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Interiors

Overlooking NYC, A Lofted Studio Filled with History

by Sabrina Smelko

One of the things I love most about older homes is the stories and history they hold from those who lived there prior. There’s something feel-good — and somewhat thrilling — about knowing where a certain scratch in the floor came from, or discovering a stack of old newspapers under the stairs. Getting to peek into the past is a privilege I enjoy in my own home, and one that and Kyle Barry share as well. Their lofted studio was originally built in 1864 and used to be a Governor’s Mansion — and thereafter a community space for underprivileged urban residents — before it became the place Emily and Kyle call home.

Together with her mother, Emily runs , an interiors and styling business, and Kyle works in Brooklyn at West Elm’s headquarters. When they were first looking for a new apartment, the large windows, open staircase, rooftop patio and view of the city that this home offered caught their eye. Located in the heart of booming Jersey City, the couple’s lifestyle strikes a balance between quiet suburbia and the busy hustle-bustle of the city, and they relish in being central to local shops and restaurants — namely the countless flea markets and antique stores at arm’s reach. Emily admits to being a bit of a thrift-store-o-holic, so the biggest challenge when it came to decorating their space was editing down and practicing restraint so as not to collect and stockpile too many things. She admits, “I’ve moved on from furniture pieces to accessories and artwork only because we’re running out of space!” Like many, they think of their home as an ever-evolving space. “The second I think we are [done decorating], I get bored and want to switch something around, or redo the gallery wall, or repaint something,” Emily says. “I’m always battling between what I love about our space versus what I wish was different.” But no matter how many faults they find with their lofted studio space, they feel truly lucky every day to have found such a diamond in the rough.

Overlooking NYC, A Lofted Studio Filled with History, Heirlooms and Happiness
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Emily and Kyle's gallery wall in their living room is ever-changing. When they tire of the arrangement, they change out the frames, add to the collection, or switch the smaller pieces out for larger ones. "My favorite [piece of art] is the top figure study in the black frame," says Emily, "She came from an artist's portfolio I found at Brimfield." The throw is from The Citizenry.
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This kitchen cart was a staple and perfect fit in their previous kitchen where they lived in Chicago. Though it doesn't fit in their kitchen now, Emily couldn't bear parting with it. "Turns out I love it just as much in a living room," she explains, "It moonlights as a bar cart on special occasions." The windsor chair was passed down from her grandfather.
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This mirror is one of Emily's favorite pieces. She found it at an antique shop for a steal.
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The tiny staircase-wall has seen many changes over the years. It's hard figuring out exactly what to do with a hard-to-work-with area in any home, but Emily and Kyle settled on a great solution using a small bistro table, directly opposite the sofa. Emily's sister made the macrame plant hangers.
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The wall sconce is from Schoolhouse Electric.
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Emily dislikes placing TVs directly across from sofas, so here she's placed it off-center on a console next to their front door. This way, it blends into the room rather than feeling so central.
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Kyle and Emily installed thick molding and trim in the room to add some subtle charm to the space and also add dimension.
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"That's my grandmother on an awesome sofa!" says Emily.
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Their loft's floor plan. Their dining room features two-story ceilings!
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Emily and Kyle in front of their building.
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The ceiling in their dining room is 18' tall, which (however stunning) proved to be a bit of a design challenge, especially with an unsightly ceiling fan as a focal point above. Painting the lower section of wall and hanging string lights at just above head-height helps anchor and ground the space.
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Their dining room offers ample open shelves where Emily and Kyle store various dinnerware, serving platters and spirits.
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The view of their dining room from the second-floor bedroom. I love the addition of the mirror to help make the small space feel larger and brighter.
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The artwork is from the well-curated vintage home store, Adaptations NY.
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Kyle and Emily's stunning rooftop terrace overlooks New York City.
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What was once a vintage industrial kitchen table has now become a home for various potted plants.
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Regarding their terrace, Emily jokes, "Now we only need a kiddy pool and we'll be all set."
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The second floor features an open-concept bedroom, technically making their space a lofted studio. Directly across from this, you'll find their bathroom and a balcony overlooking the dining room.
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The lamp is vintage with a replacement shade and the mirror is from the Brooklyn Flea. The couple in the photograph is Emily's paternal grandparents.
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A fantastic rug from Emily's grandparents helps create the illusion of an office space.
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Kyle's grandmother's settee was saved from a potential Craigslist listing. To the right of it you'll find the staircase to the terrace and the bathroom.
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More furniture passed down from family finds its way into every room in their home, adding to the rich history. Kyle and Emily painted the art above the bed together, and the pillows were created by Emily. As for their next investment, they have their eye on a new headboard/bed frame!
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The nightstand is another inherited piece from family. The braided quilt and shams are (appropriately) from West Elm.
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"This lovely lady is also by the artist of my favorite piece above the sofa [in the living room]," says Emily.

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