It has taken art professional Jan Endlich Jr. and his girlfriend Vanessa Carreras, a store developer for Ralph Lauren (locations throughout the city; visit ralphlauren.com), nearly 12 years to fully decorate their 440-square-foot space. Endlich, who works for a private collector in Stamford, Connecticut, and Swiss transplant Carreras moved into their cozy rental in 2000, but lacked the disposable cash to focus on interior design. “We had a cardboard box with a sheet draped over it for a table,” admits Endlich. After years of accumulating art and various objects from cross-country road trips, the couple’s pad has become a true amalgam of their creative sensibilities and a nod to their native roots. “We like to think of the apartment as one-part cabinet of curiosities and one-part scrapbook,” says Endlich.
The couple created a dining nook in their kitchen by grouping fiberglass Eames (eamesoffice.com) chairs purchased from Texas boutique Metro Retro (metroretrofurniture.com) around an Eames table they found on the street in Chelsea. Carreras handcrafted the ceramic fruit bowl and white candlesticks, filling the latter with tapers from Golden Calf (319 Wythe Ave between South 2nd and 3rd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-8800, goldencalfbrooklyn.com). To further brighten up the space, the duo hung a pendant lamp from Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-431-4770, pearlriver.com).
A cow-shaped lawn ornament that was a lucky street find and asymmetrically arranged magnetic spice jars from now-closed store Mxyplyzyk (mxyplyzyk.com) adorn the stove, while a vintage Harry Bertoia chair gifted to Carreras holds a Terrence T. Miele photograph—one of the first pieces of art the couple bought together. Miele was selling his work on the street in Williamsburg and inscribed the image to them.
A display of nature treasures from a visit to a friend’s house in Pleasantville, New York, serves as a shrine to the outdoors in the couple’s kitchen. The collection is accented by a mirror that another friend brought back from Ecuador, glove molds found on the street in Williamsburg and ceramics that Carreras made in her pottery class at Choplet (238 Grand St between Driggs Ave and Roebling St; 917-547-8316, choplet.com). Glidden (glidden.com) paint in goldenrod adds a cheerful splash of color to the walls.
Carreras, who likes to brew herbal tea, grows rosemary, parsley and verbena from the McCarren Park Greenmarket (Havemeyer St between Broadway and Division St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 212-788-7476, grownyc.org) in terra-cotta pots purchased at Crest Hardware (558 Metropolitan Ave between Lorimer St and Union Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-9521, crestgarden.tumblr.com).
An old mantle unearthed in a friend’s barn on the North Fork of Long Island creates the illusion of a fireplace, while framing built-in shelves that stow the couple’s book collection. “It gave us more surface area to put stuff [on],” notes Endlich, who admits their apartment is at capacity with the collectibles they’ve amassed. Midcentury Danish candlesticks from Dansk (dansk.com), a folk-art whale sculpture from a trip to Maine, a bear carving from Switzerland and a landscape painting purchased on eBay (ebay.com) adorn the makeshift mantle. A kilim pillow that Carreras purchased in Ankara, Turkey, tops one of two reupholstered chairs that were discovered on the street. The duo layered a George Nelson tray table from Vitra (vitra.com) over a wood-grain-patterned bookshelf purchased at Huga (540 President St between Third and Fourth Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-522-5900, huntergatherer.net) to create a multifunctional side table. It’s topped with frames from Sam Flax (900 Third Ave between 54th and 55th Sts, 212-813-6666 • 3 W 20th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-620-3000 • samflaxny.com), containing drawings of maps the couple made of hikes through Olympic National Forest and McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania.
“I play guitar terribly,” says Endlich, motioning toward the small acoustic instrument from Guitar Center (25 W 14th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-463-7500 • 139 Flatbush Ave at Atlantic Ave, Downtown Brooklyn; 718-230-5025 • guitarcenter.com). It rests on a once-tattered chair the couple purchased from a woman on the street; Carreras reupholstered it with cotton canvas from Joe’s Fabrics (102 Orchard St at Broome St; 212-674-7089, joesfabrics.com). An old 48-star flag from 10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas (285 North 6th St at Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-9482) provides a touch of Americana.
Endlich admits he’s “object-obsessed.” To wit, a glass display case from D.C. shop GoodWood (goodwooddc.com) houses an assortment of religious reliquaries found on eBay, Endlich’s misshapen pulled tooth and an authentic Civil War bullet picked up on an elementary-school field trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It sits on a reproduction Marcel Breuer (marcelbreuer.org) laminate coffee table that the duo bought at a now-closed Soho store.
“We weren’t sure if anything would be able to get through the narrow door,” recalls Carreras of situating their sleek leather couch, a street find outside a Chelsea warehouse. It’s adorned with an oversize skull pillow from Fuego 718 (249 Grand St between Driggs Ave and Roebling St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-2913, fuego718.com), and an authentic Swiss Army blanket and matching pillows that are reminiscent of home for Carreras. She discovered the 1920s antique rug on a trip to Olympia, Washington.
Endlich spotted this large wooden birdhouse at Brooklyn Junk (197 North 9th St between Driggs and Bedford Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn • 567 Driggs Ave between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn • junk11211.com), and complemented it with willow branches gifted to him by a friend. The curtains were cast-offs from one of Carreras’s former interior-architecture jobs.
