Apartment tour: 1BR in Woodside, Queens

Jewelry designer Wren Britton's creepy-cool, curiosity-filled pad is stuffed to the brim with warm memories.

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  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Entering Wren Britton's cozy, 800-square-foot abode can be a little...

    Entering Wren Britton's cozy, 800-square-foot abode can be a little overwhelming at first---there's just so much stuff. Britton, who founded the gothic jewelry line Purevile (purevile.com), has rented the space for eight years, but has been amassing a collection of odds and ends for much longer. "There are some things in here that I've had since I was a teenager," he says. "My parents are huge collectors too." Though many of his knickknacks have a slightly macabre, Victorian feel, he also injects humor into his surroundings (Pee-wee Herman figurines and the occasional Hello Kitty toy can be found among his darker belongings).

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton keeps an antique cabinet that's crammed with treasures---including clay...

    Britton keeps an antique cabinet that's crammed with treasures---including clay dolls handmade by one of his friends and a plastic model of a torso that he found at the Evolution Store (120 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts; 212-343-1114, theevolutionstore.com)---in the entryway of his apartment. "I describe it as a coral reef, where you put down one solid thing and then everything grows around it," he laughs.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton kept this tarantula, named Arachne, as a pet for about 18 years. (He...

    Britton kept this tarantula, named Arachne, as a pet for about 18 years. (He also has a mounted scorpion---not a former pet---above the stove in his kitchen.) After the spider died, he dried her body out and placed her in a shadowbox, which hangs next to the front door. "We were able to find out it was a female," he notes. "With the larger spiders, it's easier to tell because there are markings on the bottom."

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    "I have loose themes in each room," says Britton. He keeps a lot of medically...

    "I have loose themes in each room," says Britton. He keeps a lot of medically related items in his bathroom: This display above his toilet features a plastic brain, two microscopes and a box for a Visible Woman anatomy model. "I don't have her anymore, but I still have the box---it's actually a little bit nicer," he concedes.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Statues of religious figures adorn one of the vintage dressers in Britton's...

    Statues of religious figures adorn one of the vintage dressers in Britton's bedroom. "My dad's a minister, but we're not Catholic, so there are not a lot of [icons] in the church he belongs to," he says. "But there's something very emotional about them. When you separate [the figures] from the religious aspect, they can be really beautiful." There are at least five depictions of the Infant of Prague, which Britton especially likes.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton uses this vintage armoire from a Long Island antique market to store...

    Britton uses this vintage armoire from a Long Island antique market to store accessories and clothes. "I only have one closet, so I wanted something else to keep jackets and my hats in," he says. He keeps antique hats---many of which he finds at Obscura---on top of it, including one from the 1800s and a Knights Templar topper from the turn of the 20th century.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton took inspiration from ReadyMade magazine for the hanging collage behind...

    Britton took inspiration from ReadyMade magazine for the hanging collage behind his bed, but put his own eerie spin on it. "I didn't want to do something typical," he explains. He hammered nails into the wall at approximately the same level and used twisted wire of different lengths to hang mementos.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton found most of the items used in the collage, including vintage...

    Britton found most of the items used in the collage, including vintage postcards and photos, and a preserved fox skull, at Chelsea's Antiques Garage and Williamsburg's Junk (197 North 9th St at Driggs Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; myspace.com/brooklynjunk).

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    The wheelchair in Britton's living room came from the Antiques Garage. He...

    The wheelchair in Britton's living room came from the Antiques Garage. He doesn't know the exact year it was produced, but he thinks it's not very old---although the seat itself is hand-caned, the chair also incorporates metal.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Stuffed deer and antelope heads hang in Britton's living room; the deer head...

    Stuffed deer and antelope heads hang in Britton's living room; the deer head came from Ugly Luggage (214 Bedford Ave between North 5th and 6th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-0724), while the antelope is from the Antiques Garage. If you look closely, you'll notice whimsical touches: The deer wears a top hat, while the antelope is accessorized with a Vivienne Westwood pearl necklace from London. "I didn't want them to have that hunting-lodge feel," he laughs. "I wanted to make them fun."

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Among the treasures in Britton's living room are a chandelier that he found on...

