When husband and wife Zeke and Marissa Freeman made the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn in 2007, they opted for a spacious two-bedroom. After their four-year-old twins were born, however, they dreamt of a bigger abode for their growing family and Bee Raw (beeraw.com), their home-based business selling honey, tea and coffee. As a solution, the pair struck a deal with their next-door neighbors to purchase the adjacent apartment two years ago. With help from contractor Christine Smith Associates (christinesmithassoc.com), the duo knocked down the wall between the two units, opening up the now-1,300-square-foot space and gaining a master bedroom. When it came to decorating their pad, the Freemans simply trusted their instincts: “Put away the design magazines,” advises Zeke. “They look so made-up. Focus on the stuff you like instead.”
Two David Goines (goines.net) prints greet guests as they enter the apartment. “They [make it] feel like an entryway,” says Zeke, who thought the designs, featuring a hat hanging on a coatrack and a man in an overcoat, seemed appropriate for the area. A foldable table with chairs from Horseman Antiques (351 Atlantic Ave at Hoyt St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-596-1048, horsemanantiques.net)—the couple’s first dining setup when they moved in—now serves as the foyer credenza, and is brought out for holiday meals when seating is needed for extra guests.
The couple incorporates global accents, such as Indian cloth throws and a patchwork ottoman scored on flash-sale site Gilt (gilt.com), to offset their mod armchairs from Los Angeles funiture store French 50s60s (french50s60s.com) and sofa by Modernica (modernica.net). A Persian rug from ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway at 19th St; 212-473-3000, abchome.com) contrasts with the simple antique wooden coffee table purchased from a now-defunct vintage shop. “I love idcentury [modern design], but I would never decorate the whole apartment with it,” says Zeke. “You don’t want it to look like you’re walking onto a Mad Men set,” adds Marissa.
An assortment of some of the couple’s favorite things, including vintage cookbooks collected through the years, rests atop a dresser Zeke designed himself using various pieces from Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-246-4532, ikea.com). “I’ve kept these orchids alive and blooming for five years,” boasts Zeke of his blossoming plant, which was a gift from a friend. The David Goines print was also a gift from a family friend, who has collected Goines’s artwork for years.
This stunning 1930s period mirror was a hand-me-down from Marissa’s grandparents, and serves as the centerpiece of the living room. Zeke even designed the placement of the wall-mounted Ikea credenza to spotlight it. “That mirror holds all of my childhood memories,” reminisces Marissa. “Every holiday, every wedding, every prom picture—everything.” A vintage ottoman purchased in Los Angeles is stowed beneath the floating cupboard and brought out for additional guest seating.
A display of bar accessories from around the world includes a gentlemen’s-club striker from London’s Portobello Market (portobellomarket.org), a silver cocktail shaker from Vietnam and ashtrays that the Freeman’s kept from famous restaurants they’ve visited in France—including Louis XV in Monaco, where Zeke was once a chef. “At the time I went there, I didn’t know it, but my husband was working in the kitchen,” muses Marissa.
Fans of flea-market finds, the Freemans picked up this glass vase at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (rgcshows.com/rosebowl.aspx) in Los Angeles. Zeke saved the Iranian caviar tin from his stint working at Louis XV. “It would be worth $8,000 to $12,000 if it were full,” he claims. Marissa purchased the lamp from a home-goods shop on Rodeo Drive.
A wall of windows in the couple’s dining area provides a panoramic view of New York Harbor. “We knew we were going to build our color scheme off of the natural environment,” says Marissa, who divulges the shipyard served as inspiration when decorating. “It’s what informed what our furniture and carpet was going to be.” Industrial ABC Carpet & Home chairs surround a midcentury-modern wood dining table from Horseman Antiques for a mismatched retro look. Tired of bulky high chairs, the Freemans borrowed Lucite stools from Zeke’s mother’s apartment that don’t stand out or take up a lot of space, but are high enough so their toddlers can reach the table. Zeke discovered the vibrant painting at a farmers’ market in Woodstock, New York. “I had no idea where it was going to fit, but I fell in love with it,” he gushes. “If we love it, it’s going to work in our apartment,” adds Marissa.
Zeke, who trained as a chef in France, takes pride in his kitchen. “It’s an important contributing factor to his aesthetic and discerning taste,” says Marissa of his culinary prowess. After years of hunting for the perfect stools, he discovered these inexpensive, vintage-inspired standouts at Find Home Furnishings (43C 9th St between Smith St and Second Ave, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-369-2705, findhomefurnishings.com). He glued a large countertop from Ikea to the existing island to create more surface space for meal preparation and eating.
“It’s not just a beautiful piece, but [also] something to admire,” enthuses Zeke of this wooden tea box, a leftover from his job with Dean & Deluca. It now houses vitamins on the kitchen island. The ceramic fruit bowl was made by Zeke’s father in the 1970s.
“I seriously rolled up a string of Christmas lights [into a ball] and decided I liked it, so it stayed,” explains Zeke of the holiday-ornament-turned-makeshift-light he created to hang above the kitchen island.
As a former buyer for Dean & Deluca, Zeke admits to having an affinity for tea tins and has accumulated quite a few. He stacks part of his collection on top of the refrigerator for storage. It’s surrounded by ceramics gifted to him by family or handmade by his father, a pottery hobbyist.
