A Bold Multicultural Brooklyn Brownstone — House Tour
Name: Elizabeth and Rac
Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned
Having lived in Brooklyn for over a decade, Elizabeth and Rac decided to buy a place of their own after getting married two and a half years ago. They purchased a home in the historic Bedford- Stuyvesant neighborhood and immediately set to renovating it to match their personalities.
The couple spent eight months renovating their home before they moved in. Spread over two floors, the garden level features a wide-open kitchen, living and dining area (perfect for entertaining). It’s also where Elizabeth’s lovely studio is located; she’s a wedding accessories designer! The garden level is actually aptly named, as the couple has an expansive backyard. And though Elizabeth loves the charm of vintage aesthetics and Rac loves the modernity of clean lines, one thing they both agree on is color: Bold shades anchor the living room, and earthy hues from nature bring serenity to their bedroom.
The couple’s home is beautiful on the surface, but there’s also a rich layer that makes up every room: Rac was born in India and Elizabeth is Jewish — and much of their space celebrates this diversity.
“We both have deep roots in our respective cultures, so it is something that is going to always come through. Over the years we have spent time teaching each other about the elements we love and how we can each embrace each other’s culture and religion. Our families have been instrumental in that as well. We care about each other, which means we care about where each of us came from and how it is important to us. Plus, both Hindu and Jew culture has a lot to offer in regards to art, which we love exploring,” wrote Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Rac’s approach to incorporating their culture into their home’s decor was rather organic: “It is part of who we are so it just comes out as part of what we are drawn to and how we live our lives. We use our Menorah, so it is out. We cherish our Ketubah, and love to see and read it, so we displayed it prominently. We love things with history and detail, and a lot of times, those pieces end up being tied to culture and spirituality.”
It’s this mix of both of their cultures — and the obvious delight they share for collecting objects and art together as a couple — that makes their home so rich with beauty beyond just the alluring color palette.
Like this Brooklyn home we toured earlier this year, I first heard about Elizabeth and Rac from Danya Shults, who launched the lifestyle brand and website Arq last year. Danya founded Arq to “help people (not just Jews!) connect with Jewish culture in a more modern (read: relevant, inclusive, and convenient) way through original content, meaningful experiences, and beautiful products.” Find Arq — and products recommendation, recipes, interviews and more — on their Instagram and Arq’s website.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: We are a mix; I love vintage aesthetics and he loves clean lines. But, we both love lots of bold color!
Inspiration: Mixed cultures, a lot of Asian influence, partially from our travels. Art Deco lines, and clean but inviting spaces.
Favorite Element: Our art.
Biggest Challenge: Figuring out how to make things both functional yet beautiful.
What Friends Say: They love how our home creatively expresses both of us, but is also so inviting. We host a lot, and the space was made to really accommodate that.
Biggest Embarrassment: I don’t really have one…we love everything we have done with the space, and we wouldn’t put up anything that made us feel uneasy. Also, we are very tidy people, so that’s never a problem, ha!
Proudest DIY: The wallpaper I installed on the ceiling above the staircase, a true labor of love.
Biggest Indulgence: Furniture. The most expensive pieces in the home are a few pieces of furniture we bought here and on our honeymoon; they truly are pieces of art with wonderful memories attached to each item. They will be in our home for many, many years to come. We hope one day to pass them down to our children.
Best Advice: Get inspiration from the internet, but don’t get too obsessed, have your own vision and trust your gut! The most wonderful places to live are places that are both beautiful and functional. I had always wanted a white farm sink, but my husband convinced me out of it —- he stated that we cook too much for a sink like that! He was totally right. I love the look of it, but I would have hated having it in my home; too hard to keep it clean and having the double sink is so much more useful for us.
Dream Sources: I love being able to buy direct from the artisan, so any marketplace is a score for me! We try to seek them out on any trip we plan.
The artwork in our entry way all has special meaning.
The photo of Nevada from a hot air balloon was taken by my father, who is a photographer.
The opera poster was a gift from my cousin who plays trombone in the Cologne -Symphony Orchestra, in Germany.
One is a photo from our wedding.
One is a collection of “Dinner Cards” that my husband brought back from a special Bachelor dinner in Monaco. I thought they were so lovely and special, that I went to Ikea, got a frame and put them up. He was so delighted! It’s always a fun conversation starter, too.
Entryway overhead light — Lucia from Cedar & Moss
Reclaimed Wood Bench — Find Home Furnishings
Runner under bench — bought on our honeymoon in Thailand.
White Storage Unit used as shoe holder — Container Store
Our umbrella holder is actually an oversized candleholder thing that I thought would function well for our small umbrellas! I found it on sale at Z Gallerie. I loved how unique it was, waterproof, and the clean lines work so well in our space!
Carved Teak Cabinet — bought on our honeymoon in Vietnam.
Carved wood wall hanging — bought on our honeymoon in Cambodia.
Cherry Wood Bar Unit — bought on our honeymoon in Thailand.
