If you’d asked me before my trip to Brooklyn about my impressions, I’d say that it’s a quiet suburban place with brown and gray dominating the landscape.
Turns out, the people and places in Brooklyn are anything but. This vibrant locale is a pulsing thriving community where ambition meets art meets expression meets roots.
Barbara Streisand, Michael Jordan, Rudy Guiliani, and Marisa Tomei are just a tiny cross-section of the talent that Brooklyn has produced. And this color palette is just a sampling of the richness and diversity you’ll find here.
To create the Brooklyn look in your home, keep the walls and furnishings simple and comfortable with unique meaningful pieces to fill in the gaps such a bench from an old church or heirloom trunk for the coffee table.
Picture a mid-century danish dresser with a collection of 70′s vases and graffitti inspired art for the wall.
Keep the color palette simple- white, gray and black with punches of bright modern color for the accents such as pillows, curtains, rugs, art… have fun, be aggressive with your style, and express your most vibrant self- that’s doing like Brooklyn, Baby!
It's Spring and the flowers have sprung here in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
And I’m feeling right at home with my new friend, Ed Roth, founder and creator at Stencil 1 (which, by the way you, have to check out at www.stencil1.com). Although I’ve admired his urban and playful stencils and books for years, we’ve only recently become acquainted. But, I know we’re going to be fast friends when he guides me to our first stop, an adorable vintage shop on Roebling Street called RePop:
Ed's already making a purchase- man, this guy doesn't mess around!
We saunter down a quiet old block of homes…
to another quaint little shop, Brooklyn Reclamation, with old things so carefully curated and clean- it almost feels like the home it likely used to be.
I see this cool old free standing mirror that I’m pretty sure I must have… that is until the store owner says he thinks it’s from a sanitarium in Pennsylvania (um, never mind, but thank you!)
Just around the corner across from new construction (there’s a lot of it in Williamsburg)…
and tucked next to a genuine Social Club (complete with pet turtle and late night Salsa music, I’m told)…
Of course, I immediately appreciate his work with it’s layers, textures, and colors.
I especially like the wood grain piece tucked just one layer behind the front paintings
And the three of us continue on wandering down gritty vibrant streets to more clever cool stores like:
Nightwood: reincarnated textiles, interiors, and furniture
There’s so much to see in this up and coming pocket of Brooklyn- too much to capture in a day (or even in a blog post) so we stay focus on vintage decor (there are so many other kinds of shops and restaurants here!) and urban art… here are just a few more of my many and diverse impressions from the day…
Ed's sweet stencil of his mother. She's watching over the progress at Grand Ferry Park
My favorite discovery- this wallpaper reminds me of my chalk drawings and actually makes me a little homesick- but we power on. There's too much to see to be sad about home.
Another crack in the urban landscape- I love these colors!
As we rest at Grand Ferry Park we decide we'll each pick one photo that we've taken today as kind of a tryptic memento of our day...
Here’s Ed’s Photo (see more of his pics on Instagram!)
Patrick’s photo (he’s got plenty more on Instagram too!)
And my shot of Hotel Delmano, where Ed treated us to old fashioned cocktails and conversation.
Ed Roth and Patrick Bradley were fantastic tour guides of Williamsburg, a gritty, vibrant neighborhood of contrasts and Creatives making their statements with food, clothing, art, furniture, interior design, and landscape. And all this in spite of the stark new condo construction and other homogenizing signs of gentrification casting shadows on the time and color weathered streets. To symbolize the contrast I choose two colors today to add to my Brooklyn palette:
Still a Decorative Painter at heart, I can’t help but smile at the amazing creations that can come from these three basic elements- paint, brush, imagination. And soon as we hit the street, I’m smiling from ear to ear. Of course, there are shops, restaurants, etc. But it’s the art on the buildings that catches my eye…
The streets are still very much singular in their brick and stone structure, but that hasn’t held anyone back from making their own unique statement.
