzos, not the McDonalds, of Venice. But that means the vast majority of these books have a “just kill me” element: Someone out there has the time to arrange a wunderkammer with “esoteric ephemera from a life well lived” (and then dust it regularly), but that someone is probably not you or anyone you know.
Finally though, Rizzoli has come out with a coffee-table book with a more attainable standard of living.
Brooklyn Interiors, written by Kathleen Hackett and filled with photographs by Matthew Williams, is a tour through apartments and houses in virtually every neighborhood of New York’s most design-forward borough. Yes, they have the predictable sun-drenched, funky-yet-elegant, modern-yet-classic aesthetics that make you want to weep—this is still a coffee-table book from Rizzoli, after all—but unlike an “effortlessly elegant,” 400-year-old riad in Morocco or a private-island retreat off the coast of a country you’ve never heard of, these are places in which you, dear reader, can actually live.
Don’t believe us? We’ve taken a few of the apartments featured in Brooklyn Interiors and found comparable real estate listings that (in theory) you could move into tomorrow. (The wunderkammer, you’ll have to figure out on your own.)
Row House, Boerum Hill
This single-family home, located on what we’re told is a “handsome tree-lined street,” is actually owned by the book’s author, who lives there with her husband and two children. A similar single-family townhouse is currently listed in the same neighborhood for $4.3 million. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms spread across four floors, and potential owners will enjoy the marble fireplaces, a giant backyard, and, presumably, like-minded neighbors: The listing also describes its location as being on a “charming, tree-lined street.”
Prewar Apartment, Brooklyn Heights
The book describes this “classic six” (real estate jargon for “apartment with six rooms”) in a prewar apartment building in Brooklyn Heights as “atmospheric, serene, and meticulous.” The same could be said of a nearby $5.495 million, 2,800-square-foot apartment, also located in a prewar building in Brooklyn Heights. The listing has wood-burning fireplaces, a custom Balthaup kitchen, and four bedrooms along with another room that the listing calls a “library/den,” which is inevitably a polite way of saying “guest bedroom.”
When the owner of this sprawling Dumbo loft moved to the neighborhood, she was quoted as saying that “there was nothing ... but deserted warehouses.” (Her building was a former toilet-seat factory, the book tells us.) Today, the only deserted things in Dumbo are half-finished construction sites and apartments like this $4.449 million loft. The listing in question has three bedrooms and two and a half baths spread across 2,992 square feet of living space, which features wall-to-wall windows and 13.6-foot high ceilings. It doesn’t quite have the same gritty patina as the Dumbo of yore, but on the plus side, the apartment comes with a soaking tub.
The three-story brownstone detailed in the book has a lovely combination of original detail and a pared-down aesthetic. Its owners, Italian transplants, reportedly spurn decorations that are “expensive—or serious,” but that hasn’t stopped them from constructing a kitchen worthy of a coffee-table book. A slightly more polished townhouse in Bed-Stuy—this one has been broken up into two 2-story units—is currently on sale for $2.795 million. Prospective owners can easily recreate the book’s aesthetic, though: Add two preschool-age children, and the floors will look lovingly scuffed in no time.
Railroad Apartment, Bushwick
For reasons that remain unclear, the owner of this Bushwick railroad apartment confesses, in print, to stealing police barricades “in the deepest part of Brooklyn” to use as construction material for his apartment. (“I get a lot of parking tickets,” he says, as if this implies causality.) Whoever buys this $950,000 Bushwick duplex will presumably have no need for construction material, bought or stolen; the 1,370-square-foot apartment, which includes a large private garden, was recently renovated.
One Bedroom, Cobble Hill
If this 700-square-foot apartment looks a little too good to be true, it’s probably because it’s the home of the co-founders of Workstead, a Brooklyn design studio that’s done the public spaces in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn and the Arcade Bakery in TriBeCa. Another Cobble Hill apartment (this one is located on a brownstone’s upper floor) is roughly the same size and on sale for $1.115 million. The apartment has wide plank floors, a built-in cocktail bar, and, a private terrace patio up top. Like the book’s apartment, it also has a design pedigree: Its recent renovation was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine.