Living in the midwest, it can be shocking to hear what real estate goes for on the coasts. Whenever I get dreamy-eyed about moving to New York or California, I just have to remember one thing: the money I save from living in Des Moines, IA not only gets me a giant apartment, but it also allows me to travel to the cities I love. Jeff, a gallery archivist, book collector and writer, and Emily Alford, an interior designer, were renting in the North Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY when they started talking about buying a house. “After many long discussions, spreadsheets, and professional-forecasting we decided it was time … only to realize that the Brooklyn we called home was way too expensive for us to even consider,” Jeff says.
“We discovered Ditmas Park, which managed to be a familiar sort of Brooklyn but also projected this illusion of suburban living. We now own a 1BR in a giant co-op building on a tree-lined street full of stunning, single-family Victorian homes. When we leave Manhattan at the end of the day and arrive here, it’s a whole different world: Your neighbors say hello, in the summer you can hear lawnmowers in the distance, and people don’t have stoop sales — they have garage sales. You can escape the busy-busy Manhattan mindset pretty easily here.”
One of the challenges that Jeff and Emily have found in their home is finding a place for all of their books and mementos. “We moved in about a year and a half ago, and I still consider our home as in-progress,” Emily shares. “I think as long as you’re still enjoying finding quirky new things, coming up with projects, etc., it’s a continuing process and your home will grow and evolve along with you. That means editing just as much as you add, and I think we’ve learned how to do that pretty effectively.” According to Jeff, this editing has a lot to do with his book collection. “Generally speaking, we have an ongoing challenge of finding a way to filter my passion for rare books and collecting through Emily’s more refined design sensibility,” Jeff notes. “Because of my reviewing, novels consistently flow through the apartment, so there’s a lot of stuff for us to manage. To avoid milk-crates and bowing shelves, we designed a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelf and took all their variable heights and depths into careful consideration.” The combination of literature, art and beautiful furniture turns their challenge into a lovely design aesthetic.
Emily and Jeff’s home is filled with gorgeous collections and rare finds. The eclectic, sophisticated design is Emily’s talent on display. She has taken their work, passions and hobbies and has created a beautiful home that reflects those concepts. They plan to change parts of their place as they continue to live there, but for now, this space they own outside of the busy city and away from their jobs is perfectly suited for them to find peace and calm. “We’re most thankful that somehow our adult lives in New York City have cosmically aligned in a way that allowed us to buy something here,” Jeff shares. “This is such an inspiring city and it’s unbelievable that we get to call it home.” –Lauren