“If you ever have the chance to buy the apartment next door, do it,” encourages Zeke, who gained this master bedroom when he did exactly that. “There’s nothing like having the ability to expand and grow into [a space] with your family.” Linens from the Greenhouse (387 Atlantic Ave between Bond and Hoyt Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-422-8631, thegreenhouselifestyle.com) and an Indian blanket Marissa found on Gilt top the couple’s bed from West Elm (1870 Broadway at 62nd St, 212-247-8077 • 112 W 18th St at Sixth Ave, 212-929-4464 • 75 Front St between Main and Washington Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-875-7757 • westelm.com). Marissa acquired the small gold Calvin Klein pillow from a Beyoncé photo shoot she worked on in her previous advertising career. A large hand-me-down mirror from a friend hangs above the bed.
A wooden credenza from Room & Board (105 Wooster St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-334-4343, roomandboard.com) provides extra storage for clothes and knickknacks, while supporting family photos showcased in frames from Pottery Barn (100–104 Seventh Ave between 16th and 17th Sts, 646-336-7160 • 117 E 59th St between Park and Lexington Aves, 917-369-0050 • 1965 Broadway between 66th and 67th Sts, 212-579-8477 • potterybarn.com). Zeke’s crafty father made the ceramic lamp and casserole dish.
Marissa added a feminine touch to the couple’s en suite bathroom by incorporating a collection of delicate vintage toiletry dishes and talc holders from flea markets in Paris and London. The pink Murano glass urn is from a trip to Venice, while the white vase was from her mother’s wedding in the 1950s.
The Freemans fraternal twins share an Ikea bunk bed topped with quilts handmade by Zeke’s mother. Their bookcase from the Container Store (629 Sixth Ave between 18th and 19th Sts • 725 Lexington Ave at 58th St • 212-366-4200, containerstore.com) is full of children’s tomes from BookCourt (163 Court St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-875-3677, bookcourt.com), stuffed animals hand-knitted by friends, and educational toys from Melissa & Doug (melissaanddoug.com). Marissa and Zeke placed stencils of bamboo stalks and dragonflies from 2 Modern (2modern.com) over Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoore.com) Aura Paint in Victorian Mauve to decorate the wall and give the room a playful feel.
Since it was too small to serve as a bedroom, this cozy space was transformed into an office from which the couple runs their company. They hung metal shelves from the Container Store to showcase their honey products, and store paperwork in eye-popping file boxes, also from the organization chain. The installation provides a place to attach the wall-mounted bike brackets, ordered from a pro cycling magazine, that support Zeke’s vintage Bianchi bicycle (bianchiusa.com) that he bought in France. It dangles above a large Ikea desk and comfortable Steelcase chairs (steelcase.com), which allow the pair to work side by side.
Family accents can be found throughout the apartment, including an antique photograph of Zeke’s great-great-grandfather’s family and his framed certificate of rank in the Freemasons. Marissa found the dual-pronged coatrack at a flea market in Italy.
Sample jars of Bee Raw varietal honey, sourced from family-owned apiaries across the country, are displayed on the office shelves. The finished products can be found at Anthropologie (locations throughout the city; visit anthropologie.com), Whole Foods Market (locations throughout the city; visit wholefoodsmarket.com), Dean & Deluca and Sur la Table (75 Spring St at Crosby St, 212-966-3375 • 306 W 57th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, 212-574-8334 • 1320 Third Ave between 75th and 76th Sts, 646-843-7984 • surlatable.com).
By wrapping coffee sacks they found at a flea market over sound-absorbent acoustic panels from ATS Acoustics (atsacoustics.com), the Freemans created one-of-a-kind, functional wall hangings. “It knocks down the noise a lot,” notes Zeke. The DIY decor is perched atop a Room & Board dresser beside succulents collected on trips to Utah, California and Italy, and an antique botanical print of a wild beehive that was a birthday gift from a friend. Marissa’s Specialized wheels (specialized.com) from Bicycle Habitat (244 Lafayette St between Prince and Spring Sts, 212-431-3315 • 476 Fifth Ave between 10th and 11th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-788-2543 • 228 Seventh Ave at 23rd St, 212-206-6949 • bicyclehabitat.com) are also hung overhead for unobtrusive storage.
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Z Gallerie colorblock candle tin, $20 each, at zgallerie.com
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Brooklyn Rehab water-tower salt-and-pepper-shaker set, $23, at By Brooklyn, 261 Smith St between DeGraw and Douglass Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-643-0606)
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Serena & Lily nail-head stripe hammered metal lamp, $345, at serenaandlily.com
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Le Palais des Thés China Pattern metal tea caddy, $8, at Le Palais des Thés, 194 Columbus Ave between 68th and 69th Sts (646-664-1902) • 156 Prince St between W Broadway and Thompson St (646-513-4369) • us.palaisdesthes.com
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Ikea Hemnes eight-drawer dresser, $299, at ikea.com
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Z Gallerie Tangier mirror, $50, at zgallerie.com
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Zara Home paisley wool throw, $159, at zarahome.com
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Traditional Indian pouf, two for $137, at overstock.com
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Zara Home glass-and-metal tumbler, $17; and glass-and-metal dispenser, $36; both at zarahome.com
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By Brooklyn261 Smith St between DeGraw and Douglass Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-643-0606, bybrooklyn.com) “We like to support local artisans,” says Marissa, who frequents this boutique—hawking items made exclusively in Kings County—to do just that. “It has a small selection of tightly curated home goods and gifts.”
KC Arts Custom Framing252 Court St at Kane St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-1271) “The framing guys know their stuff—and mine,” notes Marissa of the staff at this small but well-stocked neighborhood art shop. “They know that I like things a little bit out there, and they’re not afraid to take me there.”
Two Jakes320 Wythe St between Grand and South 1st Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-7780, twojakes.com) The Freemans scout this shop for midcentury-modern furniture. “It offers a great mix of vintage and industrial [items],” says Zeke. “The pieces we find there match the vibe we want to create in our apartment.”