White tiered round shelving stand — Ikea
White storage bin — Ikea
LIVING ROOM / KITCHEN
Dining Table — customized with dark wood and white hardware, Journey Dumbo
Dining Chairs — Amazon (Control Brand Malmo Side Chair in Grey)
Kitchen Cabinet Knobs — 3 types from Anthropologie
White Wall Shelf, Copper Brackets — Etsy
Shelf is a piece of wood I bought from Home Depot and painted white.
Image on the shelf — a dear friend Amber Gress Photography
Masks — a present from family
The barrel — a custom batch of whiskey we had made for our wedding
The little car was our cake topper — made by a friend!
Large Carved wood wall art — The Story of Hanuman, bought in Thailand on our honeymoon
Grey Ottoman (that converts into a bed) — BoConcept
Reclaimed wood table — Made by a childhood friend in Durham NC.
Teal Charlotte Couch — custom color, Society Social
Citrus Blossom Pillows — Society Social
Blue Batik pillow — Thailand (bought on honeymoon)
Silk blue and grey pillows— Cambodia (bought on honeymoon)
Floor Rug — Bought in Cambodia on our honeymoon
Madame Butterfly Poster — gift from Elizabeth’s cousin in Germany
Ski poster — gift from Rac’s brother
Art Nouveau Cocktail poster — bought in Portugal
Montreal poster — bought in France
Brass fire wood holder — bought at a vintage store in VT
Teal planter — Home Depot
Wood pendant lights throughout living room and kitchen, Etsy
Rolling TV Stand — CB2
Wall light — Urban Outfitters
Mirror — vintage find in Brooklyn
Stool — Amazon
Rug — wedding gift
Hooks — sourced over the years from Anthropologie
White Shelves — Urban Outfitters
Kimono hooks — Anthropologie
Kimono hangers — Amazon
Yellow trash bin — Ikea
White Bed Frame — Amazon
Large white pillows — Ikea
Brass wall scones — Ridge from Cedar & Moss
Carved wood wall hangings — bought in Cambodia on our honeymoon
Lantern Ceiling light — Ikea
Side tables — AllModern, DK Living Brand
Shelving — Mixed
Rac’s side — Circular storage from CB2
Elizabeth’s side — White Shelf West Elm
Gold metal shelf — CB2
Rose gold and gold book shelves — CB2
Carved wood wall hanging beside the pocket doors — bought in Thailand on our honeymoon
Abstract Painting — Renee Phillips Design
Wood folding stool — vintage find in VT
Curtains — Amazon
Large mirror — Ikea
Closet Custom shelving — The Container Store
Wallpaper — Hygge & West
Runner — bought in Thailand on our honeymoon
Pendant light — Home Depot
Laundry bag — The Container Store
Grey ottoman — BoConcept (folds out into a single person bed!)
Throw pillows — smaller pillow cases were a gift brought from Ireland / striped pillow from Morocco
Area rug — Better Carpet Warehouse in Brooklyn
Tiles — sourced from Amethyst Artisan
Vanity and Cabinet mirror — Ikea
Brass faucet — Amazon
Drawer knobs — switched out for vintage style pieces from Amazon
Wall hook — Anthropologie
Light switch plate — Anthropologie
“T” & “R” Towel Hooks — Anthropologie
White TP Holder — Alibaba
Wall tiles — local store in Queens
Curtain and hooks — Amazon
Pendant light — Restoration Hardware
Trash can — The Container Store
Chair and stool — Eames from Design Within Reach
Embroidered pillowcase — bought in Sayulita on a trip to Mexico
Small table — passed down from Elizabeth’s family, we sanded and refinished it with lacquer and teal paint (it used to be yellow and black!).
Wooden shelves and angular brackets — West Elm
Abstract Art — family friend; Jean Penland
Port Hole Mirror — belonged to Elizabeth’s mom, they received it as a wedding gift in the ’70s
Ceramic plant holders for hall — Wayfair.com
Overhead brass light — Anthropologie
Gold switch plates — Home Depot
White pot for plant — Ikea
Wallpaper from — Clever Spaces (Elizabeth spent a week putting it up, she cut the strips down into smaller pieces in order to apply to the ceiling).
Buddha — Found in Cambodia on our honeymoon
Ceiling globe — Home Depot
Ceiling medallion — Home Depot
Large glass table — Salvation Army 10 years ago
White swivel chair — Target
Shag rug — Urban Outfitters
Leaning white shelving — Target
Round white table — vintage store in Brooklyn 10 years ago (the store eventually closed)
Wood Stools — Crate & Barrel
Hooks — sources from Anthropologie, Home Depot, Amazon.com
Vintage switch plates — found in NOLA
Gold branch wallpaper — Clever Spaces (Elizabeth put it up herself!)
Ceiling light — Lumens.com
Intricate ceiling medallion — Home Depot
Lounge Chairs — Ikea
Blue and White cushions — Overstock.com
Wood table — Amazon.com
All planting and landscaping done as a family! We learned as we went….