Even simple touches like the hand painted transom windows in this coffee shop add a comfy touch
Next is the Flea Market in the Fort Greene area…
where the vendors are as colorful as their wares…
Under a bright blue sky, everything looks like it could work in my house!
Old and new, what I like about this Flea Market is that the creativity and presentation reigned supreme. From the organic foods to original art and unusual collections, the overall feeling is pride of ownership and creative expression. That’s so nice!
And as I stroll away I’m thinking about the predominant colors I’ve seen today. Then notice this rare empty space…
and my next color for Brooklyn (see yesterday’s post for the first!):
The adventure continues tomorrow as I explore the Williamsburg area…
As I pull up to my friend, Ariella’s, building in Park Slope- a quiet little borough in western Brooklyn- I can’t help but feel like I’m walking onto the set of Sesame Street with it’s rows of brownstones and corner shops. The classic kid show is set on a fictitious street in Manhattan, but still, I wonder as I climb the steps and ring my friend’s doorbell, if Big Bird and Gordon will come singing around the corner, “Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood?…”
At first glance , the monochromatic blocks of brick and stone seem strict and static, but I quickly notice bold bursts of color emerging from the sameness of it all…
Shadowed by stone steps and bay windows, vibrant front door colors, casings and all, reach out to welcome visitors…
Some neighbors have banded together pledging, “Color for bay windows- Everyone!
A brave few have decided to go for it and paint everything…
This freshly painted Peach will no doubt encourage others to go for it with color.
Even sedate color schemes like sandy cream and black with a natural wood door stand out against dusty red and gray neighbors.
hm, why do I start humming, “I left my heart… in San Francisco…” as I pass this abode? I wouldn’t call this beautiful, but I have to admit, I do appreciate the unabashed approach.
And then one of my favorite a moments... a color combination that surprises and delights me like this warm inviting cream house with black windows and three values of teal to define the details. Who knew it could be so gorgeous?!
The ornate crown is dressed in pale aqua against a clear blue sky while the foundation block in a strong medium tone grounds the building and dresses up the gray steps and black railing. The windows are painted simply with matte black, and the surprising front door and transom are coated in a deep velvety teal- almost spruce- that shows off the carved keystone detail, arched window, and gilded street numbers. Stunning.
I’m just becoming accustomed to this residential view when we turn the corner onto a street full of commerce- restaurants, shops and services- old and new. Something altogether different is happening here. Tune in tomorrow to see more!
Here’s my first Color in the City Brooklyn color. I’ll reveal a new color each day then present the entire palette at the end of the week.
As I get ready to dash off to New York today (no fooling!) I’ve been thinking of this painting, Broadway Boogie Woogie, by Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian. If you haven’t heard of Mondrian and don’t remember the Partridge Family bus (which makes me feel painfully sad AND old), then here’s a quick recap about this inspired piece:
Mondrian spent several years in Paris and London, but his final years were spent in his favorite town, New York City. He’d been developing his style for much of his career, but it was in Manhattan that the rhythms of jazz music came to life on the streets below his apartment as he looked out the window and saw the quick staccato movements of the yellow taxi cabs below. This painting IS jazz- it’s sporadic colors and skipping beats mimics the hustling rhythm of the big blocks and busy City. Many call Broadway Boogie Woogie Mondrian’s masterpiece. I also call it his Color in The City palette, the group of hues that, for Mondrian, represented his moving and musical impressions of the Big Apple.
So, I’m waiting for the plane, wondering what I might see on my trip and what I could create at home from my impressions. I’ve been to New York and New York City many times. But this trip, I’ll spend time in Brooklyn- an area I’ve only passed through- as well as Paris and a few little towns nearby. (I know!) I’m excited to see what colors and impressions emerge as I create Color in The City palettes for each place I visit and bring back tips for recreating your travel experiences at home.
In the meantime, tweet me with your list of must-see places; food, vintage shopping, museums, hidden jewels… if I can make it to your recommended spot, I’ll check-in on Facebook and send you a big thank you on Twitter. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for me!