Before Alicia Hassen founded her design firm, Brooklinteriors, she was building a career in digital design and advertising technology, where she began to “observe an influx of couples, young professionals, and families moving to Brooklyn or putting down roots,” she tells House Beautiful. Think: Young families buying their first home after renting in a Brownstone, for example. At the same time, she noticed that many of those first-time homeowners didn’t know how to add that special touch of Brooklyn (the sense of community, culture, and history.), which is what drew them there to begin with, to the interiors. With a background in art history and design, Hassen knew she could help. So when she wasn’t in the office at her full-time day job, she began to build a portfolio of interior design work by designing for friends, family (who have a restoration company), and referrals.
Eventually, she decided to take the plunge, dedicating herself to Brooklinteriors and providing clients with a very high-touch yet approachable service, taking would take the time to understand who these people are, how they wanted to live, and “featuring the best of Brooklyn with local partners, builders, makers, creatives, artists—you name it!” And when Sasha and Lance Grover approached her to decorate their East Williamsburg apartment, she knew she was up for the challenge of transforming their generic new build into a personality-packed oasis that was also conducive to their WFH lifestyle. Ahead, discover how Hassen turned this two-bedroom, two-bathroom blank canvas in a seven-unit new construction into a functional and maximalist home.
“The design concept for this room was a 1920s speakeasy-style lounge,” Hassen says. She incorporated some art deco and bohemian pieces to set a mood that felt opulent but also relaxing. Both the wallpaper and chandelier were crucial in accomplishing that mood. “For the built-in media bookshelf cabinet, I played with asymmetry and retro design elements to create a piece that spoke to the more modern elements (such as the smooth white oak and flat-panel cabinet fronts) in the new construction but lent well to the intimate experience, almost going back in time, of the lounge,” she expands.
Having a second bedroom in an NYC apartment as a couple is always a huge perk. It’s basically just a bonus room that can be anything you need but can’t fit in the living room. In this case, the Grovers wanted a comfortable and casual lounge to unwind in, but they also needed to save a little section of it for a desk. Hassen’s solution? Convert the closet! All the millwork was done by a local firm, Good Dog Rosie.
Since Lance’s home office is in the lounge, Hassen recommended putting in the closet, “ensuring work could be put away at the end of the day and not interfere with precious leisure time,” she explains. “Some people can be messy and having the ability to make everything out of sight by simply shutting the door is a real lifesaver.”
The soothing green paint, Current Mood by Clare sets a nice backdrop that complements but also distinguishes the space from the rest of the room. “Since there wasn’t space for built-in cabinets below, I made sure we included one desk drawer within the desktop which Lance uses for all those random cords, pens, sticky notes, etc, and organizers help to keep the rest of Lance’s paperwork organized and out of sight while allowing the closet to still feel open and roomy,” she says. “To make this a conducive space for Lance’s cybersecurity we used wallpaper on the ceiling so instead of being a distracting feature; it is unexpected, exciting, and helps add vertical interest.”
Like the lounge and Lance’s workspace, this area is a tight space with many needs. On the one hand, it’s the formal sitting room for hosting friends and family, but the alcove which was once a closet now serves as Sasha’s in-home office. “I was able to accomplish this in the living room by demoing the closet and removing the doors to create a larger alcove for a spacious desk with concealed storage. By adding wallpaper to the back wall, it now becomes an exciting moment and conversational piece in the living room as it features a local artist, Wayne Pate,” Hassen says.
The multi-purpose spaces have dual-functional pieces and accommodate Lance and Sasha’s professional goals while also speaking to their fun-loving personalities and quirky sense of humor. In New York, where space is limited and every inch counts, a two-seater sofa is a good living room seating idea, too.
“This new construction condo building was designed with an ultra-modern and sleek (almost cold) aesthetic,” Hassen says. And that tendency was most evident in the kitchen, where the cabinets were flat and dark grey, contrasting with the quartz countertops and tempered glass backsplash.
So “to transform this former, character-lacking space into an inspiring kitchen the client could identify with, we focused on adding a bold, warm pop of color,” she says. They ended up selecting Rangwali by Farrow & Ball and then added a vintage Turkish runner for an extra pop. “The rest was simply styling with a special combination of old and new; pieces that included texture and depth including brass, wood, and florals,” Hassen adds. Together, they bring in layers of texture that the formerly stark space lacked.
“The wallpaper, Melodi, was the inspiration for the entire room design,” Hassen says. If you’re not sure where to start, try a similar approach. Translation: Fine one piece you love, whether it’s a piece of art or bedding, and then let that anchor the bedroom. In the case of this wallpaper choice, “The couple used this motif in their Austin home, and wanted to bring it along with their memories of Austin with them to Brooklyn.” she explains.
The print and colors in the wallpaper combine retro, folk/country elements, and energetic primary colors, all Austin staples.”With this in mind each piece relates to one of these aspects or a combination, making a cohesive yet highly eclectic and personal experience for the couple.”
Though you wouldn’t necessarily envision all of these things together if you just saw them separately, they end up lending themselves so nicely to one another, especially in relation t Lance and Sahsa’s style. The “folk-country elements of wallpaper play well with the live edge canopy bed and retro features pair beautifully with the mid-century pieces, and the art deco elements add the touch of luxe that this bedroom sanctuary requires.”
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