Endlich scored these striking handmade Balinese frames when he worked at Lehmann Maupin Gallery (540 W 26th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 212-255-2923 • 201 Chrystie St between at Stanton St, 212-254-0054 • lehmannmaupin.com). They were slightly off in dimension to sell, so he brought them home and placed them around two smaller framed Brad Kahlhamer (bradkahlhamer.net) prints he picked up at the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University (2960 Broadway at 116th St; 212-854-7641, arts.columbia.edu). The macabre sketches are complemented by a deer skull, purchased from a woman at a Virginia flea market whose husband was a hunter.
A Maryland native, Endlich showcases his state pride by displaying a wooden Baltimore oriole statue hand-carved by Beijing artist Yao Qiang Li (hummingbirdstudiousa.com), who sells them on eBay. It sits atop a ceramic candlestick that Carreras made, and is encased in a glass dome from Moon River Chattel (62 Grand St between Kent St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-1121, moonriverchattel.com). The globe rests beside a premade terrarium from gardening store Sprout (44 Grand St between Kent St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-4440, sprouthome.com).
Endlich scours eBay for interesting objects, such as these wooden pond boats. “We’ve never tried them on water,” says Carreras, who displays them beside wood carvings purchased on trips to Maine and Seattle. Shelving that the couple constructed using brackets from Home Depot (locations throughout the city; visit homedepot.com) and plywood from Lumber City & Building Supply (84 North 3rd St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-0001, lumbercityandbuildingsupply.com) also supports a phrenology bust from Pop (310 Grand St between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-6001, shoppop.com), souvenir Hopi Kachina dolls from a visit to the pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona, and tin trolley replicas of the old green trams that still run in Basel, Switzerland, where Endlich discovered them while on a business trip.
Endlich found this 1913 ship painting by New England artist C.S. Smith in an antique shop in Beaufort, North Carolina. “At the time we had just started taking sailing lessons,” he reminisces. Carreras then bought an art light from a used-hardware sale to spotlight the piece, and hung a Black Forest hunting trophy discovered on eBay above it.
Carreras brought back this traditional cuckoo clock for Endlich after a visit to Switzerland. “It’s a nice companion to hear it tick,” he says.
“I like text, lettering and fonts,” says Endlich of this 1914 subway sign that he scored on eBay.
The pair transformed their second bedroom into an office and dining area, where they exhibit dozens of pieces of artwork they have collected on trips together or received as gifts. “We’ve surrounded ourselves with objects that remind us of friends, vacations, our childhood homes and of Brooklyn,” says Endlich. He plucked the discarded Eames fiberglass chair seats from the streets of Brooklyn and Soho, and refurbished them with legs he bought on eBay. They surround a vintage Eero Saarinen (eerosaarinen.net) chair purchased in Cold Spring, New York, complemented by South African springbok hides from eBay.
“You know you’re obsessed when you’re beyond your limits with wall space,” jokes Endlich, whose dining room walls are covered in artwork he has been gifted by artist friends or collected from galleries. Several of the works are from ACRIA (acria.org), an AIDS initiative that sells art online and uses the proceeds to raise funds for research.
“My mom lives in the suburbs, so we do the nature thing when we visit her,” says Endlich. He and Carreras found these bird’s nests while on a walk in Maryland and showcase them in a glass display box from Crate & Barrel (650 Madison Ave at 59th and St, 212-308-0011 • 611 Broadway at W Houston St, 212-780-0004 • crateandbarrel.com).
The couple’s cozy bedroom only has enough room for a full-size bed but by adding personal touches, such as family photos and a Seldon Yuan (seldonyuan.com) print featuring a map of the five boroughs, Endlich and Carreras have made it feel more intimate.
A raccoon doll from Hazel Village (hazelvillage.com) and a stuffed cat from Area Kids (218 Bedford Ave between North 4th and 5th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-8647, areakids.com) provide a youthful element to the couple’s Sleepy’s (locations throughout the city; visit sleepys.com) bed, which is covered in a Swiss Army blanket purchased in Switzerland.
Carreras accents each room with traditional artwork from Switzerland. “My grandma and mom started giving me one for Christmas every year,” she says, referring to this series of hand-cut paper scenes hanging in the couple’s bedroom. They’re made by Monique Boillar, a local artist from Carreras’s grandmother’s Swiss alpine village, Chateau d’Oex.
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The Evolution Store 120 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts (212-343-1114, theevolutionstore.com)
“It’s a cabinet of curiosities and a natural-history museum all wrapped into one,” says Endlich of this collectibles shop, which stocks an array of oddities, such as animal skulls, fossils, preserved butterflies and Chinese dream stones.
Hollander & Lexer 369 Atlantic Ave between Bond and Hoyt Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-797-9733) • 101 Metropolitan Ave at Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-8887) • 103 Metropolitan Ave at Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-797-9117) • hollanderandlexer.com
Endlich and Carreras like the old-timey feel of this shop, and often browse for unique vintage finds and clothing. “We’re probably drawn to their turn-of-the-century Brooklyn aesthetic, since we live in an old tenement building,” says Endlich.
Kiosk 95 Spring St between Broadway and Mercer St (212-226-8601, kioskkiosk.com)
“It’s curated as well as any museum,” enthuses Endlich, who loves this shop’s eclectic assortment of gifts, art and tchotchkes sourced from around the world. “It provides little thoughtful descriptions for each object, and the pieces are fun and affordable.”