Stuart Post and his husband, Chris Kelley, prove that it doesn’t take an unlimited budget to create a comfortable, inviting space that reflects its occupants’ personal tastes. Post, who is head of programs for a nonprofit, and Kelley, a product manager at a financial-software company, transformed their 1,500-square-foot pad into a midcentury-style abode adorned with flea-market finds and art made by creative friends. “We feel incredibly lucky to live here,” says Post, who bought the 28th-floor co-op with Kelley two years ago. “I find this place so visually engaging.” The couple, who got married in May, have found a way to incorporate both of their unique design aesthetics into the space. “Everything here is actively enjoyed,” adds Kelley. “It really feels like it’s our joint taste—a merging of our sensibilities.”
A collection of plastic bowls painted by the couple’s artist friend Ken Rabb hangs in symmetrical rows behind a rust-colored couch from Design Within Reach (locations throughout the city; visit dwr.com). The muted gray sofa also hails from the modern furniture chain and is flanked by a large coffee table from Jarontiques (117 Atlantic Ave between Henry and Hicks Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 347-463-9894, jarontiques.com).
“This is really my pride and joy,” declares Post of the portrait gallery dominating the living-room wall. It features 37 paintings depicting both unknowns and famous faces, including gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. “The longer I was collecting, the cheaper I got,” he admits. Post accumulated them from flea markets such as the Antiques Garage (112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com) and auction houses like Christie’s (20 Rockefeller Plaza between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-636-2000, christies.com) over the past 13 years, paying between $5 and $500 for each piece.
“It skips and pops,” says Post of his massive retro record player, purchased from a neighbor in the building. “Things are dinged up—that’s fine. It gives it a patina.” Post and Kelley use it to play records picked up at flea markets around New York.
Busts belonging to Abraham Lincoln and a slew of unidentifiable men and women can be found scattered throughout the couple’s living room. “I look at them as having wonderful growth potential because they’re not very big—there’s always room for another bust,” jokes Post, who bought most of them at local flea markets and is always on the lookout for new additions to the collection.
Adding to the apartment’s Mad Men aesthetic, a yellow glass ashtray sits beside an old—but still functional—telephone that Post picked up at the Brooklyn Flea. “I’m very partial to ugly ’60s glass,” says Post, referring to the assorted glassware that sits atop every table in the living room. A chestnut-colored glass lamp from Room & Board (105 Wooster St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-334-4343, roomandboard.com) and bright orange glass coasters from GlassRoots (glassroots.org) in Newark complete the tabletop menagerie.
“These bunnies were reunited when we moved in together,” says Post of the two cast-iron rabbits, acquired at the West 25th Street Market (W 25th St between Broadway and Sixth Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com), that now sit in different corners of the couple’s living room. Post and Kelley each had a statue in his respective apartment before they shared a space.
Post and Kelley used vivid red Benjamin Moore paint from Janovic (locations throughout the city; visit janovic.com) to add a pop of color to their cozy den, where they spend time reading, relaxing and watching TV. Paint-by-number artwork found at the Antiques Garage and various yard sales bedecks one of the walls, creating a nostalgic homage to childhood. A 1960s-style credenza from West Elm (1870 Broadway between 61st and 62nd Sts, 212-247-8077 • 112 W 18th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-929-4464 • 75 Front St at Main St, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-875-7757 • westelm.com) and matching mod chairs from eBay, paired with patchwork footstools from Brooklyn’s Largest Furniture Warehouse (now closed), complete the vintage look.
A Native American statue handed down from Kelley’s grandfather and an old-fashioned tricycle discovered at the West 25th Street Market adorn a corner of the couple’s third-bedroom-turned-den. “I like the beauty that rusty things can have,” muses Post.
“Ken [Rabb] had many wonderful things in his apartment, and we were the primary recipients of decluttering,” says Post. Among the items he and Kelley acquired from their friend, who recently moved to a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s, is this old-fashioned toy train collection.
“Chris is very handy,” boasts Post of his partner, who reupholstered two dining-room chairs from RePOP (143 Roebling St between Hope St and Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn • 718-260-8032, repopny.com) to identically match the original four seats he found on eBay (ebay.com). Kelley then joined together two CB2 (451 Broadway between Canal and Grand Sts, 212-219-1454 • 979 Third Ave at 58th St, 212-355-7974 • cb2.com) light fixtures to create a modern chandelier. A pair of petite gold-framed Alison Rector paintings hang on the wall adjacent to the kitchen.
Large windows bathe the living and dining rooms in natural light, and offer unobstructed views of the East River and lower Manhattan. “The sky can be very dramatic,” says Post. “It’s not infrequent for me to yell to Chris to get out the camera.”
Kitchen shelves reveal an eclectic mix of teacups, pottery and china amassed from Post’s grandmother and trips to London. “I really love the idea of having someone come over in the afternoon for tea because I can’t cook,” confesses Post. “It’s a little old ladyish, but guilty as charged.”
“I love every swatch on it: the mix of big squares, little squares, diagonals,” enthuses Kelley of the quilt adorning his bed, which was made by a friend recovering from brain surgery. A modern-style portrait of Post painted on canvas by friend Alison Rector (arector.com) hangs above the tufted headboard from Crate & Barrel (650 Madison Ave between 59th and 60th Sts, 212-308-0011 • 611 Broadway at W Houston St, 212-780-0004 • crateandbarrel.com). The two, because each craves his own space, sleep in separate rooms.
As big supporters of LAND Studio & Gallery (67 Front St between Main and York Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 917-670-9322, leaguecenter.org/land.html), an art program for people with autism, Post and Kelley purchased and framed greeting cards made by participants and featuring famous figures such as Michael Jackson and President Obama. “If you put enough of something together, it makes for a nice installation,” says Post.
“It reminds me of one I had as a boy,” reminisces Post about the fraying Woolrich Hudson’s Bay blanket he keeps on the end of his bed. A blue teddy bear embroidered with Kelley’s first initial and a Ken Rabb sculpture made from rusty tacks found on Cliff Island, Maine, sits atop his wood headboard, which he scored on Craigslist (craigslist.org). The leather lounge chair, picked up at Brooklyn’s Largest Furniture Warehouse, provides a comfortable spot for late-night reading.
Post found this metal postcard stand on the street and filled it with petite Ken Rabb paintings, which are now on display in his bedroom.
Post’s four extracted wisdom teeth are lined up in a row in front of family photos and a rusty nail from the street—an ode to found art.
Love the look? Get it here!
Brooklyn Flea 1 Hansen Pl at Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; Sat 10am–5pm • 176 Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; Sat 10am–5pm • East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Sun 10am–5pm • brooklynflea.com
The couple routinely scours this weekends-only bazaar for furniture, glassware, LPs and artwork.
Jubilee Gallery 117 Henry St at Clark St, Brooklyn Heights (718-596-1499, jubileegallery.net)
Post loves the museum-quality selection at this custom framing shop. “It’s where I get all of my framing done,” he says.
RePop 43 Roebling St between Hope St and Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-260-8032)
Post and Kelley have picked up chairs, a table and a decorative bust from this affordable thrift shop. “The prices are great and they carry a really interesting selection of mid-century items,” says Post.
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