House Tour: Alex | Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

January 16, 2014 | Alex

It's time for another CBD House Tour. Be gentle on this one, please. It's the funny place I call home.

Inhabitants: Me, a 26-yr-old blogger and 1/2 of the design studio Common Bond Design. (My roommate, Linzee, shares the apartment, but this tour features my bedroom and bath.)

Location: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Specs: 2-bed, 2-bath. Top-floor rental of a privately-owned brownstone. N and S exposure.

Space: Linzee and I moved into this bright, modern apartment 3 years ago. Gut renovated before we moved in, it's pretty much the greatest. The kitchen and baths are both 100% Ikea, as is the overhead lighting. The neighborhood is magical, the sunlight gushes through our windows, and our landlords are the kindest family. We hit the NYC renters' jackpot.

There's only one thing I would change if I had design super powers. The walls are "linen white" which helps to hide scuffs, but makes a poor photo backdrop. (I know, I know. The tiniest violin in the world plays for bloggers with off-white walls. But it is pesky when I'm trying to shoot DIY projects at home.)

Everything else is perfecto! Hats off to the architect. Sometimes, I can almost feel him/her a step ahead of me when I'm interacting with the space. My greatest "aha" moment was when I was curled up in my butterfly chair and marveled at how the window (lower than most) was perfectly positioned for taking in the street scene below. Likewise, the sill is proportioned at just the right height and depth to accommodate my book and mug of tea. It's a small, lovely detail that turns any standard-height seating into a virtual window seat.

Decor: This one's tricky. I've been sitting on these photos for almost 8 months, wavering on publishing them. I love my bedroom. It's warm, sunny and filled with objects I care about. But it's not an honest reflection of my aesthetic. I like clean, modern, uncluttered. As a young self-employed person, though, the budget for my own home is non-existent. Everything in my bedroom falls into one of three categories:

  • scavenged from my parent's basement (or carried with me from my teenage bedroom);
  • purchased for under $20 at a stoop sale;
  • purchased for under $30 at Ikea, Target or K-Mart.

The only blanket exception I can think of are travel mementos. When I find something I love while traveling, I find a way to justify the indulgence. I'm proud of how I've made disparate items play nice, but in finding a formula that works, I've veered away from the stark scandinavian look that's in my heart. Instead, my bedroom is colorful and eclectic. Even a little busy.

Happily, my bathroom offers some solace. It's everything my half-Danish DNA craves-- clean and cool. Bordering on sterile, but with a few splashes of personality and color via my ceramics collection. Think of it as a small preview of the decor in my someday-home.

Until then, here's a peek into budget-driven, hodge-podge 'right now' home:


Bedroom // Narrow-Leg 6-Drawer Dresser (White), West Elm - $699 | Cowhide Butterfly Chair Cover (Calma Chicha, Bs. As. Argentina) | Butterfly Chair Frame, Collapsible ($20 stoop sale find, similar here) | Lack Shelf (Red), Ikea - $16.99 | Leather Pouf (purchased when we lived in Brazil, similar here) | U.S. Navy Wool Blanket (family heirloom, similar here) | Task Lamp, K-Mart (discontinued) | African Basket (street fair find, similar here) | Umbra U+ Suspend Floating Clock (Walnut) - $60.02 | Indigo Vase, The Raging Bowl | Carved Wooden Horse (Bogota, Colombia street fair find) | Eyeball Sconce (Brass), Urban Outfitters (sold out) | Ball of Twine Print, 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein, - $7.99 | New York Magazine cover, framed | Vintage Desk (from parent's basement) | Leather Waste Bin, Ikea (discontinued) | Hotel Sheet Set (Red), Pottery Barn (discontinued) | Indian Duvet Cover, purchased from Hotel San Jose (Austin, TX) | Shibori Pillowcase (King), Vera Wang Bedding (discontinued) | Oak Wall Storage Cube, CB2 (oak discontinued. available in white 30"  here) | Whiskey Bottle w/ Wood Stopper, West Elm - $29 | Green Bikini (2011) Limited Edition Print by Nick Weber, via Tripoli Gallery | Black Leather Stools (borrowed from parents) | Enje Roller Blind, Ikea - $17.99

Bathroom // View of the World from 9th Avenue, by Saul Steinberg, via The New Yorker Store | Ekby Mossby Shelf, Ikea - $29.99 | Horn Mate Cup (purchased in Bs. As, Argentina) | Alpaca and Horn Tray (purchased in Bs. As. Argentina) | Robert Blue 9 ounce Tumbler, via Mociun - $15 | Vase by Michelle Mendlowitz Ceramics | Hammam Hand Towel, West Elm - $8 | Threshold Extra-Large Waffle Weave Shower Curtain, Target (discontinued, similar here) | Bamboo Waste Bin, Bed Bath & Beyond (discontinued, similar here)


Many of these items are now discontinued, because I've had them for ages! I've tried to find similar items, wherever possible.

I don't recommend the Ekby Mossby for use in a bathroom (and neither does Ikea!) Mine is badly stained after only a year. Their lacquer or veneer Ekby shelves will hold up better in a high moisture environment.  

Common Bond Design is an affiliate of Target, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. Read more about our affiliate relationships here.