    Among the treasures in Britton's living room are a chandelier that he found on the street and rewired himself, a medical bag that he uses to transport jewelry to shows and a collection of vintage birdcages that are placed around his bookshelves. "I bought a certain amount and stopped myself because I could have gone crazy with them," he says of the decorative items.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton found this taxidermy ornament---which features three birds encased under...

    Britton found this taxidermy ornament---which features three birds encased under glass---at the Brimfield Antique Show (brimfieldshow.com) in Brimfield, Massachussetts. "I've always wanted one of those, with multiple pieces in it," he notes. "It's one of my new favorite treasures."

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    The collages behind the antique bookcase in Britton's living room are from his...

    The collages behind the antique bookcase in Britton's living room are from his old house on Staten Island, where he lived with a few friends from high school (many of whom he still keeps in touch with). The collages are mounted on foam core and feature photos of musicians (including Depeche Mode and Siouxsie Sioux), as well as advertisements and images from issues of the Village Voice and Details magazine from the '80s and '90s.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    When Britton's parents moved into a new house, he grabbed the handsaw and the...

    When Britton's parents moved into a new house, he grabbed the handsaw and the pitchfork pictured here from the departing tenants. "It's my take on rustic things," he says. The vintage clocking-in boxes underneath the tools are especially appropriate since Britton works out of his kitchen.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    These shadow boxes, which are hung in the entryway to Britton's kitchen,...

    These shadow boxes, which are hung in the entryway to Britton's kitchen, contain small trinkets and mementos from his past. "Each item is a memory of something," he explains. "Something about it reminds me of a person or time." Among the souvenirs stuffed in this rack are champagne corks from his past birthday celebrations, figurines of Pee-wee Herman (Britton's a big fan---he also has a Pee-wee postcard in his foyer) and a set of keys from Britton's first car.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton uses his kitchen as the work space for his jewelry line, Purevile...

    Britton uses his kitchen as the work space for his jewelry line, Purevile. "When I was in high school, it was just Vile," he recalls. "A teacher in school actually called me that once, which I thought was funny because it was about how I looked, not who I was." He paired the word pure with it to make it sound less harsh, and the moniker stuck. "I kind of like it as one word because you have to think about it a little more. And I like that it has a lot of different meanings to it."

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton incorporates somewhat macabre elements, including animal bones, hair...

    Britton incorporates somewhat macabre elements, including animal bones, hair and baby-doll limbs, into his one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Britton created this piece for a London art show called "Lingering Whispers"...

    Britton created this piece for a London art show called "Lingering Whispers" and showed it at a recent edition of BANZAI!!!!!, a party thrown by artists Muffinhead and Eric Schmalenberger. Modeled after a gas mask, the piece is made from a vintage corset.

Photograph: David Rosenzweig

Entering Wren Britton's cozy, 800-square-foot abode can be a little...

Entering Wren Britton's cozy, 800-square-foot abode can be a little overwhelming at first---there's just so much stuff. Britton, who founded the gothic jewelry line Purevile (purevile.com), has rented the space for eight years, but has been amassing a collection of odds and ends for much longer. "There are some things in here that I've had since I was a teenager," he says. "My parents are huge collectors too." Though many of his knickknacks have a slightly macabre, Victorian feel, he also injects humor into his surroundings (Pee-wee Herman figurines and the occasional Hello Kitty toy can be found among his darker belongings).

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The Antiques Garage (112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com"My favorite thing about vintage shopping is the hunt," enthuses Britton. "Also, everyone there is very knowledgeable about what they are selling and can tell me the story behind the pieces. I love knowing an object's history—it makes it so much more special."

Obscura Antiques and Oddities (280 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-505-9251, obscuraantiques.com) Britton sources many of his treasures from this curio-filled East Village shop; among the finds he's unearthed there are a prosthetic leg that he keeps in his living room, and some of his vintage hats. "I love a good vintage hat," he says. "I have one that's 200 years old!"

The Evolution Store (120 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts; 212-343-1114, theevolutionstore.comBritton has picked up medical-themed items, such as a plastic skull, at this Soho shop, known for its naturalistic items (including fossils and taxidermied animals).

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