Last summer Al Verik and his girlfriend, Erika Schroeder, moved into a recently renovated, 1,000-square-foot carriage house in Clinton Hill that was built around 1902. “I knew it was ‘the place’ as soon as I saw the entryway—it feels like a secret nook,” says Schroeder of the private, brick-alley entrance that runs from the street to their front door. Once inside, the charming details wooed them from every direction: original wood-beam ceilings, two large skylights, exposed brick. There were even a few metal rings hanging from the wall left over from its days as a horse stable. All of this was punctuated by a 30-x-25-foot backyard.
“We wanted a clean slate, so we got rid of everything from our previous place,” says Schroeder, a graduate student in art and design education at Pratt Institute. They sought out pieces with clean lines, such as a mid-century Paul McCobb coffee table and an industrial drafter’s desk, which they mixed with hardworking basics like a slipcovered sofa from CB2 in a shade of white similar to that of the floors and living-room walls. “It feels very rustic in here, and there’s so much personality,” says Verik, a digital-music manager at Virtual Label. “We wanted to balance that with furniture that was modern and clean—and very purposeful.”
But to keep their minimalist approach from coming off as too sterile, Verik spent a lot of time reworking the overhead lighting to create a warm glow. “As renters, we weren’t going to invest in renovations,” says Schroeder. “Instead we worked with furniture and lighting, the things we could take with us.” Then they filled every last corner with plants. “The outside space was so important to us,” she says, “we wanted to enjoy that greenery, even during the months we can’t use the yard.”
“My mom was a big fan of indoor green life when I was growing up,” says Verik. “I didn’t appreciate it then, but now I get it.”