At the Brooklyn Heights home of christene barberich vintage finds, natural light, and a thoughtful design are tailored to fit.
“We wanted white walls, like a beautiful background we can constantly update. The more flexibility in your home, the more it energizes you,” says Barberich.
FINISTERRA in Azurite $250/roll flatvernacular.com;“SARAH” CIGARETTE PRINT by Nicholas Widener nicholaswidener.com; “FRED” DOG PAINTING by Andy Bridge andybridge.com; STOOL by Umbra Shift $250 domino.com/fall16
Christene Barberich can’t help but approach things instinctually—be it her Brooklyn Heights home, her wardrobe, or her role as global editor in chief and co-founder of Refinery29, the maverick fashion and lifestyle site that launched in 2005. In other words, she finds things she loves that both defy and define a genre.
Case in point: the two-bedroom apartment Barberich shares with her husband, Kevin Baxter, and their three-legged cat, Phoebe—with every inch being a testament to the power of good editing, skilled vintage shopping, savvy organization, and the art of marriage. Baxter, an architect who founded the firm Baxter Projects, oversaw the complete project two years ago.
SWEDISH LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPH by Anna Mollerannamoller.net; MOROCCAN BERBER RUG by Madeline Weinrib$2,600 abchome.com. ON BARBERICH: DRESS by RED Valentino$1,695 redvalentino.com; SHOES by Cynthia Rowley
“Kevin insisted on Farrow & Ball’s All white paint I was nervous because it’s so light in here, but now everything looks like it has a lightbox around it,” says Barberich.
“The board draws my attention to ideas and visuals that spark my creativity and connect back to my interests and aspirations,” Barberich explains. “I change it when I’m not seeing anything on it anymore.”
“Like a lot of New Yorkers, I moved from one crumbling apartment to another,” says Barberich. “There’s a certain charm in feeling you can make something out of nothing.”
ZEBRA PAINTING by Jenna Snyder Phillips jennasnyderphillips.com; SMILE PAINTING by Ryan Hixenbaugh;“RED ARROW, 1965” by Allan D’Arcangelo; GOLD LEAF MIRROR by Sandra Spannan
LIVING WITH YOUR ARCHITECT makes a complete guts-to-girders reno easier, though, right? Not necessarily—at least for Baxter. “It was more stressful because it was my home. He wanted it to be exactly what I wanted—like a love letter to me,” Barberich explains. And at the heart of the apartment is the skylight above the living room and cozy lofted office, through which natural light streams, along with the massive picture window with views of the East River and Ellis Island.
Other than the sofa and area rug, on which Barberich consulted with Suzanne and Lauren McGrath of McGrath II, nearly everything else is a vintage find or custom piece, such as the set of Mies van der Rohe leather-bound chairs flanking the bespoke dining table. There’s the eBay-sourced mid-century light fixtures hanging over the custom concrete kitchen counter, made by a third-generation Bay Ridge shop; the set of Milo Baughman chairs, redone in hot pink Ultrasuede, which playfully soften the industrial lines of the fireplace’s metalwork; and a gallery’s worth of artworks that Barberich has found on her travels, which sit alongside pieces from student artists at Savannah College of Art and Design.
But each item has a story and a purpose. “I have a real appreciation for legacy pieces,” Barberich says. “I like old things, but they have to feel contemporary. They can’t look stuck in the past.” Spoken like a true visionary.
“As soon as Christene mentioned it, I knew the pegboard would be an interesting surface both graphically and functionally,” says Baxter.
“I get sentimental about things, like the cowboy picture and painting of the woman,” Berberich says. “I used to keep them together. They had this little love affair.”
SMART IDEAS FOR MAXIMIZING SPACE
White pegboard doubles as an organizer
in the kitchen and as a modern, textural contrast on a living room wall.
Put sleek shoeboxes on display
, like Barberich did with extra silvery Sigerson Morrison boxes in her bedroom.
Consider fashion art
by hanging floral dresses against fuzzy coats (too large to fit in the closet) on the outside of your wardrobe doors.